This thesis explores the process wherein the audience either rejects or assimilates new literary iterations of previously established characters. It focuses on W.S. Gilbert and Tom Stoppard's subsequent elaborations of Shakespeare's characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from Hamlet in their respective works Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (1874) and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1966), and examines Shakeseare's own trouble with elaborating on his character Sir John Falstaff from the Henriad in his The Merry Wives of Windsor, and how this attempt by Shakespeare at elaborating on Falstaff compares with Robert Nye's modern attempt in his novel Falstaff (1976). The purpose of this thesis is to examine the ways in which these later reappropriations of Shakespeare's characters challenge the original iterations and either fail or succeed to influence the way in which we define the nature of these characters within their original Shakespearean context. My hypothesis is that by performing a structural analysis of how the different itereations of these characters are realized within their resepective plays and then applying these findings in an examination of the receivers' responses to these iterations, we come closer to successfully identifying the essence, or a common defining denominator, of any given character. This happens through our focusing on the various criteria which the receivers cite as reasons for their rejection or acceptance of any given character elaboration, as this suggests which traits or elements of a character's conception are deemed essential to the identity of that character as it exists within the public consciousness. The idea of characters as entitities defined by the receivers' collective experience with them is also explored, as well as how the authority of the character's original creator is displaced once the character is popularized and reappropropriated by the audience.