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The Literary World

Shakespearean Characters

Figures from the comedies, histories, and tragedies of William Shakespeare.

  • Maria
    • Dallies with the likes of Toby Belch and Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night; traditionally her name is given the ''''muh-RI-uh'''' pronunciation
  • Diana
    • An adventuress in All''s Well That Ends Well; the goddess of the same name appears to the title character in Pericles
  • Adriana
    • Wife to Antipholus of Ephesus in The Comedy of Errors
  • Audrey
    • A country girl wooed by the clown Touchstone in As You Like It
  • Blanch of Castile
    • Niece to the title character in King John
  • Celia
    • Confidante and companion to the heroine Rosalind in As You Like It
  • Charmian
    • Attendant to the Egyptian queen in Antony and Cleopatra
  • Helena
    • The name of both the adventurous heroine of All''s Well That Ends Well and Demetrius''s determined lover in A Midsummer Night''s Dream
  • Hermia
    • One of the fiesty young lovers in A Midsummernight''s Dream
  • Hero
    • She successfully retrieves her lost reputation in Much Ado About Nothing
  • Julia
    • Disguised as a boy, she pursues her lover Proteus to Milan in The Two Gentlemen of Verona
  • Juliet
    • This is not only the name of the star-crossed heroine of Romeo and Juliet, but also that of a woman wronged by the cruel Claudio in Measure for Measure
  • Katharina
    • Title character of The Taming of the Shrew, who battles her suitor Petruchio tooth and nail, but ultimately finds peace in his arms
  • Katherine
    • Lady attending the princess of France in Love''s Labor''s Lost
  • Lucetta
    • Clever servant to Julia in The Two Gentlemen of Verona
  • Luciana
    • In The Comedy of Errors she is shocked by the amourous attentions of a man she believes is her brother-in-law, but in fact is his twin
  • Octavia (died -11)

    Sister of Octavius Caesar and wife of Mark Antony.

    • Portrayed as heart-broken at the civil war and her husband''s unfaithfulness in Antony and Cleopatra
  • Phoebe
    • Sheperdess torn between Ganymede and Silvius in As You Like It
  • Rosalind
    • Disguises herself as the male forester Ganymede to pursue her banished lover Orlando in As You Like It
  • Rosaline
    • Dallies with the love-sick Biron before consenting to marry him in Love''s Labor''s Lost
  • Silvia
    • There are many rivals for her hand in The Two Gentlemen of Verona
  • Titania
    • The tempestuous queen of the fairies in A Midsummer Night''s Dream
  • Ursula
    • A gentlewoman attending Hero in Much Ado About Nothing
  • Cleopatra VII (born -69, died -30)

    Queen of Egypt; lover of both Julius Caesar and Marc Antony.

    • Romantic heroine of Antony and Cleopatra
  • Joan of Arc (born 1412, died 1431)

    Religiously inspired peasant girl who rallied the French armies against English invaders. Burned at the stake; later canonized.

    • Portrayed as a witch and libertine in Henry VI, Pt. I
  • Dorcas
    • A jolly shepherdess in The Winter''s Tale
  • Imogen
    • Daughter of the title character in Cymbeline, who marries for love against her father''s will
  • Helen of Troy

    In ancient Greek legend, a semi-diety reputed to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Her abduction by Paris from her Greek husband Menelaus caused the Trojan War.

    • Portrayed as a pleasure-loving sensualist in Troilus and Cressida
  • Hermione
    • The falsely accused queen in The Winter''s Tale
  • Perdita
    • Princess who is abandoned and raised in ignorance of her birth in The Winter''s Tale
  • Paulina
    • Courageous noblewoman who obtains justice for the wronged queen Hermione in The Winter''s Tale
  • Miranda
    • Prospero''s daughter, who discovers a ''''brave new world'''' when an expedition reaches their lonely island in The Tempest
  • Gertrude
    • Shakespearean character from Hamlet
  • Ophelia
    • Comes to a tragically romantic end in Hamlet
  • Desdemona
    • The tragic wife of the jealous title character in Othello
  • Emilia
    • Wife of the treacherous Iago and faithful retainer of the doomed Desdemona in Othello
  • Regan
    • One of the traitorous daughters of the title character in King Lear
  • Cordelia
    • The truthful, faithful daughter of King Lear
  • Mariana
    • Conspires to recover Angelo''s affections in Measure for Measure
  • Francisca
    • A nun in Measure for Measure
  • Cassandra

    In Homer's Iliad, Trojan prophetess whose unerring predictions are never believed.

    • Princess of Troy in Troilus and Cressida
  • Helen
    • Servant to Imogen in Cymbeline
  • Cressida
    • The fickle, heart-breaking heroine of Troilus and Cressida
  • Lavinia
    • The daughter of the title character in Titus Andronicus
  • Tamora
    • The deadly queen of the Goths in Titus Andronicus
  • Virgilia
    • Wife to the title character of Coriolanus
  • Valeria
    • She pleads with the title character of Coriolanus to have pity on Rome
  • Portia
    • In Julius Caesar, this is the name of Brutus'' devoted wife; in The Merchant of Venice, a character with this name impersonates a lawyer to argue for her lover''s life
  • Nerissa
    • Waiting maid, confidante and co-conspirator of the heroine Portia in The Merchant of Venice
  • Jessica
    • Shylock''s daughter in The Merchant of Venice
  • Viola
    • Falls in love with Duke Orsino while disguised as his boy page in Twelfth Night
  • Isabella of Bavaria (born 1370, died 1435)

    Queen to Charles V of France.

    • Her daughter Katherine marries the title character in Henry V
  • Katharine of Valois (born 1401, died 1437)

    French princess who married Henry V of England.

    • Wooed by the title character in Henry V
  • Alice
    • Attendant to princess Catherine of France in Henry V
  • Anne
    • The hapless queen who is wronged and then wooed by the title character of Richard III
  • Beatrice
    • The clever, sarcastic comic heroine who matches wits with and finally falls for Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing
  • Bianca
    • Cassio''s paramour in Othello; also the name of the title character''s younger sister in The Taming of the Shrew, forbidden marry until her man-hating sister does
  • Constance
    • The passionate Dutchess of Brittany in King John
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine (born 1122, died 1204)

    Queen to Louis VII of France, then to Henry II of England. Mother of kings Richard and John of England.

    • Powerful, protective mother of the title character in King John
  • Elizabeth, Lady Grey (born 1437, died 1492)

    Queen to King Edward IV of England.

    • She impresses her husband with her virtue in Henry VI, Pt. III, then mourns him and their sons in Richard III
  • Isabella
    • The staunchly virtuous heroine of Measure for Measure
  • Margaret of Anjou (born 1430, died 1482)

    Queen to King Henry VI of England.

    • She is a conspiring murderess in Henry VI, Parts I, II and III, and returns to curse the entire House of York in Richard III
  • Gertrude
    • The guilt-ridden mother of the title character in Hamlet
  • Olivia
    • Noblewoman who is loved by Duke Orsino, but prefers his messenger Cesario, in Twelfth Night

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