Yes, I know seeing Lavinia in the last post might make your stomach churn. Yes, I know Titus Andronicus was written when Shakespeare was going through a Quentin Tarantino phase. But come on, a lot of his plays are pretty gory. After all, almost everyone dies in Macbeth, Hamlet, and King Lear. Also, most of his history plays contain a war of some sort being fought. So expect a body count of some sort. However, a battle scene isn’t going to look as gruesome on stage as it is in screen. After all, stage productions tend to have limited resources, Shakespeare included. So he probably wouldn’t have been able to do a reenactment of the Battle of Agincourt the way Kenneth Branaugh would. Anyway, in this selection, I bring you more Shakespearean figures like Helen and Bertram from All’s Well That Ends Well, Touchstone from As You Like It, Sir Toby Belch from Twelfth Night, Hermione from The Winter’s Tale, Horatio from Hamlet, Mariana from Measure for Measure, Richard of York, Duke of Gloucester, Octavius Caesar, Bassanio from The Merchant of Venice, Roderigo and Cassio from Othello, and Troilus and Cressida.
From: All’s Well That Ends Well
Pro: Almost everyone thinks she’s a great girl who’s smart, beautiful, and more than worthy of some decent guy’s love. Is able to hold her own by talking dirty back to an aggressive guy and doesn’t back down from a fight. Scores a husband in Bertram by curing the French king of his illness.
Con: She’s in love with Bertram who treats her like garbage and doesn’t love her back. So she stalks him and tricks him into staying with her by getting pregnant. She might come off as a social climber since the king gives her a new title and a bunch of money after she and Bertram get married. And she’s still willing to stay with him even when he deserts and cheats on her.
Fate: Married to Bertram and pregnant with his baby. However, whether all’s well that ends well is the question.
From: The Winter’s Tale
Pro: She’s a lovely wife and doting mother who’s unfairly accused of cheating on her husband, thrown in prison, and stands trial for treason. While standing on trial, she remains eloquent and poised as she calmly denies any wrongdoing. Her son’s death breaks her heart.
Con: However, possibly faking her death for 16 years is a great way to punish her husband for his cheating accusations.
Fate: Supposedly comes back to like from a statue and is reunited with her daughter and husband. However, her son Mammilius is still dead.
Pro: He’s the voice of reason in this play and he’s basically hanging out just to give his friend Hamlet much needed emotional support. Is the only one in Hamlet’s life who he can really trust because he doesn’t have any reason to betray him in some fashion. Is the only person Hamlet is consistently nice to. He’s smart and is very good with keeping secrets. Also has his head screwed on just right and is not part of the action.
Con: For one, he mostly doesn’t do anything. Second, due to all the crap that happened in this play, there’s a chance he might suffer from PTSD. Third, has to deal with the dead bodies in the end.
Fate: Survives the play so he lives to tell the tale. Not that it helps him.
From: As You Like It
Pro: He’s brilliant with a quick wit as well as insightful about human nature. Accompanies Celia and Rosalind in the Forest of Arden after Rosalind’s exile just to comfort them. Can say wise things in an amusing way without sounding like a drone. Laughs at himself as easily as he laughs at others.
Con: Can drive listeners to frustration if they’re not as sharp as he is. Loves to twist any argument and nitpick over any little thing. Falls for a dull witted woman named Audrey and threatens to kill a romantic rival in 150 ways.
Fate: Marries Audrey in a wedding ceremony with Orlando and Rosalind, Oliver and Celia, and Silvanus and Phebe. However, judging that he and Audrey don’t have a lot in common, it seems the relationship isn’t going to last.
95. Octavius Caesar
From: Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra
Pro: Maybe young but is no pushover. Helps Antony defeat conspirators against his adoptive father. Later manages to defeat Antony and Cleopatra in battle and becomes emperor as well as one of the greatest Roman rulers ever. So he’s pretty pragmatic, determined, and smart. Extremely fond of his sister that he’s absolutely pissed when Antony abandons her. Is as menacingly an adversary as well as convincingly human.
