I Read Every Shakespeare Play – Here’s My Takeaway

If you’ve been keeping up with my wrap-ups, you’ll know that I’ve been reading Shakespeare borderline obsessively for the past few months. And now, seven years after I read my first Shakespeare play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in English class, I can finally say: I DID IT!!!

I have read all 39 plays in the Arden Shakespeare series, 38 of which are generally (at least partially) attributed to Shakespeare. The 39th play was Double Falsehood by Lewis Theobald, which was included in the collection because several critics suspect it might be the lost Shakespeare play Cardenio. Obviously, I had to read that for the sake of completeness, too!

So, anyway, since many of you have been following my Shakespeare journey for a while now, I thought I might sum up how reading all these plays has transformed me into a more sophisticated reader ๐Ÿง Okay, kidding! I’m currently buddy reading Midnight Sun with a friend, so that should tell you everything you need to know about my reading tastes…

But reading Shakespeare’s complete works was still a cool experience that I want to share with you! So before we get into my ranking of all the plays, here are a few general thoughts:

Why did I do this?

read new york GIF

Well, my surface-level reason is “exam preparation”. One month from now, I will be taking the Staatsexamen, an enormous series of tests you have to pass if you want to become a teacher in Bavaria. For English, that also encompasses an exam on British and American literature. The way this works is that you get to pick one of twelve questions, each of which focuses on a specific form (drama, poetry, narrative and expository texts) within a certain time frame. Since the questions are extremely specific and the required reading list is endlessly long for all the topics, you are highly encouraged to specialize in two or three of them…

Being the idiot that I am, I thought: Okay, well, why don’t I use this as an opportunity to read all the really old stuff I don’t know that much about yet? Why don’t I choose the time periods from which I have read the fewest books so far? I love to learn, really wanted to get to more of the classics, and reading all of Shakespeare had always intrigued me anyway. So I went for “Dramatic Texts until 1700” as one of my specialist topics, despite only having read three Shakespeare plays up to that point (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, and The Tempest)…

Was it a dumb decision? Maybe. In terms of the exam, I would probably have saved myself a lot of work if I went for a contemporary specialist topic, since I’d already read a lot more of the books on the list.

But then again, the closer we get to our own time, the more diverse literature gets! There are thousands of different genres and topics now! What if they gave me a work I didn’t understand? Like Finnegan’s Wake or something? *shudders*

Also, each topic always includes a weirdly specific comparison question – something like “Compare the way diaspora in Jamaica is dealt with in in this passage to at least three other texts by Black authors in the early 2000s”. Just because you’ve read all the required reading, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to answer the questions if you haven’t also read beyond the list. What would I do if I didn’t know any books with elements that they wanted? The chance of that happening is 1000 times bigger with modern literature, just because there is so much MORE of it.

So yeah, overall, I still think my topic choices weren’t the worst, either ๐Ÿ˜‰

If I did this for exam preparation, wasn’t my reading experience awful? This was required reading, after all…

william shakespeare no GIF by Look Human

Most definitely not! Reading all these plays was 100% worth it! Granted, I didn’t like all of them, but I learned so much from reading them – I understand so much more about the time period, so many literary references, and the histories definitely helped me brush up on British history. And the language ๐Ÿ˜ It’s so beautiful, and often funny, and once you’ve read a few of the plays, you start to understand it so much better. Don’t give up if you’re hopelessly lost at first! Trust me, it gets better!

And then there are the good plays, the ones that make all the crappy ones worthwhile. The ones that go into amazing depth and tackle themes that are still so relevant today, like Othello or Richard III, for example. Or the hopelessly funny ones like Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing or The Merry Wives of Windsor. You can most definitely still enjoy Shakespeare today!

Is Shakespeare overrated?

william shakespeare GIF by will herring

Maybe yes, maybe no? Shakespeare definitely has a couple of gems, but, let’s be honest, he wrote some pretty shitty stuff, too. And I’d say a lot of his contemporary playwrights can definitely compete with him. Marlowe, Kyd, Fletcher, Jonson, Ford, Middleton, Tourneur, Behn, Congreve, Dryden… A lot of their plays are certainly on par with Shakespeare’s stuff. In fact, my favorite pre-18th century play wasn’t one of Shakespeare’s at all, but John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi. It’s sooo good! ๐Ÿ˜

However, you can’t deny that out of all of these people, Shakespeare has had the biggest influence. Heck, he’s probably had the biggest influence ANY one person has ever had on literature! There are so many references to his works in other books and plays, no matter what time period they were written in, and there are even a bunch of sayings that were coined by him. Did you know that the phrases “star-crossed lovers” and “wild-goose chase” can be traced back to Romeo and Juliet?

