The Maid of Honour Characters
by Philip Massinger

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Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Camiola (ka-mee-OH-lah), the “Maid of Honour.” Although she is deeply in love with Bertoldo, she refuses to marry him because of his vow of celibacy as a Knight of Malta. In spite of his faithlessness in accepting the love of Aurelia, Camiola forgives him, ransoms him, and wins him back to his knightly vows. She herself weds the church as a nun.


Roberto (roh-BEHR-toh), the king of Sicily. He is a just, reasonable, and peaceful monarch but is unwisely overindulgent to his evil favorite, Fulgentio. Camiola finally persuades him to renounce Fulgentio.


Bertoldo (behr-TOHL-doh), the half brother of the king. Eager for glory in battle, he disregards the king’s wishes and joins Duke Ferdinand in an unjust war on Siena. After being captured, he accepts the love of his captor, Duchess Aurelia, moved more by ambition than by desire. Shame heaped on him by Camiola leads to his repentance.


Fulgentio (fewl-JEHN-tee-oh), the king’s unworthy favorite. Arrogant, selfish, and unprincipled, he first tries to force Camiola to marry him, then tries to blacken her name. For this he is banished.


Sylli (SEE-lee), an absurd suitor for Camiola’s hand. He is convinced that she loves him to distraction until the moment that she announces her entrance into the convent.


Adorni (ah-DOHR-nee), a faithful, self-sacrificing youth in love with Camiola. Although he fails to win her, she endows him with a large fortune when she renounces the world.


Ferdinand, the duke of Urbin. Angry at being rejected by Aurelia, he attacks her land and suffers defeat.


Aurelia (oh-REE-lee-ah), the duchess of Siena. A proud and passionate woman, she conceives a violent infatuation for her prisoner Bertoldo.


Gonzaga (gohn-ZAH-gah), the Sienese general, a Knight of Malta. Recognizing his prisoner Bertoldo as a Knight of Malta fighting in an unjust cause, he degrades him and dismisses him from the order.


Astutio (ahs-TEWT-ee-oh), an ambassador to Siena from King Roberto.


(Great Characters in Literature)

Adler, Doris. Philip Massinger. Boston: Twayne, 1987. A brief but thorough overview of Massinger’s life and career. Traces his relationships and collaborations with other playwrights of his times. A good introductory volume.

Cruickshank, A. H. Philip Massinger. Oxford, England: University Press, 1920. Although dated, it remains one of the scholarly foundations for any study of Massinger and his work. Brief in terms of Massinger’s biography, it is much fuller in its assessment of his writings, especially their relationship to the literature of the period.

Edwards, Philip. “Massinger’s Men and Women.” In Philip Massinger: A Critical Reassessment, edited by Douglas Howard. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1985. Contains a perceptive and revealing study of Camiola, placing her in the context of drama of the period.

Eliot, T. S. “Philip Massinger.” Times Literary Supplement, May 27, 1920, 325-326. This influential essay, reprinted in a number of different volumes, contains much thought-provoking commentary on Massinger, especially his artistic and rhetorical abilities. Indispensable reading.

McDonald, Russ. “High Seriousness and Popular Form: The Case of the Maid of Honour.” In Philip Massinger: A Critical Reassessment, edited by Douglas Howard. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1985. A thorough and precise consideration of the drama, displaying clearly how Massinger uses the form of the testing play to present serious ethical and political ideas.