Women Beware Women Characters
by Thomas Middleton

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Women Beware Women Characters

Women Beware Women by Thomas Middleton is a play about several affairs and how the people involved in them intersect and work against each other. The play is a tragedy.

Leantio is a poor man who works and has recently married Bianca. He is so jealous and paranoid that he instructs his mother to hide her away when he is at work. Once Bianca begins her affair, he starts one of his own with Livia. He is eventually murdered by the Duke of Florence and Livia's brother in order to protect Livia's honor and to allow Bianca to marry the Duke.

Bianca is the daughter of a wealthy family. She marries and moves in with Leantio. When he leaves and she is stuck at home, she sees the Duke of Florence. Livia schemes to bring Bianca into the Duke's orbit; Bianca is upset by it but does eventually fall for the Duke. She tries to poison the Cardinal—the Duke's brother—at the end of the play at a masquerade to celebrate her second wedding. Distraught when the Duke accidentally drinks the poison, she drinks it herself and dies.

Livia is a wealthy woman who arranges for her niece to have an affair with her brother by lying and saying that they are not related by blood. Later, she sets up Bianca and the Duke of Florence. She is killed by Isabella at the end of the play once Isabella knows the truth about the blood connection between her and the uncle she has been having an affair with.

Isabella is Livia and Hippolito's niece. Hippolito is in love with her, but she initially rebuffs him. They have an affair once she believes that they are not related. She dies when Livia pours heated gold on her at the end of the play.

Hippolito is Livia's brother and Isabella's uncle. He has an affair with Isabella. He is shot by poison arrows at the end of the play. The pain makes him throw himself on a sword.

Fabricio is Isabella's father.

Ward is a young man who gets engaged to Isabella.

Guardiano is the uncle of Ward. He is involved in Livia's plan to kill Hippolito.

The Duke of Florence falls in love with Bianca. He does not care that she is married and works to marry her. He dies accidentally drinking from a cup Bianca poisoned.

Lord Cardinal is the brother of the Duke. Bianca suspects he wants to take the Duke's position, so she tries to poison him.

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

The duke of Florence

The duke of Florence, a lecherous, ruthless ruler. Capturing Leantio’s wife with the aid of Livia and Guardiano, he takes her partly by force and partly by seduction. Later, having sworn an oath to his brother, the Lord Cardinal, that he will no longer live with her in adultery, he carries out his promise by having her husband killed and marrying her immediately thereafter. There is poetic justice in his death, for his new wife prepares poison for the good brother and a servant mistakenly serves it to the duke. He dies in agony.

The Lord Cardinal

The Lord Cardinal, the duke’s brother. He preaches morality with vehemence and at length but has little or no effect on the multipresent evils of the corrupt court. He remains alive to deliver a last blast of morality after the holocaust at the play’s end.


Fabricio (fah-BREE-chee-oh), the father of Isabella. A foolish, ineffectual man, he insists on marrying his daughter to the rich ward of Guardiano. He is stunned with horror in the final scene but is alive at the play’s end.


Hippolito (eep-POH-lee-toh), Fabricio’s brother. Devoured by incestuous lust, with the aid of his sister Livia he corrupts his niece. He kills Leantio for family pride after the duke has let him know that Leantio and Livia are having an illicit affair. Just before his own death, he speaks lines that give the tone of the play: “Lust and forgetfulness has been amongst us,/ And we are brought to nothing.”


Livia (LEE -vee-ah), the sister of Fabricio and Hippolito. The essence of evil in a play crawling with evil, she aids the duke in his plan to ravish Bianca. She lies to Isabella, telling her that she is not the daughter of Fabricio and therefore not the niece of Hippolito....

(The entire section is 1,269 words.)