Where to find a listing of all the deaths in Shakespeare?
September 2, 2009 5:36 PM   Subscribe

I seek a tome of knowledge pertaining to the Bard of Avalon, one William Shakespeare hight by name. To meet my wishes, it is meet said tome contains a listing of all personae dramatica in each play who meet their end, timely or no. Doth such a book exist?

I am writing a play about the death and violence in Shakespeare's plays. I do not have time to read the entire canon back to front and list each character's death myself. Given the surfeit of reference books about the Bard, surely there must be one that contains this information? Do you know?
posted by starvingartist to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Shakespeare is from Stratford-on-Avon, not Avalon....
posted by dfriedman at 5:47 PM on September 2, 2009

I can't believe I wrote Avalon. I'm very embarrassed.
posted by starvingartist at 5:56 PM on September 2, 2009

Shakespeare's Characters for Students offers synopses and characters indexed by theme; I don't have it handy and can't say for sure if death is a quality they're indexed by.
posted by zepheria at 7:44 PM on September 2, 2009

As a starting point, Wikipedia has a list of Shakespearean characters that you could sort through to find the dead ones.

You might also find this fascinating medical journal article to be of interest: Faints, fits, and fatalities from emotion in Shakespeare's characters: survey of the canon
posted by zachlipton at 12:06 AM on September 3, 2009

Francis Griffin Stokes' Who's Who in Shakespeare gives a brief synopsis by alphabetical character name (or description, if the character be not named) of every character in Shakespeare's works, and where such is made in the works, a reference to their death. There are about 3,000 characters described therein, and not all of them, by any means, are furnished with a suitable end by Shakespeare, although many are. Still, at 350 pages, it's a lot better than reading the whole of Shakespeare. A day or two spent with that tome, and a marker, might serve you well.

But for all that, you may be buggered, still. Some of Shakespeare's most noted characters don't die in the plays, they die between them. Even the much loved Sir John Falstaff goes down between the end of The Second Part of Henry IV and Henry V. Only his illness and the fact of his death is reported in Henry V.

A number of other authors have provided similar compilations. Alternatively, through Google Books, perhaps you can search each work directly, for strings like "death" or "die" and "dying" to compile your own list at least semi-automatically. Again, better, timewise, than reading all of Shakespeare directly.
posted by paulsc at 4:16 AM on September 3, 2009

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