Commedia dell'Arte Criticism: Characters And Actors - Essay

Pierre Louis Duchartre (essay date 1929)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Duchartre, Pierre Louis. “Women of the Commedia dell'Arte.” In The Italian Comedy: The Improvisation, Scenarios, Lives, Attributes, Portraits, and Masks of the Illustrious Characters of the Commedia dell'Arte. 1929. Reprint. Translated by Randolph T. Weaver, pp. 262-84. New York: Dover Publications, 1966.

[In the following essay, Duchartre outlines the major female roles of the commedia dell'arte: the Cantarina, or songstress; the Inamorata; and the Soubrette, or serving-girl.]

Their very names are redolent of dreams, the gracious names of these Inamoratas, some of whom were tender, some false, some modest servant-maids, and some wantons....

(The entire section is 5847 words.)

Ruth E. Peabody (essay date 1984)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Peabody, Ruth E. “Characters and Actors.” In Commedia Works, pp. 7-22. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1984.

[In the following essay, Peabody outlines the main characters of the commedia dell'arte and names some of the actors who specialized in those roles.]

Commedia actors and their characters are inextricably interwoven. All elements are significant, but the life of the form resided within those creative performers whose development of particular stock types spanned entire careers. How did they accomplish this? Petrolini, a modern day Commedia actor, once responded: “I find the inspiration for my art simply in the exercise of my...

(The entire section is 3286 words.)

Jane Tylus (essay date 1997)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Tylus, Jane. “Women at the Windows: Commedia dell'arte and Theatrical Practice in Early Modern Italy.” Theatre Journal 49 (1997): 323-42.

[In the following essay, Tylus examines the roles women played in the commedia dell'arte, observing that the staging and stage direction for women's roles played upon expectations about women's social status.]


In a passage from Book 3 of the Discorsi, in the midst of a discussion of the violence that can overtake principalities, Niccolò Machiavelli calls attention to a singularly bizarre episode in Italian history. The incident occurred when conspirators who were formerly...

(The entire section is 10912 words.)