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Gesualdo Motta

Gesualdo Motta (geh-sew-AHL-doh MOHT-tah), an ambitious peasant whose business acumen has made him into a rich landowner. Desiring gentility along with his riches, he marries Donna Bianca Trao, but the marriage succeeds only in widening the gaps on both sides of his world, leaving him hated by the peasantry, scorned by the gentry, and used by all for the wealth he had hoped would bring him satisfaction.

Bianca Trao

Bianca Trao (bee-AHN-kah trah-oh), a poor gentlewoman who marries Gesualdo Motta in the hope that his riches will ease the financial burdens of her family.

Isabella Motta

Isabella Motta (ee-zah-BEHL-lah), the daughter of Bianca Trao and Gesualdo Motta, who gradually grows away from the peasant Motta and eventually becomes completely a Trao. She is given in marriage to the duke di Leyra.

The duke di Leyra

The duke di Leyra, Isabella Motta’s extravagant husband, who soon runs through her dowry and then despoils Gesualdo Motta of his property.

Don Diego

Don Diego and

Don Ferdinando Trao

Don Ferdinando Trao, Bianca Trao’s brothers.


Santo (SAHN-toh) and

Speranza Motta

Speranza Motta (speh-RAHN-zah), Gesualdo’s brother and sister.

Fortunato Burgio

Fortunato Burgio (fohr-tew-NAH-toh bur-JEE-oh), Speranza Motta’s husband.

Nunzio Motta

Nunzio Motta (NEWN-zee-oh), Gesualdo Motta’s father.

Baron Ninì Rubiera

Baron Ninì Rubiera (nee-NEE rew-bee-EH-rah), Bianca Trao’s cousin and her lover before her marriage to Gesualdo Motta, to whom Ninì eventually goes hopelessly indebt.

Baroness Rubiera

Baroness Rubiera, Ninì’s mother, who refuses to allow her son to marry the fortuneless Bianca Trao.


Diodata (dee-oh-DAH-tah), Gesualdo Motta’s faithful, humble servant and mistress, who is married off to Nani l’Orbo.

Nani l’Orbo

Nani l’Orbo (NAH-nee LOHR -boh), Gesualdo Motta’s servant, married to Diodata. He blackmails his master, the father of Diodata’s children,...

(The entire section contains 464 words.)

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Critical Essays