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The Shakespearian

Shakespeares Works

The Globe
The Theatre
Elizabethan England

A Brief Summary of some of Shakespeares works

Shakespeare’s plays were very popular. This was because he had such a big audience because he wrote so many different types of plays. He wrote comedies, tragedies and histories. In his lifetime, it is believed that William Shakespeare wrote 38 plays. Here is a list of some of them: Henry VIII, Antony and Cleopatra, MacBeth, A Midsummer Night’s dream, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, All’s Well That Ends Well, Julius Caesar, Taming Of The Shrew, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, Timon Of Athens, Henry IV-Part I, The Tempest, The Comedy Of Errors, King John; and Richard III. I could go on forever, but I’ll stop there. Now we will see what categories these plays fall into.





Romeo And Juliet

Henry VIII

Taming Of The Shrew

Timon Of Athens

Richard III

The Tempest


King John

Much Ado About Nothing


Henry IV, Part I

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

King Lear


Measure For Measure

Julius Caesar


Comedy Of Errors



Alls Well That Ends Well

Antony And Cleopatra




Comedy – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

            It all starts with four young lovers. Hermia is in love with Lysander, and Lysander loves Hermia. Demetrius loves Hermia, although she does not feel the same way about him, and Helena, unloved, loves Demetrius. Lysander and Hermia decide to meet up in the woods after nightfall, so Hermia tells Helena, her best friend, and Helena tells Demetrius so this would change the way Demetrius feels about Hermia, and he could then love Helena.

                Meanwhile in the woods Oberon and Titania had been fighting over who can have the young Indian orphan boy as a slave. Oberon sends Puck to find a magic flower that had been struck by one of Cupids bows. Whenever the juices of this flower have been applied to somebody’s eyes, they will fall in love with the first person they see. For revenge, Oberon applies the flower’s juices to the sleeping Tetania’s eyes. Oberon orders Puck to put the flower on Demetrius eyes, so he will fall in love with the woman who loves him, Helena. 

                Lysander and Hermia decide to rest in the woods, and Lysander is told by Hermia to keep a distance from her when they sleep, as they were not married so it was not right for them to be any closer.

                Puck comes in and mistakes Lysander for Demetrius, so he puts the magic flower’s juices on the eyelids of Lysander. Helena sees the distance between the two, and she believes the Lysander is hurt, so she wakes him. Lysander no longer feels for Hermia, as he loves Helena.

                In the woods there are six men rehearsing for a play. Bottom, one of the six men, has his head turned into that of a donkey. Titania, who is just waking, sees bottom and falls in love.

                The two men meet up with Hermia and her friend Helena. Things get heated and a fight is about to start before Oberon puts a stop to it. Lysander wonders off and decides to stop where he is and sleep.  Demetrius decides to rest where he is. Puck puts the magic flower on the eyes of Demetrius. Oberon applies the antidote on Lysander and Titania.

Lysander marries Hermia; and Demetrius marries Helena. The six men perform an impressive play, Bottom has his normal head back, and Titania is no longer in love with him. Everything is as it is meant to be.


Comedy - Taming of the Shrew

It all starts with two sisters, Bianca and Katherina. Bianca is the gentle and attractive girl who everybody dearly loves. Then there is Katherina, who nobody likes because of her wicked ways. So many men want to marry Bianca, but her father Baptisa, forbids Bianca to wed before Katherina. Lucentio desperately wants to marry young Bianca. For him to do so, he must get a man to marry Katherina. He plans to do just this, and the man will be Petrucio.

                To win Bianca’s love, there is a huge identity swap including many characters. Bianca needs a teacher, so Lucentio pretends to be Cambio, a teacher, to spend more time with Bianca. In the absence of Lucentio, Tranio, Lucentio’s servant, pretends to be him. Hortensio is also in love with Bianca, so he pretends to be Litio, a music teacher, to spend more time with Bianca. Lucentio has permission to marry Bianca if he can get his fathers permission. As his father is not in town, Tranio who is the fake Lucentio, goes out and gets a merchant to pretend to be Vincentio, who is Lucentio’s father, to give permission for him to marry Bianca.