Anyway, once you read all the plays, you suddenly see Shakespeare EVERYWHERE. It’s kind of creepy, to be honest…

Got any tips for people who want to get into Shakespeare and don’t know where to start?

william shakespeare GIF

Don’t you worry, I’ve got you! Of course I do ๐Ÿ˜‰

Tip #1

Some good plays to start with are Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, or Macbeth.

Those are all fairly easy to understand without much background knowledge, and all really good! Of course, if another play interests you more, feel free to go for that one – I think the best way to start is to pick something that sounds intriguing to YOU!

I wouldn’t necessarily begin with one of the histories, though – you probably do need to do a bit of supplementary historical research there…

Tip #2

Don’t get discouraged if you feel hopelessly lost at first! The language is very different from the English spoken today, and the plays include a ton of references to contemporary events or beliefs that you’ve probably never heard of.

That’s why it’s totally fine – and encouraged! – to look things up! I do not believe a single one of those pretentious people who say that they fully understood a Shakespeare play without any background reading.

Personally, when I was starting out, I would read the Sparknotes summary of every scene immediately after the scene itself, just to make sure that I’d fully understood what was going on. And Sparknotes also gives you a decent bit of historical background, as well.

Then, afterwards, I would read up on what critics had to say. Some books that I found super helpful were The English Renaissance by Andrew Hadfield or Ina Schabert’s Shakespeare Handbuch, though unfortunately, I think that last one is only available in German.

However, it does get better! Once you’ve read a few plays, you start to know things. You know what the Essex rebellion was and how that shaped the histories. You know to expect corruption from all those evil Catholic countries. You know more than you’d like about Elizabethan and Jacobean innuendo, and suddenly, you can’t unsee how vulgar some of these plays really are…

Tip #3

Find a friend who also wants to get into Shakespeare and buddy read! Honestly, my study group made this experience so much more fun! They didn’t mind if we veered off topic because I needed to go on a 20-minute rant about how awful Cleopatra was. Or showed me wholesome videos of Patrick Stewart talking about the bumps on a B or Stephen Fry prancing around in yellow tights. That made everything so much better!

Tip #4

Go watch the plays! Shakespeare was meant to be seen on stage, not read. And it shows. If you actually see these in a theater – trust me, you will know what’s going on, even if you don’t know anything about the historical background or intertextual references. The actors will make things come to life for you!

None of my reading experiences of these plays can in any way compete with the actual performances I’ve seen. So if you take any of these tips to heart, let it be this one! In fact, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to go see one of the plays before you actually read one. That way, you can go into them more open-mindedly. They aren’t old and stuffy, they are timeless!

The Plays

twelfth night theatre GIF by Tony Awards

And finally, to top this off, here is my ranking of the plays from least favorite to favorite. Don’t take this too seriously though – I feel pretty equally about many of them, and I’m sure if you asked me on a different day, the order I’d give wouldn’t be exactly the same. Still, it should give you some idea as to what my overall thoughts on them are ๐Ÿ˜‰

To make it more fun, I’ve also included a one sentence review for each play, as well as the three emojis that I think describe it best. Because who doesn’t love emojis? ๐Ÿ˜Š

The Two Noble Kinsmen ๐Ÿ‘ฌ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’ช – Chaucer’s version of this story is heaps better, but still not good.

King Henry VIII ๐Ÿ‘ธ๐Ÿ˜ข๐Ÿ‘ถ – Sycophantic boringness that sucks up to Elizabeth I and James I like nobody’s business and doesn’t even include all the wives or the Reformation.

The Taming of the Shrew ๐Ÿ™Ž๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ‘ฐ – Has a promising frame narrative that completely disappears to make way for misogyny in its most saturated form – I don’t care if you say it’s actually a parody of social norms; that isn’t evident from the text, and Katherine’s final speech just about made me barf.

