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Category: baby names from plays

Shakespeare baby names

by Christina June

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” — William Shakespeare

True story: I have never once wanted to get revenge on someone. I don’t have any enemies and I strive to be kind to everyone; I remind myself there’s always another side to the story and try my best to keep that in mind when something doesn’t go my way. Because of this, or perhaps in spite of it, I’ve always been fascinated with stories about revenge and why someone would choose to go down that slippery slope.

Several months ago, when I answered a call for short stories to be part of a new charity anthology of Shakespeare retellings, the only play I even considered working with was Othello—the ultimate tale of revenge. A perpetual favorite of mine, I turned Othello into The Scarf, which brings the familiar characters to a modern high school during a student government election. Golden boy Omar is poised to win the presidency, the ultimate power position in the school, but just hours before the results are to be announced, he confronts his girlfriend Darcy about the mounting evidence that she’s cheating on him with his running mate. With a missing scarf as the seemingly final nail in the coffin of their relationship, stage manager Emerson begins to put together their pieces of the story that isn’t as it appears on the surface.

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shakesp

Yes, today is the Ides of March (which really just means the mid-point of the month),  yet unless you’re Julius Caesar, there’s no reason to beware.  But Julius Caesar does bring to mind William Shakespeare, so this seems like a good time to look at Shakespeare names beyond Juliet and Jessica, Richard and Romeo, to some of the more underappreciated names used by the Bard in his comedies and tragedies.

Some of Shakespeare’s most distinctive, most villainous names will probably always be verboten, such as Iago, which on the surface would seem to have the makings of a perfect I-beginning, o-ending name.  Other baddies, though, such as Cassius and Edmund and Regan, have escaped having their reputations permanently ruined.

So here are the Nameberry Picks for the 12 best underused Shakespeare names.

Balthasar/BalthazarBalthasar was the name assumed by Portia when disguised as a boy in The Merchant of Venice, as well as being one of the three Wise Men of the Orient who brought gifts to the infant JesusBalthazar has been associated in modern times with the acting member of the Getty family, who has a son with the equally Shakespearean name of Cassius.

Cassio Cassio is a young and handsome Florentine solider who serves under Othello, Cassio  actually being his last name—his first being Michael–an implausible choice for an Italian.  Cassio just might conceivable slipstream along in the wake of the related, growing-in-popularity Cassius.

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