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Tales from Shakespeare Characters & Character Analysis

This Study Guide consists of approximately 60 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Tales from Shakespeare.
This section contains 2,758 words
(approx. 10 pages at 300 words per page)
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Tales from Shakespeare Summary & Study Guide Description

Tales from Shakespeare Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Tales from Shakespeare by Charles Lamb.

Characters

King Lear appears in King Lear

King Lear is an aged British king who decides to make his will. He had three daughters, Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. Goneril and Regan are hateful, ungrateful, treacherous and greedy. They feign great love for their old father and shower him with flattery and vows of loyalty. He is taken in by them and gives each of them and their husbands a third of his kingdom. Cordelia, the youngest and his treasure, is sickened by her sisters' flattery, greed and dishonesty and thus is very sparse and plain in her statement to her father, saying that she loves him according to her duty as his child. If her sisters hadn't been so crafty and flattering, she would have been even more extravagant than they in her show of love for her father. King Lear is shocked that his favorite daughter, Cordelia, should not profess her love for him the way her sisters had done and foolishly bequeaths her portion of the kingdom to be divided between the other two sisters and their husbands. His old age has beclouded his reason.

King Lear is then mistreated horribly by Goneril and Regan, who now show their true colors. Cordelia goes off to marry the king of France. King Lear makes another mistake in judgment. He banishes his one true friend in the kingdom, the good earl of Kent. This loyal friend disguises himself and continues to serve Lear in disguise as Caius. The court jester also remains loyal to the king but jests about the king's faulty judgment.

King Lear is a truly tragic figure. He wanders the heath of Britain in winter and through a horrible story and takes refuge in the wretched hovel of a Bedlam beggar. He is now not only somewhat senile, he has been driven mad by his elder daughters' cruel treatment. He escapes from his guardian the earl of Kent and wanders around the heath totally mad, singing songs with a wreath of straw, nettles and weeds on his head.

He is found, and with the help of physicians, becomes well enough to be reunited with Cordelia, who has come from France to save him and restore his kingdom. This is a tragic meeting too, for Lear is still half-crazy, not at first being sure it really is Cordelia and then begging her forgiveness. He dies before he even realizes the his faithful friend, the earl of Kent, has stayed with him though all his trials.

Prospero appears in The Tempest

Prospero, the main character in the tale "The Tempest," exhibits many noble character traits. He is betrayed by his younger brother, Antonio, and the king of Naples, put in a small boat without any provisions and left to perish far out at sea. Prospero has always been interested in magic and, fortunately, a loyal friend of his secretly puts provisions for him and his small daughter in the boat and also his books on magic. The boat lands on an enchanted island. It was enchanted by a witch, Sycorax. Spirits were entrapped in trees by the witch. The witch dies shortly before Prospero and his daughter, Miranda, are cast upon the island. With the help of his books on magic, Prospero frees the spirits and employs one of them, Ariel, as his chief servant. Prospero is even kind to the ugly, ape-like Caliban, son of the witch whom he finds on the island. He teaches him to speak.

Prospero and his young daughter live in a large cave on the island. He dotes on his beautiful, virtuous daughter and she on him. One day, he finds that a ship carrying his own mortal enemies in sailing near the island. He has his spirits conjure up a tempest so that they are cast upon the island but do not die. Prospero could have arranged it so they would have died, but he shows compassion and later forgives them totally for what they did to him. His good and noble nature so impresses them that they become remorseful and repent of their evil deeds. They are all reconciled and Prospero even approves of the marriage of his beloved Miranda to Ferdinand, the son of the King of Naples, his old enemy. His spirit servant, Ariel, longs for freedom and Prospero releases him from his service. Prospero also shows good sense when he decides to bury his magic books and wand, now that all are happy.

Hamlet appears in Hamlet

Hamlet is the main character in the tale "Hamlet." He is the prince of Denmark whose father, the king, was murdered by the king's brother, who then married Hamlet's mother, Gertrude, two months later. Hamlet's father returns as a ghost and orders Hamlet to revenge his murder. Hamlet is a noble character who falls into a deep melancholy. He is ashamed of his mother for her disloyalty to his father and for marrying his evil uncle, Claudius. The tale unfolds and more and more tragic events take place. Hamlet kills his sweetheart Ophelia's father by mistake while he is standing behind a curtain listening to the conversation between Hamlet and his mother. Hamlet thinks it is Claudius behind the curtain. Ophelia, Hamlet's love, commits suicide during Hamlet's banishment from Denmark. Finally, Hamlet dies in a duel with Ophelia's brother, Laertes.

