Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 303

Valentine Legend

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Valentine Legend, a young would-be playwright. He loves Angelica. He is also in debt, having wasted his money in high living. Although he falls into disfavor with his father, Sir Sampson Legend, he redeems himself and eventually marries Angelica.

Sir Sampson Legend

Sir Sampson Legend, who decides to disinherit his son Valentine, a wastrel. His plan fails when Valentine feigns madness.

Angelica

Angelica, a beautiful young woman loved by Valentine. She is both wealthy and clever. Loving Valentine, she puts up with his temporary faults and finally marries him.

Jeremy

Jeremy, Valentine’s clever but knavish servant.

Trapland

Trapland, a lecherous, elderly scrivener, one of Valentine’s creditors.

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Latest answer posted August 2, 2019, 12:47 pm (UTC)

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Scandal

Scandal, Valentine’s friend. He plays upon Foresight’s belief in astrology to prevent a marriage between Ben Legend and Prue Foresight. He also flirts with Mrs. Foresight, a young woman married to an old man.

Ben Legend

Ben Legend, Valentine’s young brother, who stands to inherit Sir Sampson’s estate if Valentine is cut off.

Foresight

Foresight, a foolish old man who believes in astrology and has a young wife. He is Angelica’s uncle. He realizes at last that he is really an old fool and admits it.

Prue Foresight

Prue Foresight, his countrified daughter. She dislikes Ben, whom her father wants her to marry. Although she is fascinated by Tattle, who almost succeeds in seducing her, she ends up wanting to marry Robin, a butler.

Mrs. Foresight

Mrs. Foresight, Foresight’s young, flirtatious wife.

Mistress Frail

Mistress Frail, Mrs. Foresight’s sister. She wants to marry a rich man, but she is finally tricked into marrying Tattle.

Tattle

Tattle, a talkative young dandy. He is tricked into marrying Mistress Frail.

Buckram

Buckram, a lawyer working for Sir Sampson.

Robin

Robin, a butler who is in love with Prue.

Characters

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1641

Angelica
Angelica is Valentine’s beloved, a saucy, independent young woman possessed of ‘‘a considerable fortune.’’ We first see Angelica in her uncle’s house, asking her uncle for the loan of his carriage so that she can ‘‘gad about’’ town. During the play, we see her in no affectionate or loving exchanges with Valentine; rather, their scenes together reveal her wit and self-assuredness. She tests Valentine’s love by pretending to desire his father, Sir Sampson, who assures her of his youthful vigor. Like a perfect coquette, she commits to no man, feigning indifference to all.

At the same time that she demonstrates her own wit, Angelica is suspicious of the motivations of witty men, telling Valentine that ‘‘She that marries a very Witty Man submits both to the Severity and insolent Conduct of her Husband. I should like a Man of Wit for a Lover, because I would have such a one in my Power; but I would no more be his Wife than his Enemy.’’ Her role in the play is to ‘‘unmask’’ or reveal the characters’ true natures that lie beneath the pretenses they put on. Through her, we learn that Sir Sampson cares for neither son; because of her, Valentine’s genuinely loving side comes out; her conversation shows Foresight’s astrological ideas to be idiotic. She is by no means ‘‘angelic,’’ but in many ways she is the moral center of the play, for her actions reveal the dishonesties of the other characters.

Jeremy Fetch
Jeremy is Valentine’s servant, who jokes about wishing to be released from his contract. Jeremy feels himself to be above servant status and mentions twice that he has been ‘‘at Cambridge’’ (albeit as a servant) and has picked up some education from his master there. Valentine confides in him and uses him to advance his plans. In the first act, he is quite impudent to Valentine, making fun of him and even criticizing his master’s refusal to pay his debts. In act IV, though, it is Jeremy who is the intermediary between Valentine and the people to whom Valentine wishes to appear insane. Jeremy’s purported intelligence and education are generally undercut by the other characters, who scoff at his pretense. In a scene not depicted on stage, we learn that Jeremy is quite clever, indeed: he tricks Tattle and Mrs. Frail into marrying each other, when they both were attempting to trick others into marrying them (Tattle sought Angelica’s hand, while Mrs. Frail pursued Ben).

Mr. Foresight
Foresight is Angelica’s uncle. He is a blowhard obsessed with astrological omens and other such pseudoscience. From the second act on, he interprets everyone’s comments as veiled knowledge about Mrs. Foresight’s infidelities. His name is clearly ironic: all of his astrological readings and divinations are aimed at providing him with foresight, or a knowledge of the future, but he is probably the least perceptive character in the play.

Mrs. Foresight
Mrs. Foresight is Angelica’s aunt. She and Mrs. Frail, who are sisters, attempt to break up the impending marriage between Ben and Miss Prue in order to marry Mrs. Frail to Ben. Like her husband’s name, hers is meant to be ironic, for her plot to marry Mrs. Frail to Ben falls apart because she lacks a sufficient understanding of human nature.

