The Lyric Staff’s Favorite Shakespeare Characters

For The Book of Will at the Lyric Stage, we decided to get in the Shakespeare spirit and share our favorite characters and lines that they say!

1. Maria, Twelfth Night

“I will drop in his way some obscure epistles of love…I can write very like my lady your niece.” (Act II, Scene III)

Twelfth Night was my first introduction to Shakespeare at age 10 and holds a special place in my heart. I’ve always been delighted by Maria’s sly mischievousness and admired her wit (and her great one-line insults: “Peace, you rogue!”). Maria is the mastermind at the center of every comedic bit that makes Twelfth Night so fun!” – Kate Casner, Digital Marketing Associate

Twelfth Night centers on twins Viola and Sebastian who are separated in a shipwreck, as Viola (disguised as a man) falls in love with Duke Orsino. In turn, Duke Orsino is in love with Countess Olivia, who falls in love with Viola upon meeting her disguised as a man. Serving as Olivia’s lady in waiting, Maria knows how to put drunken noblemen in their place, as seen when she writes a letter that brings Malvolio to his downfall.

2. Hermia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.” (Act III, Scene II)

Set in Athens, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a collection of subplots that revolve around the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta. As one of the individuals part of the love conflict, Hermia is one of the strongest female characters in the play. She rejects male authority in order to be with the one she truly loves, and her choice of leaving Athens with Lysander represents a great act of defiance against the patriarchal order. As suggested by Box Office & Front of House Manager Sivan Amir, Hermia believes love is worth fighting for, and holds onto her love no matter the consequences.

3. Macduff, Macbeth

“Despair thy charm,

And let the angel whom thou still hast served

Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother’s womb

Untimely ripped” (Act V, Scene VIII)

“I remember reading this in high school and the delight and surprise in discovering Macduff’s destiny in taking down Macbeth. Having never read the play before, it was genuine astonishment as to who would end up the hero of the play and remembering the discovery of one of my favorite works of Shakespeare is a treasure to recall.” – Heather Darrow, Director of Marketing

Macbeth tells the story of the titular character receiving a prophecy that one day he will become King of Scotland. As he becomes consumed by ambition and eventually takes the Scottish throne, he is then wracked by guilt and forced to commit more murders to avoid suspicion. While Macbeth sinks into chaos and paranoia, it’s Macduff that takes action and acts to live an honorable life after his family is murdered.

4. The Bear, The Winter’s Tale

“Exit, pursued by a bear” (Act III, Scene III)

“I will never forget reading it in my Shakespeare class junior year.” – Josh Veilleux, Box Office Manager

In The Winter’s Tale, King Leontes accuses his wife Hermione of infidelity with his best friend, and she dies. Leontes then exiles his newborn child Perdita, who is raised by shepherds for sixteen years and falls in love with the son of Leontes’ friend. The Bear is a really interesting part of the play, given that it is only mentioned once in the play. A Lord at Leontes’ court, Antigonus is often condemned for obeying Leontes’ command to abandon young Perdita in the wilderness, and his death by a bear represents the punishment for this obedience.

5. Imogen, Cymbeline

“I beseech you, sir,

Harm not yourself with your vexation

I am senseless of your wrath; a touch more rare

Subdues all pangs, all fears.” (Act I, Scene I)

Believed to be one of Shakespeare’s final plays, Cymbeline tells the story of how King Cymbeline banishes his daughter Imogen’s husband, who makes a bet on Imogen’s fidelity. Imogen is then accused of being unfaithful and runs away, but ends up being a page for the Roman army as it invades Britain. Suggested by Alyssa Lara, Box Office & Front of House Assistant, Imogen is strong, wise, and honest; she stands up for herself to her father, and keeps her trust in her marriage vows, even when her husband bets on her fidelity.

6. Queen Margaret, Richard III

“I do find more pain in banishment Than death can yield me here by my abode. A husband and a son thou ow’st to me; . . . And thou a kingdom; —all of you, allegiance. The sorrow that I have by right is yours, And all the pleasures you usurp are mine. (Act I, Scene III).

“She’s unique in Shakespeare because we get to see almost her entire life played out over 4 of the histories, from young bride to vengeful widow, arguably making her Shakespeare’s most deeply explored single character.” – Katherine Shaver, Special Projects Manager

One of the longest plays in the Shakespeare canon, Richard III follows Richard of Gloucester as he uses manipulation and deceit in order to become King of England, even if it means murdering his family members to take the throne. One of the most memorable characters of the play, Queen Margaret represents the anger and helplessness of Richard’s victims as she expresses rage to Richard and his family. She also represents the plight of women under the patriarchal order of Renaissance England as the wife of the dead King Henry VI.

7. Lady Macbeth, Macbeth

“Come you spirits, That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here.” (Act I, Scene V)

Lady Macbeth is probably one of the most complex characters that Shakespeare has created. She’s shown as strong and ruthless, especially in the way of how she pushes her husband to do anything for her, including murder. In this line from Act I, Scene V, Lady Macbeth believes that she should reject her womanhood in order to commit violence, aggression, and ambition, all three traits attributed to masculinity during the time. As suggested by Marieska Luzada, Press and Digital Marketing Assistant, Lady Macbeth’s characterization develops an interesting relationship between gender and power, and her manipulation of her husband into acts of horrific violence is a part of what makes her one of the most frightening characters of the Bard’s repertoire.

8. Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing

“I thank God and my cold blood I am of your humor for that. I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.” (Act I, Scene I)

Set in Messina, Much Ado About Nothing follows two romantic pairings that emerge when a group of soldiers arrive in town. As Claudio falls in love with Leonato’s daughter Hero, Beatrice and Benedick bicker with each other, with each other making up a chunk of the play’s humor. As suggested by Courtney O’Connor, Director of The Book of Will and Artistic Director at the Lyric Stage, Beatrice is witty, cynical, and feisty. Beatrice can prove to be vulnerable, such as opening herself up to the sensitivities and weaknesses of love.