Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Who Are The Icons of Shakespeare?

Who are the most visually defining characters in Shakespeare?  What I mean by that is, if you take away the words, and just present the person, what is the visual representation that makes people say, "Yup! I recognize that. That's ________."

The easy one, of course, is Hamlet.  Put a young looking guy in an all black, Elizabethan-looking outfit and have him holding a skull. Done.

But ... what else? Or, rather, who else?

Juliet in the balcony is pretty iconic - but can she be, without the balcony? I suppose if you always pair Juliet with Romeo you can have two young Elizabethans, one holding a vial of poison, one holding a dagger.

Three witches around a cauldron scream "Macbeth!" to me, but they don't actually show Macbeth the character. You could have Macduff holding Macbeth's head, but that identifies the former, not the latter.

How about hunchback Richard III?

I'd love to put big fat Falstaff on the list.  I think that if we made a poster of Shakespeare characters and people knew that, and then started trying to recognize them, that you could spot Falstaff easily.  But what if Falstaff was the only character? Is there some way to portray his jolly old self that makes you immediately recognize him?


SariJ said...

I would guess "Falstaff" if I saw a picture of an older man laughing and raising his cup. It's the image that always comes to mind. Perhaps a picture of a ft knight hiding behind a tree would do it too.

Peder DeFor said...

I recently saw a book cover that used this theme. There were about a dozen figures from different Shakespeare plays. For instance, Cleopatra with an asp, Othello with a pillow, etc.