A Midsummer Night's Dream
Theseus, the Duke of Athens, is planning his marriage to Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. He hires Philostrate to plan the entertainment for a four-day-long marriage festival. Egeus, a local nobleman, arrives with his daughter Hermia, as well as Lysander and Demetrius. Egeus wants Hermia to marry Demetrius, who loves her, but Hermia is in love with Lysander. Hermia and Lysander plan to elope, and Helena, Hermia's friend who is in love with Demetrius, inf... All's Well That Ends Well
The Countess of Rossilion's son Bertam goes to Paris to help the king of France. Helena, a lady in the Countess' protection, has fallen in love with Bertram. She plans to travel to Paris to use her medical skills to try and heal the king who is ill.
Helena successfully cures the king and he reward her by
arranging for her to marry Bertram even though he does not love her. After they are married, Bertram flees to serve the Duke of Florence in the wa... As You Like It
"All the world's a stage...." Duke Senior and his courtiers have been overthrown by his brother Duke Frederick, and have gone to live in the forest of Arden. Rosalind, the daughter of Duke Senior, is banished too, but the usurper's daughter Celia (Rosalind's cousin) goes with her. The court fool, Touchstone, accompanies the banished daughters to the wild forest. Orlando, the honorable son of one of the courtiers, also heads for the woods after winning a ... Hamlet
The ghost of Denmark's murdered King Hamlet appears to his son, Prince Hamlet, bidding him to kill King Claudius, his murderer, who has usurped the crown and taken Queen Gertrude as his wife. His indecision and delays in action may be regarded as ploys by which he hopes to avoid the responsibility that his father's ghost has assigned him, and his vacillation and inactivity result complicate an already bad situation. At the end of the play, many of the ...
Young King Henry V of England decides to go to war with France after being assured that he has a right to the throne by blood. The French Prince sends insults to Henry via the harold, Mountjoy, who sympathizes with Henry, though is loyal to the French. Henry takes his "happy few" to war, and after a tremendous battle at Agincourt, he triumphs and takes the French throne. Then he woos the French Princess Katherine who is somewhat reluctant to love "the en... Julius Caesar
Taken from Plutarch's history of the Romans, the theme of this tragedy is kingship versus republicanism, power politics, treachery, and the violence that breeds violence after Caesar's murder. It was as relevant to Shakespeare's day as it is to ours. The ghost of Caesar the aspiring king has a major part in this play just as the ghost of Hamlet's father the king affects that play. The Signet Classic Shakespeare edition of this work has excellent notes an... King Lear
King Lear decides that he is going divide his kingdom into three sections and give a section to each of his daughters. In order to decide how much land and power each daughter will get, Lear has all three make pledges of their love to him. The older two greedy daughters do so, lying to please Lear, but his favorite, so he cut her off and gave everything to his other scheming daughter and their husbands.
But after the girls get the land and the power... Macbeth
Duncan, King of Scotland, has won mighty battles with the help of his warriors Macbeth and Banquo. Spurred by his ambitious wife and the blandishments of three witches, Macbeth murders Duncan to become the new king. But each step entails more -- Macbeth fears the goodness and strength of his old buddy Banquo, the armies of England gather against him -- and he pushes on through a downward, bloody spiral. Shakespeare presents a gripping, chilling tale with... Measure for Measure
The Duke of Vienna decides to go away, and leaves Angelo in charge while he is gone. However, the Duke really disguises himself and sticks around. Claudio is imprisoned for adultery, and is sentenced to death. His sister Isabella, who wants to become a nun, pleads to Angelo for his life. Angelo says he will only agree if Isabella will yield her body to him. Isabella refuses. The Duke steps in, still disguised as a friar, and suggests that Isabella agree ... Much Ado About Nothing
Fresh back from military victories, various Italian lords are ready for relaxation and romance. Benedick, a witty lord, declares he will die a bachelor, while Beatrice, an equally intelligent and sharp-tongued lass, will have nothing to do with men. Young Claudio and Hero are much taken with each other, however, and determine to marry. Unfortunately, some mischief makers lead Claudio to believe Hero has been having some other man visit her bedchamber, an...
William Shakespeare list of books
Othello is a Moor in Venice, who has attained success as a renowned general and has married fair Desdemona. Iago, his ancient, envies him and resents the fact that Cassio has been named Othello's lieutenant.
They are all sent to Cyprus to defend the island from an attack that never comes. There, Iago plots against Othello, cunningly making him believe that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio.
Iago is constantly maneuvering other characters an... Richard II
King Richard II banishes his nephew, Henry Bolingbroke, whose father John Gaunt dies. Richard seizes Gaunt's lands and money to fund his military efforts in Ireland, even though the property belonged to Bolingbroke by inheritance. Richard grows increasingly unpopular, so several key noblemen support Bolingbroke in his uprising during the King's trip to Ireland. Eveything goes wrong for Richard and he is overthrown and imprisoned. Bolingbroke becomes King... Richard III
In the late 1400s, Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, a deformed and sinister individual, plots to become king of England after the success of his elder brother Edward in the War of the Roses.
