The king of Navarre (a region of Spain). Ferdinand aspires to glory through intense study. He writes an oath (and gets all the men of his court to agree to it), which forbids spending any… (read full character analysis)
Probably the most clever of Ferdinand’s men, Berowne is reluctant to agree to the king’s oath from the start. However, he signs the oath when he sees how easy it is to weasel out of… (read full character analysis)
One of Ferdinand’s three main attendants. He eagerly agrees to Ferdinand’s oath at the start of the play, but before long falls in love with Maria and attempts to woo her as Ferdinand, Berowne… (read full character analysis)
Another of Ferdinand’s attendant lords. Like Longaville, he is quick to agree to the oath at the beginning of the play, but then falls in love with Katherine and attempts to woo her for… (read full character analysis)
One of the princess’ ladies who comes with her on the visit to Ferdinand. She is able to hold her own in witty back-and-forths with Berowne, who falls in love with her. At… (read full character analysis)
The only male who comes with the princess to Navarre. Boyet helps move along the plot and alerts the princess and her ladies to the imminent arrival of Ferdinand and his men disguised as Russians… (read full character analysis)
A Spaniard at Ferdinand’s court, Armado entertains the king and his attendants with song and music. He is extravagant in his speech, speaking and writing in overly ornate language and often inventing his own words… (read full character analysis)
Armado’s young page, Mote (spelled “Moth” in some editions) is surprisingly intelligent given his young age and relatively low social status. He is able to outwit and poke fun at his superiors, including Armado, Holofernes… (read full character analysis)
Jacquenetta is seen with Costard as the play begins, leading to Costard’s punishment for violating the no-women oath of Ferdinand’s court. However, it is Armado who falls in love with her, and courts her. Armado… (read full character analysis)
A pedant, or schoolteacher. He mixes in a good deal of Latin phrases into his everyday conversation, and is rather arrogant in his ostentatious learning. He exemplifies traditional education and book-learning, and though he considers… (read full character analysis)
One of the princess’ three attendants. Longaville falls in love with Maria, but—like the rest of the French women—Maria resists the advances of her suitor and teases him.
The third of the princess’ attendants, who comes with her to visit Ferdinand. She is witty and holds out against the advances of Dumaine, telling him to wait a year, like Ferdinand, before pursuing her.
A “clown,” who is spotted with Jacquenetta in the beginning of the play, in violation of Ferdinand’s oath. Armado and Berowne both give him love letters to deliver to their respective beloveds (Jacquenetta and Rosaline), and Costard foolishly mixes up the letters, delivering the wrong one to each.
A constable whose name accurately reflects his mental capacities. As a contrast to the sharp wit of most of the play’s characters, he offers a good number of opportunities for laughs in the comedy.
A curate (member of the clergy) who spends most of his time in the play with the schoolteacher Holofernes. He likes to think of himself as smart and well-educated, and so fawns sycophantically over Holofernes.
A minor character who goes hunting with the princess and her attendants in act four.