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In Honor of The Bard’s Birthday: The Signs as Shakespeare Characters

miranda in the tempest by john william waterhouse

It’s Shakespeare’s birthday! Well, at least we think it is and if we proceed from the assumption that the Bard of Avon was one person, and born on this day, that makes Shakespeare a Taurus! And that tracks: Tauruses are known for their love of beauty and comfort, even hedonism. They’re ambitious, astute, and hardworking, which sounds about right. So in honor of that, let’s see if we can find some characters from Shakespeare’s works that reflect all the signs.

Aries -Romeo, Romeo and Juliet

Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliet

We just finished up with Aries season and it was all about that energy of confidence, courage, honesty, and a little bit of youthful impulsiveness. Who better to represent these Rams than Romeo? He’s sexy and passionate, but maybe doesn’t always make the best decisions when he’s coming from a place of emotion. He’s the pinnacle of new, unbridled feelings and all the joy and danger therein.

Taurus – Beatrice, Much Ado About Nothing

Smart, stubborn, a bit indulgent and super charismatic? That sounds like Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing to me. Beatrice is committed to her single status and pretty committed to her views on men and marriage, but she’s also smart and creative, and a born leader. Even with all that, she’s got that practical, down-to-earth energy of a fixed earth sign, so she can handle herself.

Gemini – Puck, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

” I’ll put a girdle round about the Earth in forty minutes.” Why yes you will, Gemini. The endless energy, enthusiasm, mischief, and charisma of a Gemini is the perfect match for Robin Goodfellow, the fairy who has the most fun in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He’s wild and fun, and maybe even a little bit dangerous and completely unstoppable. Sounds like a Gemini to me!

Cancer – Hamlet, Hamlet

kenneth branagh

He broods, he’s sensitive, he has a lot to say about his feelings and life, and he doesn’t take rejection or adversity terribly well … yeah, Hamlet has some big Cancer energy. Like other water signs, Cancer is introspective and sensitive, but cancer is also loyal, as Hamlet is to his dead father, and protective. He’s smart and crafty as well, and yeah, maybe a bit vindictive. Or should we say crabby?

Leo – Falstaff, The Merry Wives of Windsor

Falstaff, perhaps the only Shakespeare character to get a “spin-off” from his appearances in Henry IV parts One and Two in The Merry Wives of Windsor, is possibly the ultimate Leo. He’s gregarious, fun, loves attention, and is kind of a whirling tornado of personality and chaos, like a lot of Leos we all know and love. And he’s also easily distracted and tricked—maybe even a bit flighty—but it’s fine because he’s just so much FUN.

Virgo – Viola, Twelfth Night

Virgos are complex, a lot like the heroine of Twelfth Night. They set their mind to things and endure, and they’re hard-working but in an extremely creative way. And you can see that in Viola, who protects herself and her maidenhood by taking on the disguise of a boy when she’s washed ashore. She’s patient and kind, like a good Virgo, but also a tiny bit uptight (she shoulda gone for it with Olivia!) and a bit stubborn too.

Libra – Henry V, Henry V

tom hiddleston as henry V

I think of Libras as peacemakers, and while that might not seem to fit at first for a martial king, Henry V (aka Prince Hal’s) traits to leadership, idealism and a commitment to fairness are very Libra. Hal is a great king because he finds balance and understands his people and his nobles. He’s social and clever … and can also be a bit wishy-washy at his worst, but when it comes down to it, he rules.

Scorpio – Iago, Othello

I tried, Scorpio, I really did. I tried to find a character for you that wasn’t a villain but Iago, a very complex character, resonates with this equally complex sign. Scorpios are determined, ambitious, and honest. Now Iago is all of those things in different ways (he’s honest with himself and the audience, even to a fault) and boy does he have that Scorpio sting going. He’s jealous, obsessive, and, let’s say, in touch with taboos. He’s smart and passionate, just not about things that are necessarily for the common good.

Sagittarius – Kate, The Taming of the Shrew

elizabeth taylor taming of the shrew

Independent, honest, rebellious, and hard to get close to. Well, that’s Kate and that’s Sagittarius. She knows what she wants and believes and it takes a lot of work (and manipulation) to break her down. But she’s also kind and smart, and has a deep capacity to love if you can get past some of those walls. All it takes is getting past the idea that she’s the only one that knows best which can sometimes be tricky with these archers. Compromise may be hard with a Sag, but life will be an adventure.

Capricorn – Lady Macbeth, Macbeth

Capricorns get stuff done. They’re ambitious (sometimes dangerously so), relentless, and are almost always the smartest person in the room, but rarely let anyone know because it’s easier to get things done that way. Lady Macbeth, who makes deals with dark spirits and pushes her husband to murder his King in the name of ambition, is a Capricorn to a tee. (I can say this as a Capricorn). Capricorns are the earth sign of the winter, in touch with darkness, but also incredibly sensitive and creative … which is why after all that murder stuff, Lady Mac felt really bad about it and just wouldn’t give up until her hands were clean.

Aquarius – Prospero, The Tempest

The sorcerer at the center of the Tempest, one of Shakespeare’s final and most introspective plays, works well here, towards the end of the Zodiac. Aquarians are highly visionary and intelligent, in a way that’s almost mystical and intuitive, and highly original. Sounds like a magician to me. But they can also be cold and closed off, maybe unpredictable and aloof … which sounds like a  magician that lived isolated on an island for decades who was friends with a fairy.

Pisces – Lear, King Lear

Pisces can be great. They can be super generous and empathetic and do kind things like divide a kingdom between kids … but only the two that are nice. Then when things get dramatic, a Pisces might, say, nope out of the stressful situation and end up wandering naked on a heath? Pisces is the final sign in the zodiac cycle, so they’re about maturity as well as sensitivity and even transcendence. They’re loving and vulnerable, often too much so, and so we need to be careful with them or well, see above re: naked on a heath.

Now, this is all for fun, and might not match your list or opinions and if that’s the case, let us know what character you think exemplifies your sign!

(image: “Miranda, The Tempest,” by John William Waterhouse, Wikimedia Commons)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.