Because his brother George, Duke of Clarence, is ahead of him in the line of succession, Richard frames him for treason and has him imprisoned in the Tower of London. Not satisfied that these measures will prevent George from gaining the throne, Richard sends assa... Romeo and Juliet
Romeo (Montague), who is in love with Rosaline, goes to a party in an effort to forget her or to ease his broken heart. At this party he met Juliet, and immediately fell in love with her. He later finds out that she is a Capulet, the rival family of the Montagues. He decides that he loves her anyway and they confess their love for each other during the very famous "balcony scene" in which they agree to secretly marry the next day. Friar Lawrence agrees t... Sonnets
These 154 poems constitute the most famous sonnet cycle in the English language. Many are addressed to a beautiful young man whom the poet admires and venerates, and urges to marry and raise children; others to a "Dark Lady" (i.e., not blonde) for whom the poet feels strong desire and sometimes revulsion (she's a bit free with her charms). Many of the sonnets meditate on the meaning of life and mortality, as well as beauty and love, and the difficulty of... The Comedy of Errors
Shakespeare was probably younger than 30 when he wrote this early comedy. It's a farcical story of two sets of twins (masters and servants) separated at birth, two warring cities who have declared death to anyone from one who turns up in the other, and lots of mixups due to mistaken identity. Don't expect any great profundity (although some love dialogue between Antipholus of Syracuse and Luciana sounds very much like passages that will turn up a little ...
William Shakespeare novels
The History of King Henry IV, Part I
Prince Hal is afraid of the heavy responsibilities that will weigh upon him when he must assume the throne of England, and he seeks to rebel against the expectations that his father has for his reign by drinking and carousing with the W. C. Fields-like John Falstaff, a drunken, whoring, cowardly knight with a devastating wit and a cynical sense of humor. While they eat, drink, and sport with prostitutes, England comes closer and closer to war. The stor... The Merchant of Venice
In one of Shakespeare's more sober and less antic comedies, the Jewish moneylender Shylock agrees to loan money to a hated business rival, the Christian merchant Antonio, if Antonio will agree to surrender a pound of flesh "nearest his heart" in the event of a default on the loan. Antonio blithely agrees to the deal because he is sure nothing will go wrong, but his ships fail to make their deliveries and he does default. Meanwhile, Antonio's good frien... The Taming of the Shrew
Petruchio is a cocksure gentleman who comes to Padua in seek of a wife, only to get more than he bargained for when he sets his eyes upon the strong-willed Kate. It is Petruchio's friend Hortensio who suggests he court Kate, whose wealthy family will provide a large dowry when she weds. Additionally, Hortensio is in love with Kate's sister Bianca, and she cannot herself get married until her older sister does first. Hortensio prevails on Petruchio to int... The Tempest
Prospero (respected magician), Miranda (daughter), Stephano and Trincilo (courtiers) and a handful of diplomats, all from Milan, are caught in a storm (tempest) and washed up on an enchanted island. They are all separated and as they try to find each other they come across faries, spirits and strange beasts enticing them into circles of confusion (how Shakespearean!) Miranda finds love, the politicians get self-righteous, the courtiers get drunk with t... The Winter's Tale
The Winter's Tale is a Shakespearean romance with a symmetrical division into two halves of tragedy and comedy. The tragic first half takes place almost entirely in Sicilia, where King Polixenes of Bohemia has been a guest of King Leontes for nine months. Polixenes decides to go back home but relents when Hermione, Leontes's pregnant wife, pleads with him to stay longer. Leontes becomes jealous in his belief that Polixenes and Hermione have been lovers, ... Titus Andronicus
Titus returns to Rome after long years at war. He has watched most of his sons die in service to the Empire, and wants only to retire. With him he brings the Queen of the Goths and her sons as prisoners.
It is not long before the Goth Queen seduces the new Emperor, who's covetous ways have already caused trouble for Titus and his family. Soon, Titus finds himself betrayed by the Empire he so diligently served as the Goths slowly drive him insane by...
William Shakespeare information
Troilus and Cressida
The play takes place against the background of the Trojan War. Troilus is a young Trojan prince who falls in love with Cressida, the daughter of a Trojan priest who has betrayed Troy and joined the Greeks. On the Greek side of the war, morale has dropped due to the laziness and insubordination of star soldier Achilles. When Hector, a Trojan prince, challenges any Greek to a one-on-one fight, Ajax is chosen rather than Achilles as an attempt to shame Achi... Twelfth Night
The play centers on the characters Orsino, Duke of Illyria, and the woman he believes he is in love with, Olivia, who is “a rich countess.” After a shipwreck, the twins Sebastian and Viola are separated, and Viola disguises herself as a boy and becomes Orsino's servant, calling herself Cesario. Orsino sends Viola to Olivia to tell of his love, but when Olivia meets Viola, she “falls in love with him,” thinking Viola is indeed a boy. During the course of ...