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Shakuntala is the heroine of the play. A beautiful young woman, she is the daughter of a royal sage and the nymph Menaka, and the foster daughter of Kanva. She lives as an… read analysis of Shakuntala

King Dusyanta

King Dusyanta, a member of the Puru lineage, reigns in northern India, with his capital at Hastinapura. He is the hero of the play. He is attentive to his royal duties, especially those of caring… read analysis of King Dusyanta


Sarvadamana is King Dusyanta’s and Shakuntala’s son. He is destined to become a world emperor, a fate prophesied by Vaikhanasa at the beginning of the play. He doesn’t appear in the play until… read analysis of Sarvadamana


Kanva is a great ascetic sage, head of the hermitage that’s the setting of the play’s first few acts, and Shakuntala’s beloved foster father. At the beginning of the play, he is absent from… read analysis of Kanva


Durvasas is a hot-tempered sage who visits the hermitage, then places a curse on Shakuntala and King Dusyanta because Shakuntala, distracted by her new husband’s absence and her pregnancy, fails to welcome him with appropriate… read analysis of Durvasas
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Marica is the father of the god Indra and a divine sage, the head of the celestial hermitage to which Shakuntala was spirited away by nymphs and has since lived with her son, Sarvadamanaread analysis of Marica
Minor Characters
Matali is the god Indra’s charioteer. He rouses King Dusyanta from depression by pretending to threaten Vidusaka’s life, then summons the King on an urgent demon-fighting mission.
Anasuya is a friend of Shakuntala and Priyamvada and a fellow ascetic at Kanva’s hermitage. She is a faithful companion, protective of Shakuntala, and encourages her romance and marriage to King Dusyanta.
Priyamvada is a friend of Shakuntala and Anasuya and a fellow ascetic at Kanva’s hermitage. She is a faithful companion, protective of Shakuntala, and encourages her romance and marriage to King Dusyanta.
Vidusaka is King Dusyanta’s close companion, a good-humored, overweight brahmin. His humorous remarks provide comic relief throughout the play. Matali pretends to threaten his life in order to rouse the King out of his depression.
Vaikhanasa is an ascetic who lives in Kanva’s forest hermitage. At the beginning of the play, he stops King Dusyanta from killing a hermitage deer and then invites him to visit the hermitage. He also pronounces a prophetic blessing about the King’s future son, Sarvadamana.
Sanumati, a nymph, is a friend of Shakuntala’s mother, Menaka. She spies on King Dusyanta’s court, but she doesn’t directly intervene in events, knowing that Menaka is working to bring about the King’s reunion with Shakuntala.
Menaka is a nymph and is Shakuntala’s mother. She conceived Shakuntala when she was sent to test the self-restraint of a royal sage, who proved unable to resist her beauty.
Karabhaka is a royal messenger whom the queen sends to King Dusyanta from the capital.
Gautami is the senior female ascetic at Kanva’s hermitage and accompanies Shakuntala to the capital.
One of the ascetics at Kanva’s hermitage, who accompanies Shakuntala to the capital.
Caturika is a maidservant in King Dusyanta’s court.
Lady Hamsapadika
Lady Hamsapadika is one of King Dusyanta’s consorts in the capital city. She sings a song that fills him with melancholy desire, although he can’t remember Shakuntala at the time.
The poor fisherman discovers Shakuntala’s lost ring in the belly of a fish, then gets arrested on suspicion of having stolen the ring from King Dusyanta. His story is quickly corroborated by the King, and he’s let go with an ample reward.
The actor-manager introduces the play in the Prologue, inviting the actress to sing a mood-setting song about summer romance.
In the Prologue, at the invitation of the actor-manager, the actress sings a song about summer romance to set the mood for the audience.
The chamberlain serves at King Dusyanta’s court. From his observations, Sanumati learns about what’s happened between the King and Shakuntala.
The doorkeeper is a female attendant at King Dusyanta’s court.