These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community.
We are thankful of their contributions and encourage you to make your own.
Written by Calypso Carol
Figaro is the eponymous protagonist of the play. He is a young man engaged to be married to a woman whom he loves very much. He has a checkered history in that he does not know his family or his parents; all he knows is that he was kidnapped as a baby and he therefore has no last name to use. He goes only by his given name, Figaro. He is the Count's major-domo and valet and the two have a long relationship (he was key in enabling the Count to marry Rosine). Figaro seems to have an outstanding aptitude for coming up with plans that are often complicated and convoluted and usually involve pulling the wool over the eyes of the Count. He is a good hearted and thoroughly decent man. The author instructed that he be played without a hint of caricature - in other words, he did not want him made into a comic character, but wanted him to be played as a character in a comedic play.
It is only in his moments of extreme anger that Figaro exhibits animosity towards the aristocracy and ruling classes. For the most part he seems happy enough with his position, until Act Five when he rails against the bad luck he has had and the way in which life seems to single him out for lemons that he cannot seem to make into lemonade. His speech directed at the Count, in which he points out that the only thing that makes the Count important is his title, and that his character is severely lacking, is the part of the play that was objected to by the King at the time, Louis XVI. His observation is that the Count is ordinary but elevated because of his title, whereas Figaro is anything but ordinary in his character but lives in obscurity because of his lack of rank or status. This is clearly something that the aristocracy would not want pointed out to the audience.
The Count is the Governor of Andalucia, the region of Spain of which Seville is the "capital". He is married to the Countess Rosine, a marriage that was largely accomplished by underhanded tactics and trickery again created by the genius of Figaro. The author instructed that he be played with dignity and strength of character but this is hard to imagine on reading the play in its textual form, since the majority of the comedy-farce elements revolve around the Count and his tendency to hit on women he is not married to. The Count has a well-deserved reputation for being a womanizer and a philanderer but does not consider sauce for the goose being sauce for the gander too; when he thinks the Countess has lost interest in him he is contrite and of course immediately begs her forgiveness. He is apt to punish those whom he feels have wronged him but loyal to those, such as Figaro and Bazile, from whom he feels loyalty.
Suzanne is Countess Rosine's maid. She is engaged to Figaro and seems to love him very much. She is also loyal to her ladyship and wants to please. She is the latest object of the affections of the Count who wants to start an affair with her. The more she turns him down the more he wants her. She is unequivocal in her rejection of him, and because of this she is very hurt when Figaro believes that she has decided to meet him in the garden and begin an affair after all. She is intelligent and has a lively and pleasant demeanor but also has a certain restraint in her behavior.
The Countess is unhappily married to Almaviva and the main source of her unhappiness is not his wandering eye but also his wandering hands. She is beautiful, restrained and determined, ultimately pushed to the point of needing to humiliate her husband in order to either expedite a divorce or shame him into changing his behavior. She is a kind woman, giving Suzanne the money that Figaro needs to settle his debt with Marceline and thereby free him to marry Suzanne. Her marriage is actually the key marriage in the play despite the fact that it is titled after the impending nuptials of Figaro and Suzanne.
Cherubin is the Count's page and his name is designed to created the impression of a young and angelic young man with cherubic qualities. He falls in love easily and with every woman he meets but his most constant love seems to be directed towards Fanchette. Cherubin is the highest page in the household as he attends personally to the Count. He is also the Countess' Godson. He is the character upon whom the farce and the comedy falls the most since his is the most physically comic role (for example, calling upon him to dive from his hiding place behind the armchair over the top of it to the seat on the other side) and also the most farcical, as he is disguised frequently as a woman. He is a real charmer and quite a lively and willful young man but he is only really teen-ish and sulky in the presence of the Count.
Cherubin is usually played by a woman.
Marceline is the house-keeper for Dr Bartholo and is also the object of Bazile's affections. She has a crush on Figaro and wants to marry him despite being considerably older than he is. She once loaned him money and drew up an agreement stating that if he did not pay her back then he would marry her. Now that he is about to marry Suzanne Marceline has come to call in her debt. The court finds in her favor but fortunately she is paid back in the nick of time. She also recognizes some kind of mark on Figaro's arm that identifies him as the baby she gave up, and whom she had with Dr Bartholo. She ultimately marries the doctor to prevent Figaro living with the stigma of illegitimacy.
The Doctor was once Rosine's guardian and had wanted to marry her. He is therefore rather spitefully glad that her marriage to the Count is rather unhappy. He is also angry with Figaro for coming up with the plan that enabled the Count and Rosine to marry and so is pleased to be redressing the balance a little bit by sabotaging his wedding. When he discovers Figaro to be his son his attitude changes and he agrees to marry Marceline so that Figaro's marriage can go ahead as planned.
Fanchette is girlfriend to many of the men at the castle and is quite free with her favors. Her father is the castle gardener. She is problematical to the male character because of her tendency to invite them alone to her bedroom where they are invariably caught. Her role as go-between for the Count and Suzanne creates doubt in Figaro's mind as to his wife's fidelity.
Antonio is the castle gardener and Fanchette's father. He is also Suzanne's uncle and primary guardian so when he hears that Figaro is the illegitimate son of the Doctor and his housekeeper, he forbids the marriage. In order to get around this, Bartholo and Marceline marry, which actually makes Antonio a far more influential character than his position at the castle and his minimal role within the story line might suggest. It is also he who creates ire and panic within the Count as he is the one who reports a half naked man leaving the Countess's dressing room via the window.
Bazile is in love with Marceline which fades once he finds out she had a child with the doctor. He is a music teacher and music instructor to the Count and the Countess.
Update this section!
You can help us out by revising, improving and updating