Rule a Wife and Have a Wife

by John Fletcher

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The play is concerned with the marital plotting of two young couples. Juan de Castro and Michael Perez are two Spanish friends who meet a mysterious veiled woman, and Perez decides to marry her. The plot connects her with another woman who is married to Leon, a soldier in Don Juan’s service.

Leon is a young Spanish gentleman. Although neither a coward nor a fool, he enjoys pretending to be both. His wife, Margarita, is fooled by his charade into thinking he will be docile, but he turns the tables on her.

Margarita, a wealthy young woman who is more concerned with reputation than morality. She marries Leon believing that she can easily deceive and boss him around. As he works his charms, she realizes his value and becomes a faithful, obedient wife.

Juan de Castro, a colonel and veteran of many battles. He tries to mentor the wayward Leon.

Michael Perez, another soldier, is Juan’s friend. Wishing to marry a wealthy wife, he pretends to be rich himself. In marrying Estifania, however, he gets tricked; she is actually Margarita’s maid rather than an heiress. As they both discover each other’s deceptions, after a spate of disenchantment, they manage to make a go of their marriage.

Estifania is Margarita’s maid. While living in Margarita’s home, she disguises herself as a rich woman in order to attract a rich suitor and thus reels in Michael. Although she lied to him and stole from him, he forgives her and they enjoy married life under Leon’s and Margarita’s sponsorship.

The duke of Medina courts Margarita, who expects to take a lover after marriage. She later abandons this idea and refuses his advances.

Altea is Margarita’s companion and Leon’s sister, which Margarita learns much later. She plays the role of matchmaker between her brother and her friend.

Cacafogo is a buffoon who enjoys scheming and making trouble, especially when he is intoxicated.

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