Philaster (fi-LAS-tur), the rightful heir to the Sicilian kingdom. Although he is popular with the people who should be his subjects and with several of his noblemen, he lacks the strength of character to attempt to regain his throne. His melancholy, poetic personality is that of a weaker Hamlet; he calls himself “a thing born without passion, a faint shadow that every drunken cloud sails over and makes nothing.” He is a typical romantic hero in his longing for refuge in a pastoral world and in his distraught reaction to Arethusa when he thinks she has been unfaithful to him. He shows, in his defiance of the king and Pharamond, occasional flashes of courage that foreshadow the resoluteness with which he finally takes over his kingdom.
The king of Calabria
The king of Calabria, usurper of the throne of Sicily. He is an autocratic ruler, one quickly angered when his wishes are opposed, but he fears Philaster’s popularity too much to give complete vent to his rage against the young prince. He is, like several of the fathers in the Shakespearean romances, redeemed by his recognition of his own wrongdoing and by the virtue and the love of Philaster and his daughter.
Arethusa (AR-eh-thew-zuh), the daughter of the king, betrothed by her father to Pharamond. She possesses the courage and resourcefulness of a Viola and a Rosalind, forthrightly telling Philaster of her love for him and plotting with her ladies to expose Pharamond’s wickedness. She is puzzled, but not...
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