Quiz: Shakespeare characters that share the same name

The Comedy of Errors
Twins Antipholus of Ephesus (Bruce Nelson) and Antipholus of Syracuse (Darragh Kennan) in The Comedy of Errors, Folger Theatre, 2011. Photo by Carol Pratt.

With more than 1,000 characters in Shakespeare’s plays, it’s practically inevitable that some of their names would be repeated. A number of characters share the same title, such as “Soldier,” or they might be called only by their last name, which would be the same for other family members (this happens a lot in the histories.) The most repeated name might have to be Henry, given that a Henry is the title character in seven plays.

Sometimes the repetition of names is obviously quite deliberate, such as with the two sets of identical twins in The Comedy of Errors: a merchant’s sons, both named Antipholus, and their servants, both named Dromio. Doubling these names amplifies the comic confusion when the long-separated twins find themselves in the same city and are mistaken by the inhabitants for each other.

But most of the time there doesn’t seem to be a particular rhyme or reason for the repetition of a name. After all, even Shakespeare needed to reuse material now and again.

Take the quiz to see if you can identify some of these Shakespeare characters who share names with characters in other plays.