Last Updated on May 11, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 621
Diana (DYAH-nah), the countess of Belflor, who is like the gardener’s dog that will not eat the food or let anyone else enjoy it. Investigating the story of a man seen escaping from the top story of her palace, she discovers that her secretary, Teodoro, has been seeing Marcela, one of her ladies in waiting. At first, she gives permission for their wedding, but then she changes her mind and in a letter dictated to Teodoro hints at her affection for him, though his blood is not noble. Meanwhile, she is courted by two nobles and consents to marry Ricardo, even while alternately encouraging and rejecting Teodoro. At last, angered by Teodoro, she wounds him with a knife. His announcement that he is leaving Naples for Madrid makes her decide to marry him; in addition, his servant has concocted a plan to make him one of the nobility. Although she is assured by Teodoro that the scheme is false, Diana decides that happiness is found in a union of souls, not of social classes, especially if they conceal the truth of his lowly status, so they marry.
Teodoro (tay-oh-DOH-roh), the secretary of Countess Diana. He loves Marcela, one of her ladies in waiting, but he turns to Diana, then back to Marcela, and again to his employer when her jealousy is aroused by seeing him embrace Marcela. At last, he tells Marcela to marry Fabio, but at his next rebuff by Diana, because of his lowly birth, he announces his departure for Spain. Too honorable to make false claims about noble blood, he refuses to let his servant Tristan persuade Count Ludovico to claim him as a long-lost son. Diana nevertheless takes him for her husband.
Tristan (trees-TAHN), the shrewd, picaresque servant of Teodoro. He protects his master by hurling his cap at a candle when Teodoro is almost discovered leaving Marcela’s chamber at night. Reluctantly, he advises his master to marry her; however, when Teodoro yearns for the countess, Tristan invents a noble lineage for him. On another occasion, when two nobles, Federico and Ricardo, want Teodoro killed, Tristan accepts their gold to commit the murder, then confesses the plot to his master. At the end, when everybody is getting married, he is paired off with Dorotea, a member of the countess’ household.
Marcela (mahr-THAY-lah), a good-hearted young woman who is looking, like most young women in Spanish comedies, for a husband. After her off-and-on engagement to Teodoro, she is satisfied to get Fabio instead.
Count Federico (fay-day-REE-koh), a mercenary noble who knows Diana’s wealth and comes wooing her. When he learns of Teodoro’s wound, he decides the man must have offended her, and he pays to have the secretary assassinated.
The Marquis Ricardo
The Marquis Ricardo (rree-KAHR-doh), a money-seeking suitor whom Diana at one time decides to marry as the lesser of two evils.
Fabio (FAH-byoh), a gentleman of Naples who is tossed from Anarda to Marcela as a possible husband, then ends in Marcela’s possession.
Anarda (ah-NAHR-dah), one of Diana’s ladies in waiting. She accuses Marcela of harboring a man in her room and hints that the man is Teodoro, in revenge for Marcela’s encouragement of Fabio, who is courting Anarda.
Dorotea (doh-roh-TAY-ah), another member of the countess’ household, who at the end becomes a consolation prize for Tristan.
Count Ludovico (lew-doh-BEE-koh), an elderly nobleman who, having lost a son named Teodoro twenty years earlier, is easily convinced by Tristan that his master is the missing boy.
(The entire section contains 882 words.)
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