Mrs. Frail
Mrs. Frail is Mrs. Foresight’s sister. She is unmarried and in the market for a husband, and, before the play opens, she has already had an affair with Tattle. However, Mrs. Foresight feels that she behaves much too promiscuously to land a worthy husband. As a result, the two of them hatch a plan to land Ben as a husband for Mrs. Frail. Their plan fails, however, and Mrs. Frail ends up married to Tattle. She is hardly ‘‘frail’’; she is a calculating and headstrong woman who is not timid about going after what she wants: Ben’s fortune.

Benjamin Legend
Benjamin is Valentine’s brother, a sailor just returned from a three-year voyage. Benjamin is primarily a plot device and an object of fun. His role is that of the ‘‘good brother’’ whom Sir Sampson contrasts with ‘‘bad brother’’ Valentine, who is asked to sign over his future inheritance to Ben. Ben has been directed to marry Miss Prue but has little affection for her. Instead, Mrs. Frail develops a liking for him when she discovers his future fortune. Ben’s primary personal characteristic is his simplicity: he cannot fathom the duplicity, game playing, and plots that underlie all personal relationships among these urban sophisticates. His other important characteristic is his ‘‘sea-dog’’ language, which is a constant source of humor for the audience.

Valentine Legend
Valentine is a young ‘‘rake,’’ or idle upperclass gentleman. His name alludes to his attraction to the ladies and their attraction to him. He owes a great deal of money to various creditors and has exhausted his father’s patience with his spending. In addition, the play makes it clear that Valentine has done his share of corrupting young women. His most immediate motivations are to avoid paying his debts and to marry the young lady Angelica.

As the play opens and closes with Valentine as the central focus, he is the character most likely to be considered Love for Love’s ‘‘protagonist.’’ He is also the character who comes closest to changing or developing. However, he is absent for much of the play. We see him in his chamber at the beginning, avoiding ‘‘duns’’ (debt collectors)—one of which is a young nurse who attempts to obtain money from him to support one of his illegitimate children—and bantering with his manservant and hatching plans with his friend Scandal. During the course of the play he tries to avoid seeing his father (who wants him to sign his inheritance over to his brother Benjamin) and eventually feigns madness in order to avoid his responsibilities. But at the opening of the play, he is not the typical ‘‘rake’’ character, for he wishes to drop out of society and live as a writer and thinker. His servant Jeremy and his friend Scandal persuade him that this route would be fruitless, however.

By the end, he seems to change. Only at the last minute, when he learns of Angelica’s intent to marry his father, does Valentine abandon his scheme to get as much money as possible from his father, telling Angelica that he is willing to let her go and sign over his inheritance in order to secure her happiness. While his earlier credo may have been ‘‘Love for Money’’ (to quote the title of a contemporary play), when Love for Love ends, Valentine demonstrates that he is indeed willing to pursue love as an end in itself.

Miss Prue
Miss Prue is Foresight’s daughter by a previous marriage. She is young, naïve, ‘‘a silly, awkward, country girl.’’ Not being sophisticated enough to understand the complicated plots and schemes of the people around her, she falls in love with Tattle, whom she wishes to make her husband. Her father refuses to arrange this, and when she then demands to be married to Robin, the butler, her father locks her in her room. Despite her name, she is neither prudent nor prudish. At the end of the second act, she allows herself to be seduced by Tattle, and, in terms of prudence, she has none, making snap decisions without any concern for their long-term consequences.

Sir Sampson
Sir Sampson is Benjamin and Valentine’s father. He has a considerable amount of money and resents the fact that Valentine has been running through his estate with his fast living. In response, he offers Valentine a deal: sign over his future inheritance to his brother and Sir Sampson will give him four thousand pounds on the spot. Valentine takes the four thousand pounds in advance but feigns insanity to avoid signing the papers, which infuriates Sir Sampson.

Although at first Sir Sampson seems to feel affection for his son Ben, we learn as the play goes on that he really loves neither son. When Angelica begins to show interest in Sir Sampson, he is ready to write off both sons and spend their money himself. He is a selfish and arrogant man. Sir Sampson’s name puns on the Biblical Samson, who destroyed a house by knocking down its pillars; Sir Sampson is willing to destroy his own house by his utter lack of care and affection for his sons.

Scandal
Scandal is Valentine’s closest friend. He is a rake like Valentine but less coldhearted than Valentine at first is. When Valentine expresses disgust that the mother of one of his children did not smother the child, Scandal merely expresses his best wishes for his ‘‘Godchild’’ and sends money. Scandal helps Valentine appear insane for the purpose of winning Angelica. His function is to provide a mellowing influence on Valentine, who, without the presence of Scandal, would be a truly reprehensible character until the final scene of the play. Like most of the other names in the play, his is ironic; of the two friends, Scandal and Valentine, Scandal is by far the less scandalous.

Tattle
Tattle is largely an object of fun in the play. He brags constantly about his success with the ladies; however, his rhetoric is always undercut by reality. He develops an affection for Miss Prue and, by the end of the second act, attempts to seduce her. At the end of the play, he accidentally marries Mrs. Frail, whom he has already debauched.

Trapland
Trapland is a scrivener, or a professional scribe, to whom Valentine owes money. He shows up in Valentine’s chamber in the first act when Valentine and Jeremy attempt to distract him from his mission.

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