Ralph Roister Doister

by Nicholas Udall

Start Free Trial

Characters Discussed

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 596

Ralph Roister Doister

Ralph Roister Doister, a pompous braggart so taken with the idea of his own prowess that he believes no woman can resist him. He is gullible and is easy prey to the flattery and chicanery of Matthew Merrygreeke. His ridiculous efforts to be a romantic figure and his complete rout by the feminine forces in a pitched battle make him a laughable creation. He is a much-purified adaptation of the braggart soldier in Plautus’ Miles Gloriosus.

Matthew Merrygreeke

Matthew Merrygreeke, a witty parasite. He makes his living by sponging on characters like Ralph, whom he flatters fulsomely for free meals. His flattery, however, usually is mixed with irony. He enjoys stirring up strife. In the pitched battle between Ralph’s and the widow’s forces, he pretends to help Ralph but always misses the widow and lets his blows fall on Ralph.

Dame Christian Custance

Dame Christian Custance, a virtuous, humorless widow betrothed to Gawin Goodluck, who is away at sea. She is infuriated at Ralph’s suit. Her weapons against him do not include the laughter his behavior should arouse, and she is distressed by Gawin Goodluck’s questioning about her conduct. After he has been satisfied that she is blameless, she grudgingly consents to allow Ralph to appear in her presence at the feast of general reconciliation and celebration.

Margery “Madge” Mumblecrust

Margery “Madge” Mumblecrust, Dame Christian’s simpleminded nurse. She welcomes Ralph as a suitor of her mistress and greedily accepts his greeting kisses, first wiping her mouth vigorously. She readily agrees to deliver his love letter to her mistress, who scolds her severely for doing so.

Tibet Talkapace

Tibet Talkapace and

Annot Alyface

Annot Alyface, Dame Christian’s maids. Ralph is much taken with them and looks forward to having them around the house after he marries Dame Christian. He is much more eager to exchange greeting kisses with them than with toothless Margery, but they do not cooperate. They help out Dobinet Doughty on his mission to deliver love tokens, but after their scolding by their mistress, they will have no more of the whole business. Armed with spits and other domestic weapons, they aid in the rout of Ralph and his forces.

Gawin Goodluck

Gawin Goodluck, a merchant betrothed to Dame Christian. Reasonable and good-natured, he listens patiently to Dame Christian’s explanation of Sym Suresby’s report and to Tristram Trusty’s account of events. He is not angered by Ralph’s foolishness and urges Dame Christian to show charity appropriate to her name. Although he finally persuades her to be courteous to Ralph, he cannot persuade her to suffer him gladly.

Sym Suresby

Sym Suresby, Gawin’s loyal servant. He seems as serious as Dame Christian and misinterprets her relations with Ralph. His report to Gawin disturbs the latter and causes some difficulties.

Tristram Trusty

Tristram Trusty, a reliable friend of Gawin and Dame Christian. His trusted judgment and his report of the true situation, at Dame Christian’s entreaty, relieve Gawin’s mind and lead to the happy reconciliation.

Dobinet Doughty

Dobinet Doughty, Ralph’s servant-boy. He acts as Ralph’s emissary to Dame Christian’s house and for a time gains the confidence of Tibet Talkapace and Annot Alyface. He is one of Ralph’s defeated warriors in the assault on Dame Christian’s house.


Harpax, Ralph’s servant. He is a member of Ralph’s small defeated army.

A scrivener

A scrivener, who writes Ralph’s letter to Dame Christian. After its unfortunate misreading and hostile reception, he and Ralph quarrel.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access



Critical Essays