A comedy, the play opens with Beatrice, who has travelled to Venice disguised as her dead brother in search of the man who killed him: her lover, Florindo. Beatrice disguises herself so that she can collect dowry money from Pantalone, the father of Clarice, her brother's betrothed. She wants to use this money to help her lover escape, and to allow them to finally wed.
Beatrice's servant Truffaldino, is the central figure of this play. When the opportunity presents itself to be servant to another master (Florindo) he sees the opportunity for an extra dinner and tries to serve both masters without being discovered.