A citizen (George), a London grocer. He takes his wife and servant to the theater and insists that the actors include in their play the exploits of some member of his profession. He frequently comments on the progress of the action, reassures his wife, and suggests at intervals additional adventures for his hero.
Nell, his naïve wife, who is given to malapropisms. Deeply concerned for the welfare of the characters in the play, she alternately advises them, sympathizes with them, and discusses their difficulties with her devoted husband.
Ralph (or Rafe), their servant, well known for his histrionic talents. Encouraged by his mistress, he steps into the play within the play as George’s grocer-hero, the Knight of the Burning Pestle. The knight is, like Don Quixote, an avid reader of romances, and he resolves to win honor and the favor of his lady, Susan, “the cobbler’s maid in Milk Street,” by rescuing distressed damsels. His heroic efforts to aid Mistress Merrythought and Humphrey are doomed to failure, but he wins, in his own view, a signal victory over the giant Barbaroso, the village barber.
George, the knight’s witty apprentices. They accompany him on his adventures, acting as his squire and his dwarf, and take great delight in using the courtly phrases their master teaches them.
Venturewell, a strong-minded, quick-tempered London merchant. He is continually infuriated by his apprentice Jasper and his...
(The entire section is 669 words.)