William Shakespeare: Comedies, Histories and Tragedies by Peter SaccioProfessor Peter Saccio—an award-winning Ivy League Professor of Shakespeare studies—is your guide for this marvelous exploration of 15 of Shakespeares greatest plays. Learn how our most abundant poet and dramatist has been moving, delighting, and enlightening readers and audiences for 400 years, with no end in sight.
1. Shakespeare Then and Now
2. The Nature of Shakespeares Plays
3. Twelfth Night—Shakespearean Comedy
4. Twelfth Night—Malvolio in Love
5. The Taming of the Shrew—Getting Married in the 1590s
6. The Taming of the Shrew—Farce and Romance
7. The Merchant of Venice—Courting the Heiress
8. The Merchant of Venice—Shylock
9. Measure for Measure—Sex in Society
10. Measure for Measure—Justice and Comedy
11. Richard III—Shakespearean History
12. Richard III—The Villains Career
13. Richard II—The Theory of Kingship
14. Richard II—The Fall of the King
15. Henry IV—All the Kings Men
16. Henry IV—The Life of Falstaff
17. Henry V—The Death of Falstaff
18. Henry V—The King Victorious
19. Romeo and Juliet—Shakespearean Tragedy
20. Romeo and Juliet—Public Violence and Private Bliss;
21. Troilus and Cressida—Ancient Epic in a New Mode
22. Troilus and Cressida—Heroic Aspirations
23. Julius Caesar—The Matter of Rome
24. Julius Caesar—Heroes of History
25. Hamlet—The Abundance of the Play
26. Hamlet—The Causes of Tragedy
27. Hamlet—The Protestant Hero
28. Othello—The Design of the Tragedy
29. Othello—“O Villainy!”
30. Othello—“The Noble Moor”
31. King Lear—“This Is the Worst”
32. King Lear—Wisdom Through Suffering
33. King Lear—“Then We Go On”
34. Macbeth—“Fair Is Foul”
35. Macbeth—Musing on Murder
36. Macbeth—“Enter Two Murderers”
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
Tragedy, Comedy, History?
Shakespeare's plays have the reputation of being among the greatest in the English language and in Western literature. Traditionally, the plays are divided into the genres of tragedy , history , and comedy ; they have been translated into every major living language , in addition to being continually performed all around the world. Many of his plays appeared in print as a series of quartos , but approximately half of them remained unpublished until , when the posthumous First Folio was published. The traditional division of his plays into tragedies, comedies, and histories follows the categories used in the First Folio. However, modern criticism has labelled some of these plays " problem plays " that elude easy categorisation, or perhaps purposely break generic conventions, and has introduced the term romances for what scholars believe to be his later comedies.
A nineteenth century critic, F. The Merchant of Venice , for example, traditionally a comedy, features Shylock, a tragic figure in every way, while the comic elements are only there to frame and heighten the tragic feeling. The Comedy of Errors. As you Like It. Measure for Measure.
Early Greek comedy was in sharp contrast to the dignity and seriousness of tragedy. Aristophanes, the towering giant of comedy, used every kind of humour from the slapstick through sexual jokes to satire and literary parody. The main theme was political and social satire. The highly contrived endings are the clue to what these plays, all very different, are about. As usual there are two couples. One of the women is disguised as a man through most of the text — typical of Shakespearean comedy — but the other is in a very unpleasant situation — a young Jewess seduced away from her father by a shallow, rather dull young Christian. The play ends with the lovers all together, as usual, celebrating their love and the way things have turned out well for their group.
It is not always easy to categorically say whether a William Shakespeare play is a tragedy , comedy , or history , because Shakespeare blurred the boundaries between these genres, especially as his work developed more complexity in themes and character development. But those are the categories into which the First Folio the first collection of his works, published in ; he died in was divided, and thus, they are useful to start the discussion. The plays can be generally classified into these three broad categories based on whether the main character dies or is bequeathed a happy ending and whether Shakespeare was writing about a real person. This list identifies which plays are generally associated with which genre, but the classification of some plays is open to interpretation and debate and changes over time. There are both internal and external struggles and often a bit of the supernatural thrown in for good measure and tension. Often there are passages or characters that have the job of lightening the mood comic relief , but the overall tone of the piece is quite serious. The 10 Shakespeare plays generally classified as tragedy are as follows:.
Here is a sample beginning for a research paper on Shakespeare's Plays List. Paper Masters can write a custom paper to follow your guidelines. William Shakespeare , the greatest dramatist in the English language, if not of all time, wrote thirty-seven plays in one of three genres. Shakespeare wrote comedies , histories and tragedies, some more famous than others. Shakespeare wrote fourteen comedies. His comedies often involve mistaken identity, but always have a happy ending. Frequent themes include young lovers seeking to be together, and a clever servant who knows more than anyone else.