The Belle's Stratagem


The play's double plotline concerns the romance between Letitia Hardy and Doricourt, as well as the relationship between Sir George Touchwood and his wife, Lady Frances Touchwood. The story comes to a dénouement at the masquerade ball of the last act. As described by the press office of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival,

"Set in 1780's London, The Belle's Stratagem is the tale of Letitia Hardy, promised to the charming Doricourt whom she hasn't seen since childhood. Her plan to enchant him with her wit and charm is turned upside-down when she discovers she's fallen madly in love with him, and he seems quite unmoved by her. Desiring to marry a man who adores her equally, she plans a bold deception--to have love as she likes it. Interwoven with Letitia's scheme to trick Doricourt into passion is the story of the newly married Touchwoods. Sir George is wildly jealous of his lovely country-bred wife and his fear of her being corrupted by fashionable life encourages plots by his acquaintance to turn Lady Frances into a fine lady in order to spite Sir George."

The role of the ingenue heroine, Letitia Hardy, proved to be a successful vehicle in Paris for Harriet Smithson, who infatuated Hector Berlioz. It was also "a favorite role" for Ellen Terry,[4] who was both photographed and engraved in her character's costume.[5]

Characters include...

  • Kitty Willis,
  • Tony,
  • Saville,
  • Courtall,
  • Doricourt,
  • Flutter,
  • Villers,
  • Mrs. Racket,
  • Letitia Hardy,
  • Old Hardy,
  • Sir George Touchwood,
  • Miss Ogle,
  • Lady Frances Touchwood

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