                Petrucio ends up courting Katherina, and get married. Petrucio abuses Katherina so that she will listen to, and obey him.

                The real Vincentio comes to Padua, the town in which this is happening. He finds the merchant pretending to be him, and this leads to all the fake identities been lifted. Lucentio wins, and he marries Bianca. Katherina submits to Petrucio and everybody lives happy lives.


Tragedy - Romeo and Juliet

            It begins when Sampson and Gregory fight with Abraham and Balthasar. Benvolio breaks it up, and begins to fight with Tybalt, and an even bigger fight starts. Escalus, with the Capulets and Montagues, enter and stops the big fight. Afterward all this the Montagues speak with Benvolio about Romeo. Romeo follows his parents exit with an entrance and talks with Benvolio about his love life. Paris wishes to marry Juliet. Paris is invited to a ball, which Romeo and Benvolio find out about from Capulet's Servant. Juliet finds out about the ball as well. Romeo and Co. head to the Capulet's ball. At the ball, Romeo and Juliet meet each other, and the Nurse introduces them.
                We find out about Romeo and Juliet's problems. Romeo finds Juliet speaking out of her window. They reveal their love and decide to marry. Friar, Lawrence, gives them his blessing. With help from the Nurse, arrangements are made and the two marry each other.
                Tybalt scares Romeo, and he kills Mercutio, and Romeo then kills him. Romeo runs away, and Benvolio reports what happened to the authorites, and Escalus kicks Romeo out of his house. Juliet cries, but gets a visit from Romeo that same night. Romeo travels away, to a town named
Mantua. Juliet does not want to marry Paris, but she can’t disobey her father.
                Friar Lawrence comes up with a plan in which Juliet will fake her death. He gives her a potion that will put her to sleep for a few days. When she is found dead everyone mourns the loss.
                Friar John was meant to tell Romeo that Juliet is not really dead, but he was unable to do it. Romeo visits the tomb and finds out that
Paris is already there. Romeo kills Paris. Because he is so sad, Romeo kills himself after kissing Juliet. Juliet wakes up as the potion wares off, and sees Romeo dead. She kisses him, and stabs herself, because she is sad. Friar Lawrence explains his mistake to everybody. Montague and Capulet put aside their strife. 

Tragedy- Hamlet

            Several Guards on duty discuss seeing the Ghost of Hamlet's dead father, the king, and then see him again. Gertrude, Hamlet's mother, got remarried to Hamlet's uncle, Claudius. This put the king's murderer on the throne. The courtier Polonius prepares his son, Laertes, for a journey to Paris. He then orders his daughter to stay away from Hamlet, her love, because he fears Hamlet is going mad. The Ghost appears to Hamlet and tells him he wants revenge on Claudius.
                After a while, Hamlet fakes to be crazy, but he can’t as easily trick Claudius as he does to other people. The two both want to kill each other, but both need a reason to justify it. Polonius and Claudius try to trick Hamlet, but Hamlet stays ahead of them. Hamlet meets his old friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and is very happy to see them. However, he quickly realises they are there to spy on him. Hamlet plans to use a play which show's Claudius's crime to prove him guilty.
                Hamlet thinks about killing himself, but Claudius is still not fooled and decides to send Hamlet to
, probably to kill him. The play is done, and Claudius knows that he has to act or he will fall. Polonius asks Gertrude to question Hamlet’s idea. While Gertrude and Hamlet are talking, Hamlet begins to get angry at his mum, but the Ghost reappears and tells Hamlet to remember who it is that he should be angry at. Polonius was listening in from behind the curtain, so Hamlet kills him.
                Laertes is angry at Claudius because he thinks he killed his father. Claudius comes up with a plan to kill Hamlet, who is back in
Denmark because he escaped death in England with help from pirates.