Troilus and Cressida โคโ›บ๐Ÿ’” – The most boring account of the Trojan War that I’ve ever read (and that includes my Latin textbook)…

Titus Andronicus ๐Ÿ—ก๐Ÿ—ก๐Ÿฐ – A massacre if I ever saw one.

Antony and Cleopatra ๐Ÿ‘Šโ›ต๐Ÿ˜ฑ – Antony is an idiot, and did all these critics who think Cleopatra is a strong female character read a totally different play?

Coriolanus ๐ŸŒพ๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿ—ก – An interesting companion read to The Hunger Games, but as far as Shakespeare plays go, this has got to be one of the more forgettable ones…

Double Falsehood ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿ – At least one guy finally realizes the cross-dressing girl is not actually a boy in this one.

Timon of Athens ๐Ÿ’ธ๐Ÿ’Ž๐Ÿ˜  – Timon’s fake friends take advantage of his generosity, so Timon leaves and sits around in a forest, hates people, and nothing else really happens after that.

Love’s Labour’s Lost ๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ง๐Ÿ˜ – Four scholars promise to stay away from women, so obviously all they do is run after them for the entire duration of the play.

King Henry IV, Part 2 ๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿ—ก๐Ÿ‘‘ – King Henry IV, Part 1, but worse.

As You Like It ๐Ÿ‘จโ€โค๏ธโ€๐Ÿ’‹โ€๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿ“œ๐ŸŒฒ – Lots of lovesick people run around a forest, but it’s not as good as A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

King John ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡งโ›ช๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท – A bunch of clerics and rulers with mommy issues are idiots.

King Henry VI, Part 2 ๐Ÿ’ฎ๐ŸŒน๐Ÿ‘‘ – Richard Plantagenet starts being naughty, but at the moment, Jack Cade is the bigger problem.

King Henry VI, Part 1 ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿน – Joan of Arc did not deserve that ending!

All’s Well That End’s Well ๐Ÿ‘ซ๐Ÿ”•๐Ÿ’ – Vulgar like nobody’s business, but Parolles is awesome!

The Winter’s Tale ๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿป๐Ÿ’ – Paranoid husband is responsible for a missing daughter and statue-wife, but THE BEAR, you guys!

The Tempest ๐Ÿƒโ›ต๐Ÿ˜ – Prospero is a power-hungry control freak, Ariel doesn’t mind, and Caliban might be the only one who thinks for himself.

Pericles ๐Ÿ“ƒโ›ต๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘ง – Lots of bad things happen because Pericles couldn’t keep his nose out of other people’s incest.

King Henry IV, Part 1 ๐Ÿบ๐Ÿ—ก๐Ÿ‘‘ – Falstaff, I love you!

Hamlet ๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿค”๐Ÿท – I thought I was indecisive, but Hamlet takes it to a whole other level – and can we talk about the wasted opportunity that was that pirate subplot?

Romeo and Juliet ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿถ๐Ÿ˜ฑ – Everyone (especially the parents) is dumb, but Juliet’s nurse is priceless!

Cymbeline ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐ŸŒฒ – Imogen is really cool, but boy, her family and love life are messed up!

Two Gentlemen of Verona ๐Ÿ‘ฌ๐ŸŽถ๐Ÿ‘ฐ – Thanks to the dog and Julia, this is further up on this list than it probably should be with that absolutely stupid ending.

King Richard II ๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ—จ๐Ÿ—ก – If people had just let Richard become a poet instead of a ruler, they would have spared their country a lot of death.

King Lear ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘ง๐ŸŒฒ๐Ÿ˜ฑ – Nihilistic like you wouldn’t believe, so obviously I liked it.

King Henry V ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ—ก– Lots of insight on power and really funny language jokes!

The Merry Wives of Windsor ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚๐ŸŒณ – All I ever needed was to see Falstaff dumped in the Thames and beaten up while dressed as a woman, so thank you for (allegedly) requesting this, Queen Elizabeth I!

