Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 246
Mr. Dangle, a wealthy Londoner who is stagestruck and brings into his house a constant parade of musicians, actors, critics, and other theatrical types. He is one of the witnesses to the rehearsal of Mr. Puff’s new play.
Mrs. Dangle, Mr. Dangle’s wife, who objects to the stream of theatrical callers who clutter up her house. She discusses the theater and drama with Mr. Sneer, who comes to call, and also rescues her husband from some musicians who cannot speak English but want him to get jobs for them.
Mr. Puff, a playwright as well as a press agent who praises things for a price. He has several categories of “puffs” that he writes in praise of anyone or anything when he is well paid. His play is the one being rehearsed, and he quarrels with the actors and the under-prompter because they have cut his lines and scenes and because the scenery has not been made. Mr. Puff is very proud of his playwriting ability.
Mr. Sneer, Mr. Dangle’s friend, with whom he discusses the theater. He is one of the group who watch the rehearsal of Mr. Puff’s play.
Sir Fretful Plagiary
Sir Fretful Plagiary, a dramatist who cannot stand any kind of criticism of his work. He brushes aside any critical remarks about his new play and holds forth at great length against those who say anything unflattering about his playwriting.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 2037
Lord Burleigh, the Lord Treasurer and chief minister under Queen Elizabeth I, appears in Puff’s The Spanish Armada as a completely silent man. His simple shaking of the head communicates the need for the English to show a greater spirit if they are to defeat their Spanish enemies.
Mr. Dangle is the critic of the play’s title. Dangle’s great love is the stage; the opening scene of the play shows him disregarding newspaper articles about important current events in favor of one that tells him about the theatre. ‘‘I hate all politics but theatrical politics,’’ he explains to his wife as he hurriedly reads of a new play in production. Dangle finds great satisfaction in his position as ‘‘the head of a band of criticks,’’ as his judgment of a play is so widely sought and revered. All members of the theatrical world seek his patronage because his word is enough to spark their careers; as he explains, there are ‘‘applications from all quarters’’ for his ‘‘interest.’’ In act 1, scene ii, for example, Dangle receives some Italian singers in his drawing room and behaves like a king at court, despite the fact that he can barely understand them (or their translator). As his name suggests, there is something silly about a man who ‘‘dangles’’ around theaters and greenrooms, mingling with those who often hold a less-than-respectable position in London society. His self-importance makes him, therefore, an object of gentle ridicule: a man completely caught up in the work of others and determined to tell the public what it should think about its own tastes. Even his wife finds his devotion to theatrical matters laughable and unworthy of the effort with which he peruses them.
Nothing in the play suggests that Dangle is a harsh or brutal judge, as the term ‘‘critic’’ sometimes connotes. Indeed, each complaint he voices against Sir Fretful is followed by ‘‘tho’ he’s my friend’’ to suggest that Dangle takes no joy in trouncing someone’s creative labors. When Sir Fretful arrives at Dangle’s home, Dangle takes pains to spare his feelings when pointing out what he thinks of his latest tragedy: he prefaces his criticism by telling Sir Fretful that his first four acts are the best he ‘‘ever read or saw’’ before stating, ‘‘If I might venture...
(The entire section contains 2283 words.)
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