The Beaux' Stratagem

by George Farquhar

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 613

Charles, Viscount Aimwell

Charles, Viscount Aimwell, a gentleman who, being low in funds, is traveling in disguise, hoping to attract a country heiress. He finds her in the person of Dorinda, but consummating the union takes considerable doing. Being a second son, he is at first without the title that, upon his brother’s death, comes to him shortly before he marries the heiress. In their pretended commonness, Aimwell and Archer are a source of perpetual amusement.

Francis Archer

Francis Archer, Esq., also a gentleman out of funds, masquerading as Aimwell’s servant. the men take turns, by the month, at being master and servant. Archer’s initial idle flirtation with Cherry develops into true love. Because of their secretive behavior—the result of their assumed roles—Archer and Aimwell are falsely suspected of being highwaymen, adding to the havoc created by their pursuits of wealthy ladies.


Cherry, the vivacious daughter of Bonniface, an innkeeper. She is privy to the highwaymen’s activities and her father’s alliance with them. Prompted by her father, she spies on Aimwell and Archer, but she falls in love with Archer and he with her. Cherry contributes greatly to the comic spirit and humor of the play.


Dorinda, the modest, reserved daughter of Lady Bountiful. Hearing Dorinda spoken of as the finest woman in the country and a prospective heiress, the calculating Aimwell sets out to win her for her money. When he acquires his title and wealth, he marries her for love.


Bonniface, an innkeeper, Cherry’s father, about fifty-eight years old. He has, according to his word, subsisted mainly on ale his entire life. An unscrupulous rogue, he does not hesitate to offer his daughter to an unworthy suitor when he thinks the arrangement might aid his purposes. It is finally revealed that he has run away in fear of reprisal from the other rogues.


Sullen, Dorinda’s brother, a country blockhead. He is rude, stupid, and frequently drunk. He speaks little and thinks and acts even less. Although he is a man of property and is idolized by his influential mother, he is generally disliked and disregarded.

Mrs. Sullen

Mrs. Sullen, his wife. Unhappy in her marriage, she is frank in saying so. Paradoxically, she admits that she would endure the rude Sullen if only his manner were tempered with a little kindness. Sarcastic and abusive, she is really gentler than she sounds. With romantic scheming, she rids herself of one husband and gets another.


Scrub, Sullen’s crude, comical servant. He carries the secrets of the ladies and the beaux as circumstances require.

Lady Bountiful

Lady Bountiful, the mother of Sullen and Dorinda. She is reputed to be the wisest and kindest nurse in Litchfield, and to have cured more people—although by strange methods—in ten years than the doctors have killed in twenty.

Count Bellair

Count Bellair, a French officer held prisoner in Litchfield, with whom Mrs. Sullen begins a flirtation to arouse Sullen’s jealousy. the scheme merely increases Sullen’s indifference. the Sullens are divorced by mutual agreement, and Mrs. Sullen will marry the count.

Sir Charles Freeman

Sir Charles Freeman, a gentleman from London. Arriving to rescue Mrs. Sullen, his sister, from her unfortunate marriage, he brings news of Aimwell’s newly granted title.


Foigard (fwah-GAHR), an Irishman pretending to be the priest and chaplain of the French officers. He provides comedy with his lack of understanding and poor command of spoken English. Finally, he is unmasked.


Gibbet, a highwayman, an emissary between Bonniface and the gang.


Hounslow and


Bagshot, highwaymen who contribute to the development of the subplot.

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