                Hamlet finds out from a gravedigger that Ophelia is dead, and after seeing her funeral, he tells people about how he loved her. Laertes challenges him to a match, but they do not fight yet. They go back to the castle for a jousting match where the Queen drinks a poisoned glass meant for Hamlet. Laertes hurts Hamlet and then Hamlet kills Laertes. As Laertes is dieing, he tells people about Claudius's evilness. Hamlet kills Claudius, and then Hamlet dies because Laertes was fighting with a poisoned sword. Before his death, Hamlet tells Horatio to give authority to the Fortinbras, who plan on attacking.


History- Richard II

            This play begins with an argument between Bolingbroke and The Duke of Norfolk. Richard wants John of Guant, Bolingbroke's dad, to break it up, but when he can’t he says they will have to solve it themselves. Richard ignores this idea. Instead he bans Mowbray for life and Bolingbroke for ten years.
                Gaunt dies after insulting Richard. The King says he will put his money towards helping his war with
Ireland. Northumberland finds out that Bolingbroke is returning to England with an army to overtake Richard. He himself, York and Willoughby
, join him. Richard's troops under the orders of Earl of Salisbury stop because they think that Richard is dead.
                Bolingbroke murders Bushy and Green. These two men were both loyal to the King. Richard returns to
England happily after defeating the Irish, but loses his happiness when he finds out that he has lost his troops and Bolingbroke will defeat him. Bolingbroke discovers that Richard is nearby in Berkeley Castle
. He goes and asks Richard to surrender, and he does.
                The Bishop of Carlisle slowly lets Bolingbroke take over his castle. After a dramatic speech Bolingbroke, now known as King Henry IV sends Richard to the Tower.                         Richard's loving and sad wife sees him on his way to detention. Aumerle along with others devise a plan, but his father
York finds out and tells. Aumerle is allowed to live, but the others are not. Exton kills Richard, but the new king is not happy with this, so he decides to start a crusade to make him feel better.


History- King Henry IV, Part 1

            This play comes after Richard II. It begins when King Henry puts off his planned crusade because Westmoreland's says there is battles at home. Hotspur and Prince Hal show their dislikes towards each other. Prince Hal is the son of King Henry and Hotspur is the son of Westmoreland, who will eventually try to kill the King. In a tavern Hal and Falstaff start a war of their brains, and then Poins enters and plans with Hal to use a robbery to embarrass Falstaff. At Windsor Castle, Hotspur refuses to give the King prisoners he has captured. Worcester, along with some other people begins planning on how they can overtake the King.
                Falstaff and others rob pilgrims that are travelling past. They are then robbed by Poins and Hal who are disguised.. Falstaff returns to the tavern and tells the story of what happened to Poins and Hal. He does not know that they are playing a trick on him. Hal hides Falstaff from the sheriff, who comes looking for him, to stop him from saying anything. Hotspur gets news of when the rebellion will happen. He makes sure not to tell his wife, who is asking questions.
                The King punishes Hal for his behaviour, so Hal promises to be good, even though he had originally planned to be bad. He was planning on doing this so that he could eventually look much better. Hal gives Falstaff a part in the royal forces.
                The men playing the trick get a blow when they find out that the Earl of Northumberland is very sick, so they will not get any help from his forces. The royal army is now coming towards them and Glendower's forces are, as well as the Earl of Northumberland, unable to help the rebellion. Falstaff admits that he has wasted his money and hired beggars for his battalion, which would lead them to their deaths.
                It is very likely that the rebel’s forces will definitely lose, and the King will offer
Worcester amnesty for all if they will surrender. He does not trust the King and tells Hotspur that they must fight. Prince Hal saves the King, and gives himself a good name, by killing Douglas. Hal fights Hotspur. Hotspur dies and Falstaff takes credit for killing him, which takes the hope away from the rebels. The rebellion continues into part two of King Henry IV.


For all you need to know about Shakespeare