Characters, Sorted By Number Of Lines Open Source Shakespeare is a great resource for doing things like this (not my idea, I just found it).  Here they’ve sorted on character based on number of lines.  Obviously it’s a little crude as Shakespeare himself shows up in the #1 spot with no plays listed, but right behind him are Falstaff and Henry V (both having appeared in numerous plays with major roles, it only makes sense), and then Hamlet (who, for only have a single play, has the most lines). Other interesting bits… * Othello and Iago have almost an identical number of lines. * Anthony has more lines than Cleopatra – but he was in Julius Caesar, too. * Behind Cleopatra, Rosalind from As You Like It has the most lines for a female. * Romeo has substantially more lines than Juliet, though they both have quite a few.  Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, has barely 1/3rd the number of her husband’s lines.  Tybalt barely registers with just 17 lines!

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3 thoughts on “Characters, Sorted By Number Of Lines

  1. Yeah…that’s not a very good list, I’m sorry to say. It seems more driven by what was easy for someone to do with a couple lines of PERL code than anything else. Look at one of the early entries on the list, “Duke of Gloucester”–we have two different characters going into that total: Duke Humphrey in H5, 1H6 and 2H6, and then Richard III (who starts out as a later Duke of Gloucester) in R3 (but not, incidentally, the same person’s lines in 3H6). Under “Richard III,” we have the lines of the person who will eventually _become_ Richard III from the play Henry VI, Part 3, but not his lines from the first half of the play Richard III, because he isn’t king yet. There are a lot of mistakes like that as I look over the list.

    Then too, look at that entry for “Gloucester” in the play Richard 3: the first “line” credited is “Now is the winter of our discontent”–the whole speech, one line. The “count” of lines is determined by how many times the character’s name appears a speech heading, while the natural assumption with Shakespeare would be that we are talking about “lines” of verse (with some kind of conversion factor for prose). It’s hard to say what value there is in a count that gives as much weight to “Now is the winter,” in full, as it does to Richard’s next line which is, “Upon what cause?” And God only knows what those 733 lines assigned to “Shakespeare” are.

  2. Lady MacBeth certainly proves that it’s not the number of lines you have that counts.

    She’s barely in the play at all, but she’s usually the performance you remember.

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