Commedia Del'Arte. Character Analysis and Traits of Columbina, Isabella, Arlecchino and Lelio.

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Columbina is the perky maid of the 'Old Man', Pantalone. She is better dressed than the male servants as she is also a lady's maid. She usually wears a knee length dress and an apron. The colouring of her clothes can be different in different acts, depending on her relationships with the characters and the scenario. She can be in a similar scheme to Arlecchino (where she is sometimes known as Arlecchina with similar diamonds and triangles), or if she is assigned to a rival family of Arlecchino's, she can be in that scheme. In cases where she is an independent character, she can be in blacks and whites in the spirit of a French Maid.

Columbina does not usually wear a mask but sometimes wears one covering only her eyes. Her signature props are a tambourine and a basket. Her physical appearance is attractive, perky and petite with a tiny waist, wide hips and lots of cleavage.

She walks as if she is skipping on air with a little flick of the foot at the end of each step. All her posses are usually seductive and accentuate her cleavage. Her movement continues during speaking, shifting balance from one foot to the other and moving her head sharply as if searching for someone other than the person being addressed. She's fast and nimble in order to escape unwanted attentions or to butt in, and can escape from a situation. She is happy and carefree, yet when assigned a task moves with speed and efficiency. This is one of her strongest traits in being a good servant. Her speech is sharp and gossipy with frequent variations of pitch.

She Loves Arlecchino, but sees through him. She therefore scolds him, punishes him, deserts him, takes him back, but in the end he does not change and she has to accept him for what he is, which is still more lovable than Il Dottore, Pantalone and Il Capitano. She can be very affectionate to other characters as well, and her affections seem to flow through her physically, but she always holds something back. As a result she is pestered by other men, especially Il Capitano and Pantalone. She is always ready to help the Lovers, perhaps through natural sympathy with their plight.

She is a spectator herself. She has a very strong relationship with the audience, almost confidential in the sense that she too can see what fools the rest of them are. She also often flirts with the spectators.

She appears almost if not before her name is called, always being on step ahead of her master and finishes sentences for her master too, which she sometimes uses in her favour. When a situation gets out of control, she becomes the dominant voice to put everyone and everything back in its place. She even beats the male characters in strength and intelligence, sometimes even her master.


Isabella is the daughter of Pantalone, the old man. Because of her fathers status she had the newest fashion, and usually showed off her wardrobe, wigs and shoes often. She wore stunning silk dresses, often in antique Renaissance style with necklaces of gold and pearls.

She is young and attractive and modest but at times can be selfish. Isabella did not usually wear a mask but did sometimes wear a small mask that covered only her eyes.

Her signature props are a handkerchief, book and a fan. She has a lack of firm contact with the earth. Her chest and heart appear heavy. They are full of breath, but then take little pants on top. Her posture is correct and tall and is always very proud. Her walk is small as her steps are little.

Isabella's posses are of an innocent and happy nature; leaning to one side with one leg pointed outwards, and hands in praying position touching cheek as if sleeping. Another is the back of her hand on her forehead, tilted back as if in agony as well as her chin resting on hands laying on top of each other or fingers interlocked and the head slightly tilted.

Her movements are exaggerated, especially her hands and arms, which are like feathers flapping in the wind....
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