Oberonappears in A Midsummer Night's Dream

Oberon is the king of the fairies in "A Midsummer Night's Dream. He is angry with his queen, Titania, over a changeling boy whom Titania wants for her own and Oberon also wants. Oberon uses the juice of magic flowers in his enchanted forest to make Titania and others fall in love with the first creature they set eyes on upon waking. Oberon and Titania are finally reconciled at the end of the tale.

Beatriceappears in Much Ado About Nothing

Beatrice is one of the heroines in the tale "Much Ado About Nothing". She is known for her quick wit and love of sparring intellectually with others, especially Benedick. Through trickery, Beatrice is made to fall in love with Benedick and he with her, and even at the end of the tale when they discover they've been duped, they remain in love with one another.

Rosalindappears in As You Like It

Rosalind is the daughter of a French duke who is unjustly banished to live in a forest in Arden by his jealous younger brother. Rosalind is kept at court to be the companion to the younger brother's daughter, Celia. Rosalind falls in love with a young wrestler, Orlando, who turns out to be the son of an old friend of her father's. When Frederick, the duke's brother and Celia's father, finds out that Orlando is the son of a friend of his banished brother, he becomes enraged and banishes Rosalind too. Celia goes with her into the Arden wood, Rosalind is disguised as a shepherd boy and Celia as his sister. They name Rosalind takes in her disguise is Ganymede. She becomes a friend to her sweetheart, Orlando, while still disguise, and later when her identity is revealed, they are united.

Valentineappears in The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Valentine is Proteus's best friend. They live in Verona. Proteus is in love with Julia, but Valentine scorns love and travels to Milan to the court of the duke of Milan. There, he too succumbs to love when he falls in love with Silvia, the duke's daughter. Proteus joins him in Milan and he too falls in love with Silvia. He tries through trickery to get Silvia away from Valentine. The scheme is disclosed, but Valentine forgives the penitent Proteus.

Shylockappears in The Merchant of Venice

Shylock is a Jewish userer who hates Antonio, a generous Christian merchant. When Antonio is forced to ask Shylock to lend him money to give his friend Bassanio, Shylock devises a shocking scheme where Antonio is persuaded to sign a contract promising a pound of his flesh should he not repay the loan within the time period set by Shylock. Portia, the future wife of Antonio's friend Bassiano, is a virtuous and intelligent woman who disguises herself as a man and acts as Antonio's lawyer. Through clever manipulation of the facts, Portia saves Antonio from his desperate situation and Shylock gets his just desserts.

Cymbelineappears in Cymbeline

Cymbeline is king of Britain during the time of the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus. His first wife dies and his second wife is evil and a cruel stepmother to Cybeline's daughter, Imogen. Imogen falls in love with Posthumus, who had grown up with her, being the orphaned son of one of the king's soldiers. They marry. When Cymbeline finds out, he banishes Imogen. At the end of the tale, Cymbeline is overjoyed to embrace his daughter Imogen again and welcomes Posthumus as a son-in-law. Cymbeline even forgives Belarius, who kidnapped his two sons. Cymbeline's wicked second wife dies.

Macbethappears in Macbeth

Macbeth is a Scottish lord who listens to the prophesies of three witches and murders the king of Scotland at the urging of his evil wife. His head is cut off at the end of the tale.

Petruchioappears in The Taming of the Shrew

Petruchio comes to Padua looking for a wife and decides to marry and tame the infamous Katharine, known for her shrewish ways and terrible temper. He marries her and succeeds in taming her and turning her into the most dutiful and obedient wife in Padua.

Angeloappears in Measure For Measure

The mild and gentle duke of Vienna turns over the governing of city to Angelo, who is a seemingly virtuous and definitely strict man. He hopes that Angelo will be able to bring order to Vienna, where young people no longer marry but live in sin. They do not give any heed to the Viennese law forbidding a man and woman to live together before marriage or else the man will be put to death.

Angelo throws young Claudio into prison for seducing a young woman and he is scheduled to be beheaded. Claudio persuades his beautiful sister, Isabel, to go and plead with Angelo. Angelo is overcome with lust for Isabel and tells her he will free her brother if she submits to his sexual advancements. A scheme is devised by the duke, who remained in Vienna disguised as a friar. The scheme is for Angelo's own wife, whom he has rejected because she lost her dowry, to take Isabel's place at the rendezvous. Angelo, nevertheless, intends for Claudio to be beheaded. The friar thwarts this. At the end of the tale, Angelo is remorseful when all is disclosed and reconciles with his wife, who loved him in spite of all he had done and realizes how sweet mercy is.

Isabelappears in Measure For Measure

Isabel is the sister of Claudio who has been condemned to death for seducing Juliet. She is a novitiate in the convent of St. Clare. She frees her brother with the help of the duke of Vienna who is disguised as a friar. She decides not to take the veil and marries the duke.

