Commedia Del'Arte - Character Analysis and Traits of Pantalone, Il'Capitano and Il Dottore.

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Pantalone is of top pecking order. He is wealthy and controls the finance in the character world of commedia, therefore his orders are usually obeyed by all. He is the father of Isabella.

He wears dark colours of black, grey and red; dynamic Pantaloons, tight-fitting long red trousers or red breeches and stockings, a short tight-fitting jacket, a loose long black cloak with plain sleeves, red-woollen skull-cap and yellow turkish slippers.

He is lean and scrawny and often short in stature. He wears a mask with a long, hooked nose with bushy eyebrows, sometimes also a moustache. Pointed beard just forward as if to meet the nose coming down, thus giving a very dynamic profile.

His signature props are a gold chain hung around his neck with a large medallion as well as a dagger and a money pouch. He also carried a ubiquitous handkerchief and used a walking cane.

His back bends giving him a hunched old man's stoop, which protected his purse and effectively restricted the motion of his legs. His feet are together, toes apart, knees well bent and facing apart creating a focus on his crutch. His legs are also much more muscled with the possibility of sustaining extreme forward positions of the torso or making large strides.

Bullying, aggressively and mean-minded, Pantalone, a pauper who had squandered his dignity along with his cash. He's always on the prowl and he could be termed a Beelzebub of sex. Any woman who happens to cross his path becomes at once an object of winks, leers and nudges... he parades up and down in a series of showily self-important struts, trips, trots and sudden halts.

His walk is small and slow and he can only walk at one pace; whatever his feet do his legs cannot go any faster, whatever the motive or stimulus. He's old in body, but his head, feet and hands are still active. The hands (which he can't keep to himself) flutter continuously, gesticulating each thought as it comes into his head. The only way he can stop this is to hold them behind his back, underneath his cloak.

His voice is similar to a high pitched squawk that continuously breaks. It's cold and prudish and demanding. Pantalone gives voice to the darker side of the male consciousness, a secret hero to the unenlightened males in the audience.

He is mean to his servants, narrow-mindedly proscriptive to his children, fawning to Il' Dottore, scheming with Il' Capitano, lecherous with Colombina and indulgent to himself. He is too self-interested to be aware of spectators, therefore takes no notice of them.

Pantalone operates on the assumption that everything can be bought and sold, and this turns out to be true, with the exception of loyalty (and love). But he also loves money for its own sake and will therefore only part with it when there is no other option. He always wants to marry his daughter to a wealthy man - and avoid giving her a dowry. When things do not go his way he quickly slips into emotional extremes, particularly enraged petty tyranny. He has a long memory and never forgets or forgives the slightest past transgression. Pantalone is action, not words.


Il'Capitano is a loner. He is never indigenous to the town where the scenario is set and is able to pretend to high status as a result. His downfall to the level of actual social standing is an essential part of the denouement. Being a 'Capitan' he wore a feathered helmet or hat, huge boots and exaggerated garters. His clothes were sometimes diagonally striped or slashed, but whatever the style, close scrutiny reveals the truth: Magnificent in words, but his purse is always empty and under his beautifully richly damascened cuirass he wears but a frayed and tattered leather jerkin. Il Capitano himself, however, always claims that his tattered undergarments are caused by the amazing virility of his body hair bursting through whenever he gets angry.

Il Capitano appears large, whether physically or egotistically, he is a large...
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