Mariana is a young lady of Vienna who was once betrothed to Angelo.
Her family’s wealth was lost when her brother drowned at sea, and as a result Angelo broke his promise to marry her. With her reputation damaged by his slandering her as an excuse, she retreated to an isolated priory. Though deeply depressed, she is still in love with Angelo five years after this happened. Willing to do anything to recapture his attention, she accepts to replace Isabella, thereby consummating her marriage without Angelo being aware of it. She plays her part before the Duke and is rewarded by being officially wed to Angelo, but must immediately plead for his life. She feels life to be rather cruel to her. Mariana is unaware that the consoling friar she often speaks to is in fact the disguised Duke.