Measure for Measure ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ”—๐Ÿ‘ฐ – Maybe Vincentio didn’t pick the best way to solve the problem of corruption and illicit sexual activity in his city…

The Comedy of Errors ๐Ÿ‘ฌ๐Ÿ‘ฌโ” – Lots of twins with the same name get confused with one another and it’s hilarious.

Julius Caesar ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ”ช๐Ÿ—ก – It’s so typical that this gets named after the power-hungry dictator when this is really a story about poor, misunderstood Brutus…

Macbeth ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘ง๐Ÿ™‹๐Ÿ˜ฑ – Scotland, witches, ghosts, and a power-hungry wife – sign me up!

King Richard III ๐Ÿ—ฃ๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ—ก – Has a pretty stupid deus ex machina ending, but evil Richard more than made up for it!

King Henry VI, Part 3 ๐Ÿ’ฎ๐ŸŒน๐Ÿ—ก – Why did no one tell me how much evil Richard this had? ๐Ÿ˜

Much Ado About Nothing ๐Ÿ‘ซ๐Ÿ˜ก๐Ÿ‘ฐ – Beatrice and Benedick are the best!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream ๐ŸŒฒ๐Ÿด๐ŸŽญ – The play within the play is the best thing ever! ๐Ÿ˜

The Merchant of Venice ๐Ÿ—ƒ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€โš–๏ธ – Can I just mention how much I love Shylock, Portia, and Antonio? ๐Ÿ˜Š

(DISCLAIMER: Personally, I read Shylock as the tragic hero of this story and thought the play did a great job of addressing how unfairly Jews were treated in Europe at the time. However, I am aware that it can also be read in a very antisemitic context (to be honest, the way Shylock’s character can be interpreted is extremely dependent on how this play is staged), so I do think this play has problematic aspects that you should definitely be aware of when going into it. )

Twelfth Night โ›ต๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿ‘ฆ – Hilarious, and Viola rocks!

Othello ๐ŸŸข๐Ÿ‘๏ธ๐Ÿ˜ˆ– Absolutely amazing! Iago is the worst, and Othello and Desdemona did not deserve this! If you want to understand the horrible consequences of jealousy and racism, this is not a bad place to look. (I know that was three sentences, but I think I can bend the rules a little for my favorite Shakespeare play ๐Ÿ˜‰)

So anyway, that’s it for today!

Have you read or seen any of these plays? And if yes, what did you think of them? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

47 thoughts on “I Read Every Shakespeare Play – Here’s My Takeaway

  1. Line says:

    This is so comprehensive and helpful! I’ve only read A Midsummer Night’s Dream but you might have inspired me to try something else. You mention Othello as a good starting point and your favorite so I guess I have to try that one ๐Ÿ™‚
    Really hope all of that reading helps you on your test because that sounds intimidating :O

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Oh yes, I’d love to see what you think of Othello! ๐Ÿ˜Š Everyone I’ve talked to so far seems to have completely different opinions on it ๐Ÿ˜‚ I think how you perceive it also depends a lot on the context you first read/see it in and how you work with the text, though. I actually wrote a term paper on it for one of my classes, and fell even more in love during the process ๐Ÿ˜ But I don’t know anyone else who is anywhere near as obsessed with this play as I am ๐Ÿ˜‚ So I’d be really interested to hear what you think! Especially since the tragedies have a very different vibe to them than the comedies do…

      And thank you!! I really hope it helps, too! I am definitely very intimidated ๐Ÿ˜…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. E. @localbeehuntersnook says:

    I absolutely love this post!! I saw A Midsummer Nightโ€™s Dream recently on youtube (The Globe shared it as a part of coronavirus culture exchange or something) and it was hilarious! The human couples! The donkey! The gay kiss!! Could be gayer though…

    I also read Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet and it was a cool experience — they get even more interesting after you learn some context and the language is something to get used to but beautiful โค

    Liked by 2 people

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Oh yes, Bottom is the best! ๐Ÿ˜Š I’ve actually seen two productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but they were both done by smaller, local theater troupes, so I might have to check and see if that Globe production is still available on YouTube… A Midsummer Night’s Dream is definitely among the most hilarious Shakespeare plays! ๐Ÿ˜‚ And regarding that kiss: homoeroticism is actually a very prevalent thing in Shakespeare. He always teases the gayness (in The Merchant of Venice and Twelfth Night especially), but apart from Achilles and Patroclus in Troilus and Cressida, it never actually goes anywhere, which can be so frustrating! ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Anyway, I’m so glad you liked the post! I agree, once you get used to the language, you can’t help but notice how beautiful it is!! ๐Ÿ˜

