Vol. 41 No. 4 (1993)
Research Article

Shakespeare's Mutes and What They Tell Us

Published 1993-12-01



Both named and unnamed characters appear in Shakespeare's plays. The names may be seen as one of two general means of reference. If we focus on the act of reference, we see that names of characters and the types of reference sometimes change. These changes generally reflect changes in authorial intention and artistic concept, and can be seen more frequently in the cases of minor than of major characters. The mute characters comprise a small group with simple dramatic functions.


  1. Ashley, Leonard R. N., guest editor. Names 35 (1987) Nos. 3 & 4.
  2. Coates, Richard. “A Provincial Bibliography on Names in the Works of Shakespeare.” Names 35 (1987):206–223.
  3. Hunter, G.K., ed. All’s Well That Ends Well. New Arden Edition. Cambridge, Harvard UP, 1959.
  4. Levith, Murray J. What’s in Shakespeare’s Names. Hamden, CT: Archon Books,1976.
  5. Marcotte, P.J. “Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, Lines 2017-2018.” The Explicator 41.6–9.
  6. McLeish, Kenneth. Shakespeare’s Characters: A Players Press Guide. Studio City, CA: Players Press,1992.
  7. Rajec, Elizabeth M. “A Selected Bibliography of Shakespeare and Literary Onomastics.” Names 35 (1987):224–231.
  8. Stokes, Francis Griffen. Who’s Who in Shakespeare. New York: Crescent Books, 1989.
  9. Thomson, W. H. Shakespeare’s Characters: A Historical Dictionary. New York: British Book Centre, 1951.