Pantalone, or Pantalon de' Bisognosi (full name including family name), Italian for 'Pantalone of the Needy', is one of the most important principal characters found in commedia dell'arte. With his exceptional greed and status at the top of the social order, Pantalone is "money" in the commedia world.
The character of Pantalone is entirely based on money and ego, for he has the highest regards for his intelligence, "but at every step he becomes the butt for every conceivable kind of trick". With little else to occupy his thoughts after a life as a tradesman or merchant, Pantalone is the metaphorical representation of money in the commedia world. Pantalone is usually the father to one of the lovers, another stock character found in commedia. He is driven to keep his child and their respective lover apart. Pantalone is presented either as a widower or bachelor, and despite his age, makes numerous passes at the women within the commedia world, "though he is always rejected". Pantalone never forgets a deal and his merit is based on actions, not words.
With his sinister and often inhumane treatment towards his fellows, Pantalone is perceived to be a pivotal part of commedia. His importance is represented in almost every commedia production; often placing him at the beginning of the comedy. In a commedia comedy, many zanni or lazzi routines will begin by an action delivered by Pantalone himself.
The traditional Pantalone stance is that of a hunch-backed old man. While it would generally be assumed the hunch-backed position may be one of an elderly old man, it is really for the protection of his money bag that generates his apparent frailty. He walks with his hips forward, allowing him to make larger strides when he walks. He often falls backwards, generally to bad news related in some way or another to his financials. When this occurs, he is often amusingly "turtle-like" and is often stuck in that position until assisted. None of Pantalone's physical actions should look easy, for his is truly "the oldest of the old".
- Duchartre, Pierreransla Angela Carter's 'The Bloody Chamber' (specific short story, Puss in Boots) for another representation of Pantalone. pretation renames him as the character 'Pantaloon', but he follows a very similar description and ends up dead.