(Great Characters in Literature)

Characters Discussed

Mr. James Formal

Mr. James Formal, known as Don Diego, the father of Hippolita. Engaged in trade with the Spaniards, he is so enamored of their gallantry and pride that he attempts to imitate their manners and confines his daughter to her house in true Spanish fashion. Blinded by his pride, he allows himself to be duped by Hippolita and her allies to the point where, to save face, he must pretend to have been a willing collaborator in her plans to wed Mr. Gerrard.


Hippolita, the daughter of Mr. Formal. Although she is engaged to her cousin, Mr. Paris, and confined to her home by her father, she manages to become enamored of Mr. Gerrard, whom she sees from her balcony. Through a series of ruses, she, Mr. Gerrard, and her maid, Prue, contrive to deceive her father and her fiancé and bring about a wedding between her and her beloved.

Mr. Paris

Mr. Paris, the nephew of Mr. Formal and the approved suitor of Hippolita. Fresh from Paris, he affects French manners to the point of absurdity, and his silliness causes him to be the willing dupe of Hippolita in her love affair with Mr. Gerrard.

Mr. Gerrard

Mr. Gerrard, a young gentleman about town who courts Hippolita while disguised as a dancing master. His suit is aided by Mr. Formal’s fierce Spanish pride in his ability to protect his daughter under his own roof. Mr. Gerrard marries the lady under the deceived parent’s nose.

Mrs. Caution

Mrs. Caution, Mr. James Formal’s sister and Hippolita’s duenna.


Prue, Hippolita’s resourceful maid and ally.

Mistress Flirt

Mistress Flirt, a prostitute by whom Mr. Paris is undone.

Mr. Martin

Mr. Martin, Mr. Gerrard’s friend and ally.