Character List

This is an alphabetical  and integrated list of the names of all the characters which appear in the plays, and thus in the quotations we have used in the glossary. The different lists of characters (the Dramatis Personae) enable readers to find characters within an individual play; the list below enables readers to find the play in which an individual character appears. But it also enables the reader to track alternative names for people, such as Sir John Falstaff, Sir John, Jack, and Oldcastle, and alternative spellings such as Philario and Filario. Names in square brackets are there to help identification; we do not relate alternatives to particular editions of the texts.

The emphasis is very much on the way the names appear in the texts themselves, so that Claudius, for example, who is referred to as ‘the King’ and as  ‘Denmark’, is additionally listed as King of Denmark and Denmark, King of. We have focused our attention on characters as they actually appear in the plays (whether speaking or non-speaking, alive or dead), but we go beyond the conventional lists of Dramatis Personae, adding the names of people who are of importance to the plot but who do not actually appear, such as Fulvia in Antony and Cleopatra. We exclude the names of off-stage people who are mentioned only in passing (such as the bevy of servants mentioned by Dromio in The Comedy of Errors). We also exclude the various attendants and servants unless they have a speaking role.

Note that there will be some differences, for minor characters, between the names in this list and those shown in the Dramatis Personae for an individual play - for example, in the list below, First Soldier in Antony and Cleopatra is actually two people, distinguished in the Dramatis Personae as First Soldier for Antony and First Soldier for Brutus. In our Dramatis Personae lists, we usually give the names and descriptions exactly as they appear in the published editions of the plays we used; but in speaking parts such as First Soldier (and also with servants, messengers, and so on), we have given them individual descriptions. This is to enable anyone to distinguish the different speaking parts when they are searching the plays.

  Another difference with the Dramatis Personae is that we have made all names lower-case. In the published editions of the plays, names are typically shown in upper-case (if they are speaking parts) and in lower-case (if they are not). Editorial practice has not been totally consistent between plays, however, so that we sometimes find A BOY and sometimes A boy or A Boy. These differences are ignored in the list below.

We include the following features in the list:

  • A character’s function, where this is specifically recognized, along with their personal name, if this is known. Examples: Abbess, Soothsayer.
  • Names adopted while disguised. Examples: Ganymede, Friar Lodowick.
  • Titular designations, with cross-referencing where the title is used in the play. Example: Duke of Florence, under both D and F.
  • Private names of people with titles, when there is more than one of the same name, usually as given in the character list of a play. Example: the various Dukes of Buckingham.
  • Terms of endearment, pet names, and other designations - given either by the characters themselves or assigned to them by other people. Examples: Nell, Plantagenet.

We provide selective information about personal relationships, shown in round brackets, when this helps to avoid confusion between characters, as in the case of the various Prince Edwards. More extensive information about character relationships is given in the play’s ‘Circles’.