Is This Character From the Bible or a Shakespeare Play?



By: Elizabeth Lavis

6 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons by Edwin Henry Landseer

About This Quiz

Both the Bible and Shakespeare's prolific collection of dramas and comedies contain plenty of characters who are totally memorable and one of a kind. From cruel, genocidal kings to helpful heavenly forces that intervene at exactly the right moment, both the Bible and Shakespeare's plays are full of storylines that keep us entertained and engaged.

If you're a big fan of The Bard, or you've read your New and Old Testament from cover to cover, we have a challenge for you. We've collected some of the most influential and erratic characters from both Biblical and Shakespearean stories, and it's up to you to tell us where they've come from.

Sure, you remember Jesus from the New Testament, but do you recall the names of his most loyal and trusted advisors? Similarly, we have no doubt that you know the name of lovestruck teen queen Juliet, but who can remember the rest of the bloodthirsty Capulet clan? Both the Bible and Shakespeare's catalog of work are populated with otherworldly beings, so can you determine which helper from beyond belongs in what story? If you're a scholar and a poet, it's time to show off your skills with this challenging character quiz. Let's get started!

Despite his best efforts, Cain was never as good as his brother, so he killed him. Was this the work of Shakespeare or a Bible story?

Cain tried and tried, but he never was as good as his brother Abel. God favored Abel, enraging the jealous Cain so he killed his brother and became the first murderer in the Bible.


There are no shortage of evil characters in both the Bible and Shakespeare, but only one was thrown from a window and eaten by dogs. Who was she?

Jezebel is one of the big bad female characters in the Bible. After orchestrating scores of massacres against God's chosen people, she was tossed out of a window and eaten by stray dogs.


A clever being makes mischief on a midsummer night. Is Puck from the Bible or a Shakespeare play?

Puck is one of the pivotal characters in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." He's usually presented as a sprite or fairy, and gets his kicks by intervening in the lives of the other characters.


She had nightmares where the blood simply wouldn't wash off her hands. Was Lady Macbeth a Biblical queen or a creation of William Shakespeare?

Lady Macbeth is one of the most important characters in the Shakespearean tragedy, "Macbeth." One of the most famous scenes of the play shows her trying in vain to wash blood from her hands.


In the far-away city of Venice, this beautiful and quick-witted protagonist had her pick of suitors. Who are we talking about?

"The Merchant of Venice" is not one of Shakespeare's more well-known plays, but it is certainly a gem. Portia plays the protagonist; a beautiful and quick-witted character who finds a suitor.


This wise prophet lived in the desert and factored heavily into the later part of the story. Who was he?

John the Baptist was a prophet and friend of Jesus in the New Testament. He was known for being a devout follower of Christianity, as well as a wise sage who spent plenty of time isolated in a desert.


Joseph's fabulous coat of many colors earned him the jealousy of his brothers, but he got the last laugh. Was this Shakespeare or the Bible?

Joseph's story has been duplicated several times in pop culture, including the hit musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." His prophetic dreams made him valuable to the Pharaoh and saved his life.


Which expert manipulator persuaded the Moor of Venice that his wife was cheating on him?

Iago is one of the most detailed and well-written villains in Shakespeare. He uses his manipulative skills to convince Othello, the Moor of Venice, that Desdemona was stepping out.


Brutus is pulled in two directions: loyalty to his friend versus loyalty to his country. He chooses country. Is his tale from the Bible or a Shakespeare play?

One of the most famous lines in Shakespeare's "Julius Ceasar" is when Caesar utters the words "Et tu Brute?" meaning, "Even you, Brutus?" Brutus is a conflicted and complicated character.


This skeptical fisherman quickly saw the light and became an apostle. Who was he?

Peter the fisherman quickly became one of the most pivotal characters in the New Testament of the Bible. He has the distinction of being one of only 12 apostles and a close friend of Jesus.


Esau was tricked into giving up his birthright and inheritance for a bowl of soup. Was he a character from Shakespeare or the Bible's New Testament?

Esau was the simple elder son of Issac, who preferred spending time in the woods to mulling over his inheritance, so it should come as no surprise that he gave it all up for a bowl of soup.


This brooding King of Denmark simply couldn't get over the death of his father and suspected foul play. He was right. Who was he?

Hamlet was the first character to suspect that something was rotten in the state of Denmark. Hamlet's father was murdered by his uncle, and he was the youthful king who unraveled the plot.


Cruel King Herod ruled Judea and mandated that all baby boys be executed so his throne wouldn't be threatened. Was this villain Biblical or of Shakespearean lore?

King Herod was one of the early villains of the New Testament of the Bible. When he heard about the birth of Jesus, Herod decreed that all baby boys in Judea be killed so that he could keep his throne.


The prophetess Miriam saves an infant from the Nile River and changes the course of history. Did this happen in Shakespeare or the Bible?

Miriam was one of the most important characters in the biblical book of Exodus. Known as "Miriam the Prophetess," she was responsible for making sure that Moses was rescued from the Nile River.


Did the original frenemy Judas sell out his best friend for 30 pieces of silver in the Bible or Shakespeare?

Judas' betrayal of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver is so well-known that his mere name is slang for someone who will stab you in the back. An original apostle, Judas gave in to his greed.


