The Characters

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Rooke’s Hooker is convincingly a dog but is, at the same time, much more than a dog. The author has evidently observed dogs closely, as is shown by the graphic particulars of Hooker’s behavior whether fighting, rutting, feeding, howling, barking, or gallivanting. Rooke’s conjectural accounts of Hooker’s canine perception of particular people and places are persuasive enough. Hooker’s conversations with other dogs about such topics as poaching and pendulous scrotums are equally plausible. One of the more convincing portrayals of Hooker’s canine world is that of his early days with his mother and sister.

Hooker, however, is as much human as canine, and as such, he becomes a fantasy portrait. His canine companions observe that he occasionally is partly human in appearance. When a drunk addresses him as his son and holds him erect on his hind legs, Hooker feels “grand” standing as a Two Foot, his term for man. It is Hooker’s thoughts, however, that set him apart from the canine world and impart to him his human personality. He is philosophical and learned. He is acquainted with Aristotle’s works. He believes in the immortality of the soul and is capable of defending his position against Will. He laments the lot of beggars and orphans and criticizes Will for ignoring them and rejecting egalitarianism.

Hooker is cantankerous, aggressive, and foul-mouthed, but he has much humane understanding and tolerance of man and dog. He is...

(The entire section is 525 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Hooker, a mongrel dog. He has a long nose, a whitish smear behind the ears, lean haunches, and a sturdy tail. Inquisitive, aggressive, and lecherous, he gets aroused by any bitch, including his twin sister Terry, and even by Anne Hathaway Shakespeare. Adopted by William Shakespeare, Hooker saves him from drowning in the Avon River and provides him with phrases that will become famous in his plays. Considering dogs to be as intelligent and important as humans, Hooker despises Shakespeare’s acceptance of conservative beliefs, such as the chain of being, his lack of compassion, and his exaltation of body over soul. Having killed a deer in Sir Thomas Lucy’s park at Charlecote, and therefore being in danger of severe punishment, Hooker is overjoyed when his master decides to leave Stratford for London.

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare, an aspiring writer. Highbrowed and balding at the age of twenty-one, he has been married for three years to the former Anne Hathaway, whom he impregnated. Now he attempts to write in an upstairs room, but domestic affairs continually interrupt him, and he frequently comes to blows or bed with his wife. He chafes at small-town life but aspires to buy New Place if he can escape to make his fame and fortune in London, seat of the queen, about which he fantasizes.

Anne Hathaway Shakespeare

Anne Hathaway Shakespeare, who is eight years older than her husband, a stocky, lusty, and earthy woman oppressed by the chores of motherhood and unalterably suspicious of and opposed to her husband’s plans to leave her in Stratford while he goes to London.

John Shakespeare

John Shakespeare, William’s father. Now white-haired and bloated with dropsy, he used to be a citizen of importance in Stratford, but quarrels and debts have driven him into staying at home. There he drinks Warwickshire brown ale, deplores contemporary trends such as the spread of enclosures and the increase in Hathaways under his roof, and reminisces about his wooing Mary Arden thirty years ago.


Wolfsleach, a dog. He lusts after Marr, Hooker’s steady bitch, and is defeated by him in a fight. Apparently dead, he eventually recovers and runs off with Terry, Hooker’s twin sister.