Orlando Furioso Cast of Characters: Doralice

Cantos XIV (Mandricardo), XXIII (Orlando), XXIV (Zerbino and Rodomonte), XXVI (Merlin’s Fountain), XXVII (Chooses Mandricardo), XXX (Death of Mandricardo)

Daughter of King Stordilane of Granada, Betrothed of Rodomonte, Lover of Mandricardo

Classical Type ?

TL;DR

Two-bit Helen Gives Heart Away Repeatedly, Disappears Unceremoniously

Summary

After the winter season, Doralice travels with a large, armed retinue to meet up with her father, King Stordilane, in Agramant’s war camp.  On the way her caravan is attacked by Mandricardo, who slaughters most of her attendants so that he might look upon her beauty.

When the blood-soaked champion arrives in her presence, she weeps in terror at the expectation of death or rape.  Mandricardo successfully convinces her that he loves her and her heart quickly awakens to love.  After wandering for some time, they find a pastoral cottage and spend the night together.

Setting out “refreshed” the next day, they come upon Orlando, Zerbino, and Isabel.  Doralice chases after Mandricardo when his unbridled horse runs off, then offers to loan him her bridle.  Gabrina enters the scene; after the two laugh at her courtesan’s attire Mandricardo steals her horse’s bridle and saddle.

Doralice rides along happily with Mandricardo as he searches for Orlando.  After a few days, they come upon his abandoned arms which Mandricardo gladly takes over Zerbino’s objections.  The two fall to blows, watched by their respective lovers.

With Zerbino clearly losing, Isabel begs Doralice to stop the fight.  She agrees and Mandricardo puts up his sword, but it is too late for Zerbino.  He bleeds out after Doralice departs with her champion.

Rodomonte comes upon the two lovers and attempts to enforce his claim over Doralice. The princess stops this duel as well, appealing to the two knights to accompany her back to Agramant’s war camp so they can help rout the resurgent Christian army.

Along the way the trio comes upon Marphisa and company feasting at Merlin’s Fountain.  Rogero soon joins them and a massive conflict breaks out as all the knights attempt to enforce their various claims against each other.  For the third time Doralice interrupts the fighting, this time when a spirit summoned by Malagigi possesses her horse and carries her off to Agramant’s camp.  All the bickering knights give chase.

In order to begin settling all the disputes among his knights, Agramant puts the decision in Doralice’s hands: Rodomonte or Mandricardo?  When she chooses Mandricardo to the amazement of all gathered, the lord of Argier immediately quits Agramant’s service in humiliation.

The night before Mandricardo is to fight Rogero, Doralice begs him to forgo the battle out of love for her.  The fourth time, it turns out, is no charm.  Mandricardo is on the verge of agreement when dawn comes and Rogero summons him out to battle.  Unable to decline the challenge once given, Mandricardo rides forth to battle and is slain.

Almost immediately after his death, Doralice falls in love with the recuperating Rogero.  She is never mentioned in the poem again (!).

Judgment

If Zerbino is the ridiculous male character, Doralice is surely his opposite number on the ladies’ side.  The way she falls in love with Mandricardo is absurd, and all the sillier that she instantly transfers her affections to the man who kills him just a few weeks later.  Ladies, don’t do that!  Men, stop believing women work that way!  The satire is strong with this one.

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