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Figaro

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Figaro (FEE-gah-roh), a valet to Count Almaviva. In Beaumarchais’ earlier comedy The Barber of Seville (1775), Figaro had helped the young count to marry Rosine. With the passage of time, however, the count has begun to treat Figaro rather badly, and Figaro fears that the count may assert his nonexistent “lord’s right” to sleep with Figaro’s fiancée, Suzanne. Figaro is quite willing to assist the count in his amorous adventures with women other than the countess, but he draws a line when it concerns Suzanne. Although he loves Suzanne, Figaro is tormented by jealousy. In his famous monologue in act V, Figaro laments both the allegation of Suzanne’s infidelity, which is based on misinformation, and the corruptive power of the nobility. Throughout this comedy, Figaro expresses both subservience to his master and a desire to free himself from the count’s oppressive power over his life. Fortuitous events prevent unsympathetic characters from achieving their evil designs, and Figaro and Suzanne are married at the end of act V.

Suzanne

Suzanne, a maid to Countess Almaviva and the fiancée of Figaro. She truly loves Figaro but regrets that Figaro and the count tend to take women for granted. She and the countess decide to teach Figaro and the count a lesson. Suzanne and the countess trade places and clothing. When the count is with the woman he believes to be Suzanne, he actually is with his wife. By switching roles and deceiving both Figaro and the count, the women achieve their goal of teaching their men to pay more respect to them.

Count Almaviva

Count Almaviva (ahl-mah-VEE-vah), an Andalusian nobleman who had married Rosine in act V of The Barber of Seville. In the earlier play, the count was a sympathetic and considerate suitor, but here he is insensitive and exploitative. He does not hide his interest in other women from his wife and thus humiliates her in front of others. The count does his best to prevent Suzanne from marrying Figaro, but his attempts to separate them fail when his wife disguises herself as Suzanne and allows her husband to court her. She plays her role so well that both the count and the jealous Figaro believe her to be Suzanne. Once his error is made public, the humiliated count has no choice but to permit Suzanne’s marriage to Figaro and to reaffirm his love for the countess.

Countess Almaviva

Countess Almaviva, the wife of Count Almaviva. She is portrayed as a very lonely but dignified woman. She resents her husband’s rakish behavior, but she does not want other women to learn that the count is now more attracted to younger women. With the assistance of her maid Suzanne and the count’s young page Chérubin, she tricks her husband into realizing that her mature love for him is more meaningful than his lust for more physically attractive women. She is a psychologically profound character who seeks to reconcile her search for happiness through married love with her desire to maintain her high social standing.

Chérubin

Chérubin (SHAY-rew-ban), the count’s male page. The role of Chérubin traditionally is played by a young actress. Having a woman play the role of Chérubin makes it more believable when the countess has Chérubin dress as a woman in order to attract the attention of the lascivious count.

Bridoison

Bridoison, a judge with a noticeable speech defect whose main role is to come on stage for the planned marriage of Figaro and Suzanne. His final comments end the play and underline the central role of chance in the count’s failure to frustrate the search for happiness by Suzanne, Figaro, and the countess.

Dr. Bártholo

Dr. Bártholo (BAHR-toh-loh), the former guardian of the countess. He seeks revenge on the count and on Figaro.

Marceline

Marceline (mahrs-eh-LAYN ), the elderly housekeeper, a creditor of Figaro....

(The entire section contains 1639 words.)

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