A Spanish nobleman, Don Andrea has been recently killed in battle by the Portuguese prince Balthazar. His Ghost has now returned from the underworld to witness his former lover Bellimperia kill Balthazar.
Sent by the Queen of Hades, Proserpine, Revenge leads the Ghost of Andrea back from the underworld to witness (and create) havoc on earth.
King of Spain
Brother to the Duke of Castile. The King desires a marriage between Balthazar and Bellimperia, the Duke's daughter. He plays a relatively passive role in the play, serving as a good and just monarch-albeit one sometimes lacking in acumen.
Cyprian Duke of Castile
Father to Lorenzo and Bellimperia. Like the King, he is a just man within the constraints of a highly patriarchal society (he will force Bellimperia into a politically desirable marriage). His character contrasts with that of Lorenzo.
The Duke's son. Lorenzo is a man with somewhat mysterious motives, but his duplicitous character reveals itself throughout the play. He manipulates Balthazar and Pedringano in order to orchestrate the death of Horatio. While he clearly finds pleasure in controlling others, his actions are end-based rather than purely driven by villainous desires.
Lorenzo's sister and Andrea's former lover. She finds "second love" in Horatio, if only partly to spite Balthazar. She eventually stabs Balthazar as a character in Hieronimo's play and commits suicide. Heironimo claims that the suicide is out of love for Andrea, but this point remains a matter of dispute. Her actions in the second half of the play are motivated by the desire to exact revenge.
Viceroy of Portugal
A loving father to Balthazar, the Viceroy is given to rash judgments. He first unjustly condemns Alexandro, then justly - but harshly - dooms Villuppo. As for the marriage between Balthazar and Bellimperia, he gives his wholehearted consent. Having discovered his son to be alive after all, he hopes to relinquish his crown and retire to a solitary life of thanking the heavens in prayer.
The Viceroy's son arrives in Spain as a captive. He is taken by Bellimperia's beauty, which leads him to state that he is in love. With Lorenzo, he roams about freely and contributes to the murder of Horatio. But unlike Lorenzo, Balthazar is a sympathetic - if - naive character.
The Marshall of Spain, Hieronimo is the highest official to pronounce judgments. The law does not grant justice for his son's murder, however, so he takes the matter into his own hands. It is Hieronimo who stages the play-within-a-play and is ultimately responsible for the deaths of Lorenzo, Balthazar, and the Duke, and arguably Bellimperia. A character given to fits of madness, he is somewhat of a mystery-much like Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Hieronimo's wife. Like her husband, Isabella shows signs of madness and eventually commits suicide under deranged conditions (triggered by the murder of Horatio).
Son of Hieronimo and Isabella, Horatio returns from the battle with Portugal as captor of Balthazar. Between him and Lorenzo, however, the true captor of Balthazar remains unclear. He was friends with Andrea and becomes Bellimperia's second love. Horatio is murdered under Bellimperia's eyes when the same lady's servant betrays their secret rendezvous to Lorenzo.
The General gives a glorious but grim account of the recent battle to the King and receives a royal chain for his accomplishments. His account of the battle, however, contradicts the later statements of Lorenzo and Horatio-a crucial point in the play's development.
An old man who appears along with three citizens to petition Hieronimo for justice. Like, Hieronimo, his son has been murdered.
The Ambassador serves as a crucial link between Portugal and Spain. He brings the Viceroy the blissful news of Balthazar's survival. It is also he who brings confirmation of the Balthazar-Bellimperia marriage back to Spain.
A loyal Portuguese nobleman who is unjustly imprisoned through Villuppo's treachery.
A Portuguese nobleman who betrays Alexandro out of desire for reward.
Bellimperia's servant. Blinded by the desire for gold, Pedringano betrays Bellimperia and Horatio. He also murders Balthazar's servant Serberine at Lorenzo's command. The latter plots successfully to have Pedringano sent to the gallows, where the servant finds himself helpless, without the promised royal pardon.
An incidental character, the page nonetheless serves to show that Lorenzo sends Pedringano an empty box instead of the promised royal pardon.
Don Pedro, the Viceroy's brother; Deputy; Three Citizens; Two Portuguese; Christophil, Bellimperia's custodian; Serberine, Balthazar's servant; Isabella's Maid; Messenger; Hangman; Characters in the two dumb shows; and Company
Bazardo, a Painter; Pedro and Jacques, Hieronimo's servants
Characters that appear in the anonymous additions to the 1602 edition of the play.
The Spanish Tragedy Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Spanish Tragedy is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
The Ghost and Revenge act as the Greek-style Chorus to the tragedy. The Ghost acts as a metaphysical measure of good and evil. It is part of the afterlife that is removed from reality yet still plays a role in the unfolding of the future.