Con: Unfortunately, once the conspirators are out of the way, “the let’s rule Rome together” thing doesn’t quite work out and he later turns on Antony. Is absolutely ruthless in getting what he wants. Disapproves of everything Antony stands for and thinks he’s squandering his duties during his time in Egypt. Is rigid and puritanical as well as a massive control freak. Also, he tends to use his sister as a pawn and doesn’t really consider that Antony may have an Egyptian squeeze. Not above trickery and willing to lie to get Cleopatra under his control. Has Lepidus done away with on spurious grounds and doesn’t seem overly concerned with keeping his word if it gets in his way. Orders those who’ve deserted Antony to fight on the front lines.
Fate: Becomes the first Roman Emperor. However, he doesn’t relish in Antony’s death and mourns the loss of a great soldier as well as buries him with Cleopatra.
96. Richard of York
From: Henry VI Parts 1, 2, and 3
Pro: Loves his kids and is devastated by the death of Edmund of Rutland. Not afraid to fight and is no person to mess with. He’s calculating, smart, and strong. Would probably make a better king than Henry VI if he ever made it that far.
Con: His claim to the throne once he becomes Duke of York kicks off the Wars of the Roses. Hires a guy named Jack Cade to do his dirty work for him while he’s away in Ireland under the king’s command but he went back with that army. May not always be sincere so it’s probably not best to make a deal with him. Because he’ll probably break it.
Fate: Is stabbed by Queen Margaret of Anjou who taunts him with the death of his son.
97. Duke of Gloucester
From: Henry VI Parts 1 and 2
Pro: Is a kindhearted guy to his nephew Henry VI and genuinely loves him like a son. So he’ll only give up his Protector title when Henry wants him to. Is totally not abusing his power and doesn’t want more. Stands up for himself when he’s wrongly accused of treason and strongly believes in justice.
Con: Denounces his wife after she breaks a law and goes on a walk of shame. He also likes his power as Protector but becomes a very vulnerable assassination target. Also his advice to Henry against marrying Margaret eventually got him killed.
Fate: Assassinated in a plot involving Queen Margaret, Duke of Suffolk, Duke of Somerset, and Cardinal Beaufort.
From: Measure for Measure
Pro: Well, her willingness to sleep with Angelo in a bed trick gives Isabella one less thing to worry about. You also can’t blame her for wanting to get back at her ex for dumping her after her dowry was lost when her brother’s ship sank.
Con: Isolating yourself by living in a farmhouse surrounded by a moat is no way to handle a traumatic breakup. Also, by sleeping with Angelo, she runs the risk of having to marry the guy who dumped her for being broke. Then again, she might be aware of it and is willing to deal with the consequences. But even so, you’d have to wonder why she’d take him back after what he did to her.
Fate: Marries Angelo. Hope she’s happy with her decision. Then again, to her this is more like sweet revenge.
From: All’s Well That Ends Well
Pro: He’s rich, handsome, has lots of friends, and is a great soldier. Honest with not loving Helen and doesn’t think he should marry her because she did the King of France a favor.
Con: In short, he’s an absolute jerk. Now it’s one thing that he doesn’t like Helen as well as loathes being forced to marry her. However, this guy’s a rotten human being who’s mostly unwilling to marry Helen because of her social class more than anything (though she was also raised by his parents). After their wedding, he tricks her into going back to the Countess so he can run away to Italy where he acts like a total player and tries to seduce a girl named Diana. And he lies about it later to the king of France.
Fate: Married to Helen but it’s not exactly all’s well that ends well to him.
From: The Merchant of Venice
Pro: Well, he has to be nice, smart, and good looking enough to win Portia’s hand and her heart. Loves Portia enough to be married to her (even though she may not be his top priority in his life).