      Liked by 2 people

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Thank you!! And sadly, I think there’s quite some truth to that… Although I was pretty lucky regarding most of my professors – many of them were so well read that it was almost intimidating! But those were also the teachers who ended up inspiring me the most ๐Ÿ˜Š


  3. Nefeli says:

    I admire you for reading all of the Bard’s works! I took a semester-long class in university (it’s obligatory if you’re studying English language and literature in Greece) and it was one of my favourite classes overall. It’s so interesting to read what you have to do to become an English Teacher in Germany, quite different than what we do here. Doing what you did on this post is one of my life-long reading goals!

    So far my favourite of his plays is Hamlet, which I’ve both seen and read. Midsummer night’s dream was my first contact with Shakespeare in high school when I watched it in the theatre and it was even funnier when we studied it in uni. I’ve also read many of his sonnets, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest and watched Macbeth and the Comedy of Errors (our national theatre performs at least two Shakespeare plays each year with amazing productions).

    Your list is very interesting and the mini reviews are hilarious! Your comment on Coriolanus especially made me snort.

    Liked by 2 people

    • abookowlscorner says:

      It’s really interesting to hear how you do things in Greece! We do have to take several introductory classes to British and American literature that also cover Shakespeare in Germany, but he is only one small part of the course. That means you can actually get away with only reading two of his plays and a few sonnets during your entire time at university ๐Ÿ˜‰ We do have seminars on Shakespeare as well, but I decided to go with things like Australian literature, contemporary British drama and utopian fiction instead, so I never took those classes. I think that’s one reason why they make the reading list for the final exam so extensive – they just want us to read a lot more than we do in the actual classes… It’s so cool that you had a more in-depth study of the plays and sonnets – I’m kind of jealous, actually ๐Ÿ˜

      And yes, I think it makes a huge difference when you also see the plays! I can imagine Hamlet is a lot more impressive that way; so far, I’ve only read it. And it seems A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a very popular introduction to Shakespeare among European English teachers! ๐Ÿ˜ I do think it’s a good choice to start with, though. And I am so jealous of your national theater! Though I guess we have some pretty good ones here, too – I just live so far away from the bigger cities that a trip always requires lots of planning and spare time…

      And I’m glad you liked the reviews! ๐Ÿ˜Š Confining myself to one sentence was actually a lot harder than I thought!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. R A I N says:

    THIS IS ONE OF THE PRETTIEST, WITTIEST, AND HEARTWARMING POSTS EVERR!!! I LOVE THIS SOO MUCH, Naemi! โค โค โค I mean – okay fine some of Marlowe's and Jonson's plays were better than his – FOR SURE – but you know I never read them with the kind of interest Shakesy's writing aroused, I don't know why! xD Call it prejudice (I AM a big fan of Pride and Prejudice after all ;p xD) BUT I JUST – I LOVEEE HIMM!!! AND IT MAKES ME SOOO SOOO HAPPY THAT YOU HAVE FINALLY READ IT ALL! And that Hamlet gif in the beginning! THAT WAS PURE GOLD! xD โค โค

    For me, personally, his sonnets and other poems are better than some of his more historical plays! But you have made me realize that I am still a beginner in this realm and I need to revisit the classic plays soon!


    Liked by 2 people

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Aww, I’m glad you liked it!! ๐Ÿ˜Š And I’m so happy you are a fellow Shakespeare fan! โค You’re right – even though other playwrights have written things that might be better, none of them have absolutely captured my attention in the way Shakespeare has. I mean, I didn’t become obsessed trying to read their collected works, at least not yet ๐Ÿ˜ And that might be due to Shakespeare’s cult status, but I really think it’s more than that! I just love the way he uses language ๐Ÿ˜

      And the histories actually really grew on me, especially once I’d read all of them and understood the context better. And oh my, don’t get me started on Richard III ๐Ÿ˜ I am so obsessed with his villainy that something might be seriously wrong with me. I mean, I am basically gushing over the soliloquies of an insane murderer here…

