Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 256
Antonio, the coxcomb, a ridiculous parody of the conventional friend. He insists that his traveling companion, Mercury, visit his home. Finding that Mercury is infatuated with his wife, he decides to become immortal as a famous friend. He appears in various disguises attempting to persuade Maria to commit adultery with Mercury.
Maria, Antonio’s beautiful but heartless wife. She sees through Antonio’s disguises and thwarts him several times, finally having the disguised Antonio accused of murdering the real Antonio. At last, she becomes so irritated with him that she commits adultery with Mercury.
Mercury, Antonio’s traveling companion. Overwhelmed with Antonio’s fatuous friendship and horrified at his own passion for Maria, he strives to avoid temptation, but Maria breaks down his resistance. After the adulterous affair, he loses interest in her.
Viola, a lovely and virtuous young girl. After running away from home to marry Ricardo, she finds him drunk, rowdy, and dangerous. Fleeing from him, she suffers various perils and hardships. Moved to tenderness by his repentance, she forgives him and consents to marry him.
Ricardo, Viola’s sweetheart. On his proposed wedding night, he is drunk and mistakes Viola for a harlot, terrifying her into flight. Repentant, he devotes himself to finding her. When he does find her as a servant of Mercury’s mother, he confesses his unworthiness and begs forgiveness.
Valerio, a married man who befriends Viola but attempts to make her his mistress. Ricardo persuades him to help in her discovery.
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