Con: He’s an idiot and what 90’s R&B group TLC would call a classic, “scrub.” Has a lavish lifestyle but is really bad with money that he usually borrows from whomever he could instead of getting a job (luckily he lives at a time of institutionalized gold digging). And it’s clear that he’s been sponging off from his rich friends with Antonio included. But when Antonio can’t give him anything, he goes to Shylock. His plan for getting out of debt involves borrowing even more money so he could hook up with Portia whom he hopes will pay off all his loans and support his lavish lifestyle. So he takes a personal loan from Shylock and puts up a pound of Antonio’s flesh as collateral which is a really bad idea. Of course, he doesn’t take into account that Antonio’s ship going down in a storm that puts him in serious financial trouble, which is what happens and Shylock has Antonio arrested and brought before court. He may love Portia, but he’s more bent on marrying her for her vast disposable assets than anything else since he initially speaks of her as if she’s a cash cow. And even after they get married, he interrupts their honeymoon so he could help out his friend Antonio and gives up her ring.
Fate: Marries Portia in a double wedding ceremony with Gratanio and Nerissa. In Portia he gets everything he wants.
101. Sir Toby Belch
From: Twelfth Night
Pro: Well, he likes to have a good time and knows how important it is, too. He’s also a force of vitality, noise, and good cheer. Whatever his faults, he’s certainly no snob as shown by his love and appreciation for Maria. And he doesn’t care what people think about him. Not to mention, he and Maria seem to be a better model for a relationship than other Shakespearean couples since they’ve known each other for a long time and share a similar sense of humor.
Con: He’s basically Olivia’s uncle who’s an endless source of embarrassment, especially when he goes on a night out drinking. This to the point that Olivia has Feste watching him. He’s also not above to live off someone else’s money whether it be his niece’s or Sir Andrew’s. Oh, and he likes to torment Malvolio for kicks and the fact he wants Olivia to cut him off. But at least he wants to let Malvolio go and move on. But he also tends to egg on Sir Andrew to woo his niece despite that she’s obviously not interested in him.
Fate: Marries his niece’s Olivia’s handmaid Maria. However, the two might be cast out soon for what they did to Malvolio.
From: Troilus and Cressida
Pro: Is very much in love with Cressida that he declares his undying love for her. Is completely crushed when she hooks up with another guy.
Con: He’s fatally self-absorbed from the start. Obsesses over his own feelings that he forgets to pay attention to Cressida’s personality. Also totally obsessed with her body and talks about how he wants to have sex with her.
Fate: Well, he and Cressida don’t really get back together.
From: Troilus and Cressida
Pro: Well, she’s pretty. Also, she might’ve been sincere when she promised to love Troilus forever and remain faithful because she doesn’t seem treated to have a will or desires of her own.
Con: She’s one of the most unreliable characters in literary history. Though she falls in love with Troilus and promises to love him forever, she has a reputation for being a serious flirt who’s very good at mind games. But says she plays hard to get with Troilus because she’s afraid he won’t prize her as much once he sleeps with her. Uses her beauty and sexuality to get what she wants but whether it’s either because she enjoys the attention or feels like she has no choice is hard to say. May be kind of a promiscuous woman because she can’t help herself.
Fate: Well, she and Troilus don’t really get back together.
Pro: He’s rich.
Con: Lusts after Desdemona and thinks he could win her back if he follows her and her new husband to Cyprus and gives her enough presents. Is a complete idiot who Iago plays as a complete pawn by using him as a walking ATM and inciting a brawl with Cassio. Gives jewelry to Iago that he thinks is going to Desdemona but in reality, Iago is selling the stuff for a profit. Iago also persuades him to kill Cassio, too.
Fate: Stabbed by Iago and left for dead.
105. Michael Cassio
Pro: He’s loyal to Othello and gets promoted for his high manners and theoretical learning. Also, he’s perhaps one of the most decent male characters in the cast.
Con: He’s very immature. Has no practical knowledge of battle. Has a Madonna-Whore Complex as well as treats his prostitute girlfriend Bianca like shit. His flirting with Emilia and Desdemona also doesn’t help matters. Gets tricked by Iago into getting drunk and into a brawl with Roderigo which gets him in trouble and costs him his job.
Fate: Gets to bring Iago to justice but since he got stabbed by Roderigo in the leg, he might be permanently crippled.