      Oh, and I totally rephrased that headline-question so I could use the Hamlet GIF ๐Ÿ˜‰ It was too perfect an opportunity to waste! ๐Ÿ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      I get that you might need a break from him after school, sometimes required reading can be quite tiresome ๐Ÿ™ˆ I’d still highly recommend seeing one of his plays on stage if you ever get the chance, though! ๐Ÿ˜Š


  5. dearbookshelves says:

    This is a really helpful post. I’ve read Hamlet, R&J, JC, and The Tempest (maybe my fav). I have a weird relationship with Shakespeare because it can be really inaccessible but I generally enjoy the stories after I know what’s going on. I read Hamlet for my comprehensive exam for my Master’s and definitely liked it better the second time around.

    Liked by 2 people

    • abookowlscorner says:

      I’m glad you found it helpful! ๐Ÿ˜Š
      And I totally get what you mean – honestly, Sparknotes was my savior when I was just starting out because I didn’t understand so many things!! ๐Ÿ˜‚ But then, as my understanding gradually grew, I fell in love! Actually seeing performances of some the plays was also super helpful in that regard. I had no problem understanding what was going on then, and realized these plays actually had a lot to offer ๐Ÿ˜

      Liked by 1 person

      • dearbookshelves says:

        Yes! I think so much of what we have now can be traced back to his work. And I agree that watching is really helpful. I remember watching the Romeo & Juliet (the one with Leo DiCaprio) film after we read the play in 9th grade and it made way more sense!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Emer @alittlehazebookblog says:

    Iโ€™m just gonna bring down the tone of the comments and freak out about B or not a B! HOW HAD I NEVER SEEN THAT SESAME STREET CLIP BEFORE? itโ€™s absolutely brilliant. I bow to you though, like dang thatโ€™s commitment. Iโ€™m sad that you think Troilus and Cressida isnโ€™t great though because Iโ€™m super curious to read that one. I just like reading ALL of the Trojan war books ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜…

    Liked by 2 people

    • abookowlscorner says:

      I know, right?! Isn’t it just the most wholesome thing ever? ๐Ÿ˜Š I absolutely lost it when he started philosophizing about the B’s straight back and the bumps… And of course, it’s Patrick Stewart and I am a HUGE Star Trek fan, so it got even more bonus points for that ๐Ÿ˜‚

      And maybe still give Troilus and Cressida a try, you might like it more than me! Ulysses has some pretty impressive speeches and the whole discussion surrounding Achilles’s refusal to fight is kind of funny – so it’s not all bad! I just thought it was kind of boring, but then again, I had just come from reading a bunch of Shakespeare plays in a row and already knew a lot about the Trojan War… Maybe I was just overexposed to these topics, so it failed to surprise me ๐Ÿ˜…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. universewithinpages says:

    I’m so glad to hear that your required reading ended up being fun! I’ve read Shakespeare plays for school before, and I totally agree that reading the Sparknotes helps with your understanding (and I’ve admittedly used the modern-day english translations to help with specific lines as well)!

    I absolutely loved your mini summaries too! They were so fun to read, and I especially agree with them for the few plays I have finished!

    Liked by 2 people

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Oh yes, those modern-day translations saved my life when we had to analyse specific scenes back in school! Thankfully, I’ve gotten a bit better at understanding what Shakespeare meant by now, but everyone once in a while, I’ll still use the translations to double check ๐Ÿ˜‰

      And I’m glad you liked the mini summaries – those were my favorite part to write ๐Ÿ˜Š


  8. Shans_Shelves says:

    I love this post! Honestly youโ€™ve made me want to go read Macbeth and Re read Othello- which I also loved. The Merchant of Venice is another favourite. Portia was so badass!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      I’m so glad you also loved Othello!!! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Š Most people I know who’ve also read it are a little mystified as to why it’s my favorite…
      And yes, Portia is so cool! She totally killed it in that court – now that’s the kind of bad-assery I want to see more of ๐Ÿ˜Š
      I also hope you like Macbeth if you do decide to read it! It’s such an atmospheric play and I love how it integrates the Scottish landscape into the plot.


