An entitled aristocrat masquerading as a poor but honest ensign for the purpose of wooing the romantic Lydia Languish. He is dogged in his determination to win Lydia's hand, and he has a playful approach to their courtship. Eventually, when the truth comes out, Lydia is angry with Jack, but he continues to fight for her affections nonetheless.
Lydia is a 17-year-old noblewoman inclined to fantasy, whose views on love are shaped mainly by dramatic sentimental novels. As a result, she believes that the pinnacle of romance is wrapped up in a life of poverty, and wants to forfeit her inheritance to be with a poor man. She falls in love with such a man when she meets Ensign Beverley, but little does she know that he is actually the equally noble Jack Absolute.
Sir Anthony Absolute
Jack's conservative, traditionalist father, Sir Anthony, is firm in his belief that he has the right to choose whom his son will marry. He is strict and authoritarian, and seems to care more about his influence than about the actual decisions he is making for his son. He has gout.
Lydia’s aunt who has a particularly quirky relationship to the English language, often misusing words. She is very protective of Lydia and, like Anthony, wants Lydia to do exactly as she desires. She is smitten with Lucius O'Trigger, who has no idea that it is Malaprop that he is corresponding with. She is perhaps the most comedic character in the play.
Bob Acres is a country squire who is also in love with Lydia. He is a bumpkin trying to become a more sophisticated city person, and his primary means of doing so is in affecting a new sense of fashion. When he learns that his rival, Ensign Beverley, is actually just an alter ego for Jack Absolute, he no longer wishes to duel, as Jack is his friend.
Sir Lucius O’Trigger
Lucius is an Irishman who believes he is corresponding with Lydia via letter, and is shocked to find that he is actually in touch with Lydia's aunt, Mrs. Malaprop. Before he learns this, he challenges Jack Absolute to a duel, and is determined to win out no matter what.
A friend of Jack's who is in love with Julia. While Julia returns his affections, Faulkland is exceedingly insecure, and believes that she doesn't actually love him. He is constantly worrying and testing her love, which tries her patience and only drives her away. However, by the end of the play, they are reunited, and he is more confident in Julia's love for him.
The scheming maid of Lydia who creates a great deal of the misunderstandings in the play. For instance, it is she who brings Lucius' letters to Malaprop instead of to Lydia.
Julia is a beautiful young woman who is in love with Faulkland, but must contend with his overwhelming insecurities.
The Rivals Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Rivals is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.