Violaappears in Twelfth Night; Or, What You Will

Viola is Sebastian's twin sister. They are separated when a ship they're on is shipwreck on the coast of Illyria. She falls in love with a noble duke Orsino, whom she serves as a page, disguised as a young man. She and Orsino finally end up together and get married.

Timonappears in Timon of Athens

Timon is a lord of Athens who is generous to a fault. All his false friends take advantage of his generosity reducing him to poverty. He goes to live in the forest like a wild animal and becomes a people hater to the end.

Flaviusappears in Timon of Athens

The honest steward of Timon a rich and overly generous lord of Athens. Flavius tries to warn Timon about Timon's so-called friends who actually had no love for Timon but used flattery and lies to take his wealth from him. Flavius is loyal to Timon to the end and seeks him out in the wood where he lives like a beast in a cave. At first Timon doesn't recognize him but is convinced that he is the only good man in the world. However, he sends Flavius away because he appears in

the form of a man and he hates all men.

Julietappears in Romeo and Juliet

Juliet is the young daughter of the family of Capulet in Verona. This family has a long-held feud with the family of the Montagues. Juliet Capulet and Romeo Montague fall in love at a ball that Juliet's father gives. Romeo attends the ball disguised by a mask. They marry secretly, helped by an old friar. Through a terrible stroke of fate, they both die in the Capulet tomb. Romeo kills himself when he sees Juliet supposedly dead, although she had only taken a potion to make her

seem dead. She kills herself upon awakening when she sees her dead Romeo.

Mirandaappears in The Tempest

Miranda is the daughter of Prospero, the duke Milan. She and her father are stranded on an enchanted island during most of the tale.

Calibanappears in The Tempest

Caliban is the ugly, ape-like creature, son of the witch Sycorax, whom Prospero teaches to speak but who can only serve as a slave he is so lazy and bad-natured.

Gertudeappears in Hamlet

The prince of Denmark's mother, who marries her murdered husband's brother Claudius, Hamlet's uncle.

Opheliaappears in Hamlet

Hamlet's sweetheart who commits suicide when she hears he has killed her father Polonius.

Laertesappears in Hamlet

Ophelia's brother and Polonius's son. He fights a duel with Hamlet on the urging of Hamlet's wicked uncle. He fights with a sword dipped in poison, but during the fight the swords are switched so he too dies from the poisoned sword, but not before he confesses his part in the treachery devised by Claudius to kill Hamlet.

Othelloappears in Othello

Othello is a noble, black Moor and a brave soldier. He kills his faithful wife out of jealousy by suffocating her with her bedding.

Desdemonda appears in Othello

Desdemona is the daughter of Brabantio, a rich senator of Venice, Italy. She falls in love with the famed and noble black soldier, the Moor Othello, and marries him. She is killed by her husband, Othello, because of his rage and jealousy, which is tragically unfounded.

Iagoappears in Othello

Iago is a treacherous, evil man. He uses his knowledge of human nature to trick Othello into a jealous rage by total deception and evil schemes, thus driving Othello to kill his beloved wife, Desdemona.

Cassioappears in Othello

Othello employs Cassio to help him woo Desdemona. Cassio and Desdemona become friends. Othello promotes Cassio to the position of lieutenant. Iago later convinces Othello that Cassio and Desdemona are lovers, which is not true.

Periclesappears in Pericles, Prince of Tyre

Pericles is the prince of Tyre, who flees his kingdom from the wicked emperor of Greece, Antiochus. On his way to Tarsus, he is shipwrecked on Pentapolis. He fights a tournament and wins the daughter of the king, Thaisa, as his bride. He hears that his former enemy has died and plans to return to Tyre with his now pregnant wife. He wife seemingly dies during childbirth on board the ship. At the end of the tale, Pericles is reunited with his wife, who is supposed to be dead, and with his grown daughter, Marina, who also is supposed to be dead. Both, however, had miraculously survived.

Thaisaappears in Pericles, Prince of Tyre

Thaisa is the wife of Pericles, who seemingly dies during childbirth on board Pericles' ship. He puts her in a large chest laden with jewels, sweet-smelling spices and a note. The chest is cast up on shore and a gentleman of Ephesus finds it, opens it and finds Thaisa is still alive. She becomes a priestess of Diana at the Temple, and later Pericles and she meet again at the temple and reunite.

Dionysiaappears in Pericles, Prince of Tyre

Dionysia is the wife of Cleon, with whom Pericles leaves his infant daughter, Marina, to be cared for and educated. Dionysia becomes very jealous of Marina's beauty, intelligence and talents because her own daughter lacks of of Marina's good qualities, though she had the same benefits of education. She plots the murder of Marina.

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This section contains 2,758 words
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Tales from Shakespeare from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.