Parolles is a loud-mouthed, dirty-minded braggart of a soldier, extremely overdressed, and able to convince the unwary that he is an extraordinary soldier, though he is in fact a great coward.
The inventiveness of his excuses and lies is so great that many of those who see through him cannot find it in them to cast him aside, regarding him almost as a freak of nature and enjoying his company all the more for knowing that all he says is lies. Even Helena likes him, and engages in a witty debate on the subject of virginity with him, though in other company he will slander her character. He laces his speech with Italian phrases. He is a companion of Bertram’s, and follows him to the court. He talks far too much there, irritating Lafew, who soon sees through him. With the two French Lords, he convinces Bertram to run away to the wars, and lies to Helena about her husband’s intents. With him in Florence, he attempts to help him seduce Diana, and suggests that Diana ought to give in, as Bertram is rather rich and could easily be parted from his money. He is fully aware of what he is, but plays his role all the same, which allows the French lords to push him to swear to recover the lost drum. Captured and blindfolded by those he supposes to be the enemy, he is terrified and spills all that they want to know upon barely being asked, and slandering all those he knows. Discovering the trick, he comes to the realization that he would be better off admitting to being a fool and making his living as one, rather than pretending to be anything else, and he seeks the charity of Lafew. He testifies to Bertram’s attempts to bed Diana. Lafew ends up taking him into his service as a jester of sorts.