Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Torrismond (TOHR-ihs-muhnd), the reputed son of Raymond but actually the son of the deposed King Sancho of Aragon. This gallant young warrior has just saved the kingdom from the Moors. Returning, he valiantly declares his love for Queen Leonora in the presence of his rival, Bertran, the duke who has been defeated three times by the Moors but who is betrothed to the queen. Torrismond, true to the dictates of his conscience, weds the queen without knowing that there is a plot to murder the imprisoned King Sancho. Turning first toward, then away from, his wife, he is urged to join the loyalists led by Raymond, exiled since the usurper king and then the usurper’s daughter, Queen Leonora, came to power. Torrismond remains loyal to his wife. He is overjoyed when he learns that Bertran had merely spread the rumor that King Sancho was dead. Further, he feels that as prince regent he can successfully rule the kingdom.

Queen Leonora

Queen Leonora (lay-uh-noh-rah), the successor to her father’s usurped throne, betrothed to Bertran but actually in love with Torrismond, the savior of Aragon. Beautiful yet benevolent, Leonora is overwhelmed with love for the warrior hero, a sense of obligation to the people of her kingdom who suffer invasion because she had turned down the marriage proposal of a Moorish king, and guilt for not loving as her father directed. She craftily tests Bertran, who offers to kill Sancho, the rightful king, but she regrets her actions when she discovers...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Eliot, T. S. John Dryden: The Poet, the Dramatist, the Critic. 1932. Reprint. New York: Haskell House, 1966. Eliot’s discussion helped introduce Dryden to twentieth century audiences and still serves as a starting point for other critiques. Although very generalized, it highlights reasons why Dryden’s plays continue to fascinate critics and students.

Hopkins, David. John Dryden. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1986. Within this updated assessment of Dryden’s place among English writers, Hopkins provides an introduction to The Spanish Friar for new readers. He includes a plot summary and focuses on Dryden’s preface.

Loftis, John. “Chapter Two: Dryden’s Comedies.” In Writers and Their Background: John Dryden, edited by Earl Miner. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1972. Carefully differentiating between the play’s comic and serious plots, this discussion calls attention to the English political context, especially the anti-Catholic bias and the Exclusion Controversy.

Ward, Charles E. The Life of John Dryden. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1961. This biography puts the play in the context of Dryden’s career and details the play’s political background, performances, and audience. Ward interprets the main character, Friar Dominic, as a satirization of Catholicism rather than of the clergy.

Wasserman, George R. John Dryden. New York: Twayne, 1964. Wasserman gives an overview of Dryden’s life and works. He fits The Spanish Friar among the tragicomedies and draws heavily on Dryden’s interest in Ben Jonson’s comedy of humours prototype in discussing style and theatrical context.