The Faithful Shepherdess

by John Fletcher

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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 578


Clorin (KLOH-reen), the faithful shepherdess. She lives in a sacred grove beside the tomb of her dead lover, mourning him and cultivating herbs to heal injured shepherds. She finds her chastity a magical defense against all evils of the wood, and her healing arts are effective only when she has purged her patients of lust.


Thenot (tay-NOH), a disillusioned shepherd who loves Clorin for the virtue and constancy that he finds in her alone. He languishes in this passion, which by its very nature cannot be satisfied, until Clorin mercifully decides to free him from it by offering to return his love and forsake her dead sweetheart. His illusions shattered, he leaves her, resolving to choose a lady for her beauty and convinced that no woman can be loved for her merit.


Perigot (pay-ree-GOH), a virtuous young shepherd who gives extravagant assurances of his undying love for Amoret. Deceived by Amaryllis’ transformation, he is horrified to hear her offer herself to him, and he twice wounds the real Amoret, who appears soon afterward, for deceiving him. Clorin restores his faith in his beloved, and they are happily reconciled.


Amoret (AM-oh-reht), Perigot’s sweetheart, whose beauty and innocence win the devotion of a river god and a satyr as well as the love of her shepherd swain. Although she cannot understand Perigot’s treatment of her, she quickly forgives him and again promises him her hand and heart.


Amaryllis (am-eh-RIHL-ihs), a passionate shepherdess who desires Perigot and has herself magically disguised as Amoret to win him for herself. His misery awakens her sympathy, and she tells him the truth before she flees the Sullen Shepherd, whose help she had enlisted by promising him her love. She is rescued and cleansed by the Priest of Pan.


Cloe (KLOH-ee), another lustful shepherdess who makes assignations with both Daphnis and Alexis, hoping to compensate for the shyness of the one by the boldness of the other. She, like Perigot, is purified by Clorin’s teaching.


Daphnis (DAF-nihs), her shy, modest admirer. Blind to her desires, he assures her of his virtuous affection.


Alexis (uh-LEHK-sihs), Cloe’s more passionate suitor. Wounded by the Sullen Shepherd, he is healed of both his injury and his lust by Clorin.

The Sullen Shepherd

The Sullen Shepherd, who is almost the personification of blind desire. He professes love to Amaryllis and aids her in separating Perigot and Amoret, but he confesses secretly that any woman satisfies him and that he is willing to use any trick to win one.

A satyr

A satyr, a gentle creature of nature who worships Clorin and brings her gifts of fruit from the wood. He searches the forest to bring to her those who need her help and carries out the mystic rites that purify her grove.

The Priest of Pan

The Priest of Pan, the guardian of all the shepherds. He rescues Amaryllis, then goes to Clorin’s grove to find the rest of his flock, bless them, and send them to their homes with a hymn to Pan.

An old shepherd

An old shepherd, his companion, who notes disapprovingly the disappearance of the young shepherds and shepherdesses into the wood.

The God of the River

The God of the River, Amoret’s protector, who raises her from the fountain where the Sullen Shepherd has dropped her. He begs her to leave her mortal life and join him in his crystal streams.


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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 266

Appleton, William W. Beaumont and Fletcher: A Critical Study. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1956. Appleton equivocates about the merits of

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. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1956. Appleton equivocates about the merits ofThe Faithful Shepherdess, but he shows that this play and other tragicomedies, though being hybrids and reflecting a decadent age, are important forerunners of Restoration heroic drama.

Edwards, Philip. “The Danger not the Death: The Art of John Fletcher.” In Jacobean Theatre, edited by John Russell Brown and Bernard Harris. New York: Capricorn Books, 1967. Edwards analyzes what he considers the key elements in Fletcher’s plays: improbable, elaborately complicated plots; prurience; strong scenes; mystification and disguise; and disputation and persuasion.

Ellis-Fermor, Una. The Jacobean Drama: An Interpretation. New York: Vintage Books, 1964. In the chapter on Fletcher and his collaborator Francis Beaumont, Ellis-Fermor treats the tragicomic genre in detail and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the form in various plays, including The Faithful Shepherdess. Declares that this play has a weak plot but some fine poetry.

Finkelpearl, Philip J. Court and Country Politics in the Plays of Beaumont and Fletcher. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1990. Looking at the plays as dramatic criticisms of the court and monarch, Finkelpearl links Clorin and Pan in The Faithful Shepherdess (which he says is the prototypical Fletcher tragicomedy) with Elizabeth I and James I.

Leech, Clifford. The John Fletcher Plays. London: Chatto & Windus, 1962. Analyzes the pastoral form, language, and poetry of The Faithful Shepherdess, which distinguish it from other Fletcher plays. Shows that Fletcher’s attitude toward human behavior first emerges in this early work. Also discusses similarities between The Faithful Shepherdess and William Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1611).




Critical Essays