Each play by William Shakespeare is a treasure in its way. William Shakespeare is one of my favourite writers. Each reader has their reason and my reasons are the exhibition of the historical context and his characteristic of a tragic flaw. Shakespeare is a timeless writer and will always be. As his Sonnet 18, last lines say, “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see/ So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.” Here is a list of the top 10 plays written by William Shakespeare.
Top 10 Plays Written by William Shakespeare
The spirit of the king of Denmark asks his son Hamlet to avenge his death by killing Claudius. Claudius is the newly crowned king of Denmark. He is Hamlet’s uncle and now father too, as Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother married Claudius. His uncle fearing his death also plots to kill Hamlet. Hamlet is not the best representation of humanity or us. He portrays the darker side of human selfishness. The lesson that readers receive from this play is that if people let revenge and anger get the best of them, it will only cause damage.
Three witches prophesize that Macbeth will be the king of Scotland. Driven by ambition and greed for power, Macbeth kills the king and more people out of paranoia and becomes the king. One of the reasons for this play being so popular is that it was not just a figment of Shakespeare’s imagination. It is based on the king of 11th-century England. The primary theme of this tragic play is that destruction thrives when ambition and desire go unchecked by moral constrictions.
Another popular tragedy, Julius Caesar is the story of an honorable hero who makes a few critical errors in his verdict by misreading events and people. This leads to his death and a fatal civil war than consumes his nation. The major themes of this play are honor and ambition and the power of rhetoric. Caesar and Antony act with honor towards Rome. Cassius and Brutus are driven by ambition which makes them plot against Caesar and then use rhetoric to justify the killing.
Romeo and Juliet
One of the most popular plays by Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet is addressed and recognized with romance. However, it is a romantic tragedy. It is based on a real-life story of two lovers who died for each other in 1303, in Verona, Italy. William Shakespeare discovered this tragedy from Arthur Brooke’s 1562 poem The Tragical History of Romeo and Juliet. An age-old Vendetta between the Montague and the Capulet families led to bloodshed and the death of Romeo and Juliet.
One of the most famous Shakespearean tragedies King Lear is about Lear goes mad and wanders through a storm. King Lear divides his kingdom between two daughters who flatter him. And, he banishes his third daughter who loves him. According to Truskinovsky, the case of King Lear could be bipolar disorder I. King Lear’s tragic flaw is his lack of self-knowledge which caused him chaos and tragedy. The play also suggests how self-knowledge can be painful. This tragic play is popular for its use of blindness, and madness, and my favourite aspect is the title – the meaning of “Lear” is “a lesson.”
The Tempest is a play about an unfair act of usurpation of Prospero’s throne by his brother. It follows Prospero’s eventual conquest to re-establish justice by getting himself to power. Some major themes of this play are freedom, forgiveness, the desire for power and to rule, the notion of men versus monsters, and the illusion of justice. This play is popular and special because it takes place all in one day and surrounds spirits and magic.
Iago, being overlooked for promotion plots a plan to take revenge on the praised one, his general, the Moor of Venice, Othello. Iago manages to manipulate Othello into that his wife Desdemona is not loyal to him. This managed to spark jealousy in him. Othello allows this jealousy to grow and murders Desdemona with his hand, and later kills himself. The reason for Othello’s tragedy is his flaw. He let the prejudices of others surrounding him grow in his head. This play is based on a true story.
Much Ado About Nothing
The two main characters of the play, Beatrice and Benedick despise love. Both of them engage in comic banter. The other characters of the play plot bring them close and fall in love with each other. They plan to make the two characters overhear their friends having a conversation about their supposed secret love for each other. The play deals with common themes of love, the necessity of marriage, the position of women in society, gender roles, and more.
The Merchant of the Venice
An anti-Semitic merchant named Antonio takes a loan from the Jew Shylock. Antonio wanted to help out his friend to court Portia. Antonio fails to repay the loan and Shylock demands a pound of his flesh. On the other hand, heiress Portia is now his friend’s wife. Portia dresses as a lawyer and saves Antonio from the situation. This Shakespearean comedy shows that love is more significant than money, as it is structured partly on the contrast between the realistic and idealistic notions about relationships and society.
A Midsummer’s Night Dream
This popular comedy by William Shakespeare is about the events surrounding the marriage of Theseus, king of Athens, and queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta. The play follows Hermia and Lysander as they try to elope but failed. They are dodged by Demetrius who loves Hermia, and Helena is in love with Demetrius. A Midsummer’s Night Dream paints the portrait of love in its many forms. It shows how the course of love is never smooth and how it makes people do odd things.