This shipwrecked orphan went undercover as a boy to escape detection. Who was this clever character?

Viola is one of Shakespeare's most resourceful and well-developed characters. In "Twelfth Night," she finds herself shipwrecked and decides to disguise herself as a boy to roam the city.


Pontius Pilate meted out his famous punishment: death by crucifixion. Did this happen in Shakespeare or the Bible?

Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judaea during Biblical times, and he was responsible for sentencing Jesus Christ to crucifixion. His sentencing set the popular Easter story in motion.


He triumphed against the giant Goliath with only a slingshot and a rock. Who was this hero?

The David and Goliath story is one of the Bible's best examples of the little guy triumphing over a giant bully. Armed with only a slingshot and a rock, David bests Goliah and goes on to rule.


King Lear's daughters all curry his favor to try to get his land. Did this familial manipulation happen in Shakespeare or the Bible?

King Lear's daughters are all greedy for his land and power in this Shakespearean tragedy that showcases all-too-familiar family dynamics. It's an often-overlooked but brilliant work.


Malvolio is a pompus antagonist and bit of comedic relief in a cautionary tale from the Bible or a Shakespearean comedy. Which one is it?

Malvolio is one of the minor characters in "Twelfth Night," but anyone who has seen the play is sure to find him memorable. Arrogant, pompous and totally in love with himself, he is such comic relief!


This king might not have been perfect, but did he actually deserve to be murdered by his former allies?

Shakespeare went straight to the pages of real Roman history for his popular tragedy "Julius Caesar." This play chronicles the real-life events that led up to the death of Julius Caesar at the hands of his trusted advisors and friends.


Inspired by a burning bush, he led his people out of slavery and to the chosen land. Who was this epic leader?

Moses is one of the most famous characters from the Old Testament of the Bible. He famously led his people out of Egyptian slavery and to the promised land, dividing the Red Sea in the process.


Desdemona got caught in the middle of vicious rumors about her fidelity. Is her tale of woe penned by Shakespeare or from the Bible?

Desdemona is one of the principal characters in "Othello" and the subject of Iago's vicious rumors about her fidelity. She was married to the principal character of the play: Othello himself.


Was it Shakespearean lore or a Bible story where Amazon queen Hippolyta was supposed to be married on a balmy summer night?

Hippolyta is a minor character in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," but she remains a true William Shakespeare fan favorite. Her wedding sets the stage for all of the events of the play.


She was tasked with seeking out the source of Samson's strength, which happened to be his hair! What femme fatale are we talking about?

Delilah was an Old Testament femme fatale who was tasked with finding out the source of Samson's strength. Since he was smitten with her, he told and she used it against him. Oh, love!


Both the Bible and Shakespearean lore are full of prophets, but only one includes a story about the "weird sisters." Which was it?

In "Macbeth," the three witches, or "weird sisters," predict the rise of Macbeth and act as harbingers for many of the events that happen in the play. They are based on the three fates of mythology.


He was thrown into the lion's den and survived, thanks to powerful intervention. Who was this lucky man?

In the story, Daniel was thrown into the lion's den with the expectation that he would be consumed by the giant predators, but he emerged unscathed because the angels had shut the mouths of the lions.


Rosalind must deal with the banishment of her father and the disruption of the kingdom. Are we talking about Shakespeare or the Bible?

Rosalind is the primary female protagonist of the Shakespearean play "As You Like It." This popular festival play is actually a comedic masterpiece and Rosalind is a developed and intriguing character.


This former friend of Caesar had to choose between his country and his loyalty. Who was he?

Mark Antony is one of William Shakespeare's most complicated characters. Although he prided himself on being a great friend to Julius Caesar, he really only was looking out for himself.


Esther's quick thinking saved her city. Was this story a creation of William Shakespeare or the Bible?

Queen Esther was one of the most important rulers of the Old Testament, and she was responsible for foiling a plan to kill all of the Jewish people in her city, thus saving their lives.


Which star-struck teenage lover's story ended in tragedy?

The story of Romeo and Juliet has been billed as a love story for the ages, but realistically it chronicles the rash behavior of two teenagers from warring families. Still, it's one of Shakespeare's best works.


Claudius wanted to ascend the throne, so he murdered his own brother. Is this tragic story from the Bible or Shakespeare?

Claudius is the main antagonist of Shakespeare's "Hamlet." His desire to ascend the throne and wed Gertrude led him to poison his own brother, only to be found out by Prince Hamlet.


Mary Magdalene was a primary adviser and contemporary of the apostles. Was she famous in the Bible or a Shakespearean play?

Mary Magdalene is one of the most important characters in the Bible's New Testament. She was a contemporary of the apostles, an adviser to Jesus and was present for the resurrection.


This meddlesome cousin disproved of Juliet's love interest. Who was he?

In "Romeo and Juliet," Tybalt is not fond of the teenage union and viciously defends the honor of his house, the Capulets, against what he perceives to be an insult against his family.


Isaac was saved in the nick of time from being murdered by his father. Was this lucky son a character in the Bible or a Shakespearean play?

Isaac was the son of Sarah and Abraham in the Bible. Old Testament God demanded that Abraham show his loyalty by murdering the child on the rock, which Abraham was prepared to do until God called it off.


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