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Character Summary

Vincentio: the Duke who authorizes Angelo to rule Venice in his absence though his absence is only a seeming absence as he--the Duke--remains in Venice incognito as Friar Lodowick

Escalus: an ancient lord whose knowledge of statemanship is unparalleled and who is put in charge to the execute the Duke's command which is to fully authorize Angelo as Vienna's proxy ruler

Angelo: a high ranking official who is authorized to act as the Duke's proxy while the Duke is ostensibly away because of his seemingly austere and virtuous reputation

Lucio: a blaspheming, unprincipled dandy and man about town

Gentlemen 1 and 2: men who talk and gossip with Lucio and complain of their illnesses contracted in brothels

Mistress Overdone: the proprietor of a bawdy house (brothel) and a bawd (prostitute) herself

Pompey: a clown and a servant to Mistress Overdone

Claudio: a young nobleman who is Isabel's brother and who is slated to have his head chopped off for unlawful (unmarried) fornication

Provost: an officer of the state who helps Friar Lodowick preserve Claudio's life

Friar Thomas: the friar who provides Vincentio with a friar's robe with which Vincentio will circulate incognito through Vienna

Isabel: a novice in a priory, she is Claudio's sister who attempts to persuade Lord Angelo to commute her brother's death sentence

Francisca: a nun who teaches Isabel that a nun may only speak to a man if she is veiled and in the presence of a prioress or if she is not veiled and she shows her face to a man that she cannot speak and vice-versa

Elbow: a constable who excels at malapropisms

Froth: a foolish gentleman

Juliet: Claudio's lover who has gotten pregnant though she is unwed, landing her in jail

Mariana: Angelo's betrothed who is falsely accused of being unfathful and who is abandoned when her marriage dowry is lost at sea; she is vindicated though when via Vincetio and Isabel's plan she compels Angelo to honor the contract eventually

Abhorson: the executioner who is to carry out Claudio's and Barnardine's death sentences

Friar Peter: a friar who helps the Duke undo Angelo

Barnardine: a prisoner who is perpetually drunk and does not really care if he lives or dies

William Shakespeare