  9. Bon Repos Gites says:

    An entertaining read and wonderful reviews! One thing that I only fully appreciated after revisiting Shakespeare as an adult was how much the language has changed since the early 17thC and how that makes such a difference to the reading experience. While so many words are the same, their pronunciation has altered immensely so passages that jar nowadays likely rhymed when written.
    Good luck with your examination!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! ๐Ÿ˜Š
      I find language change fascinating, too – I would love to be able to travel about 400 years to the future, just to see what people sound like then! And I will never cease to be fascinated by pairs of words that English borrowed twice (like eye/egg, shirt/skirt, turtle/tortoise), and how you can use sound changes to figure out at what time they must have been borrowed… It’s so cool! So I really liked that aspect of reading Shakespeare as well ๐Ÿ™ƒ
      And thank you! I can use all the luck I can get!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. vee_bookish says:

    Random recommendation from this Brit for anyone getting into ol‘ Shakey – watch them on Youtube! The RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) are the ones to look out for, you can find a whole bunch of things and full plays just by searching for them.
    One of the greatest adaptations of a few Shakepeare plays is The Hollow Crown series, with some VERY famous actors: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngNXFbTwZZ4 (The narrator is Ben Whishaw, I’m a huge fan of him). This series has Tom Hiddleston, Julie Walters and Benedict Cumberbatch.
    Also, this clip is hilarious and shows the various ways Shakespeare’s lines can be interpreted in a fun way (and features the literal future King Of England): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEs8rK5Cqt8

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      I definitely second this recommendation – I love The Hollow Crown series!! ๐Ÿ˜Š So thank you for commenting and including those super-helpful links! โค
      Unfortunately, I can’t watch the second one, though – YouTube tells me it’s “not available in my present location”… Sometimes, you just gotta love Germany’s strict copyright and data protection laws ๐Ÿ™„ Maybe I’ll figure out how to create a vpn eventually, but until then, I hope other people can enjoy the video!!


  11. Hsinju @ Hsinju's Lit Log says:

    Oh wow, I love this post!! I personally shook with anger while reading Othello. It was soooo good. Plus, my brain likes to randomly quote it. Thank you so much for writing this and everything you said especially those one-sentence summaries of each play are absolutely priceless!

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Oh, yes – Othello makes me furious, too! It reminds me of so many things that are still, even hundreds of years after this was written, wrong in our society. Why can’t people just get along and be nice to each other? Why does there have to be so much hatred and mistrust? ๐Ÿ˜ฅ I love the way the play makes you question these things!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. urlphantomhive says:

    This is such a great post! I have been thinking about reading all Shakespeare’s play, but still need to make the actual plans.
    Back when there was no Covid19, I would go to London each summer and see Shakespeare performed at the Globe. All in all, I think I have seen about a dozen of the plays (and a couple more from NT Live @home during the pandemic) and I have been enjoying them a lot. The atmosphere and the whole theater experience are great. I’ve read a couple of the plays after I have seen them, and a few for school as well, but I would like to do something more comprehensive.
    And I think that plays before <1700 is a very nice specialization. Best of luck with it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      I’m so glad you liked the post ๐Ÿ˜Š If you want to read all the plays, I really think the hardest part is deciding to start ๐Ÿ˜‰ Once you commit and immerse yourself in the language, it’s actually a lot easier to stay motivated than I had originally thought!

      And I am so jealous of your Globe experiences – I was in London about two years ago when they were showing Othello, and didn’t manage to get tickets in time ๐Ÿ˜ข It was such a disappointment! But maybe I’ll get another chance someday post Covid19 ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

      • urlphantomhive says:

        I saw that production of Othello! Not to add to your injury but it was great! We saw it was completely sold out, but we always get our tickets way in advance and it is only two hours by Eurostar from where I live so it is relatively close. If you’re ever once more in London you should really try to see a performance in the Globe as a groundling. It is a completely different experience from the other theaters. ๐Ÿ˜Š

        Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Oh yes, that pie scene was beyond macabre! To be fair, though, I doubt it gets much more gruesome than Titus Andronicus ๐Ÿ˜
      And you probably haven’t heard of Double Falsehood because scholars are still arguing about whether it is a Shakespeare play or not – the “author” Lewis Theobald claimed it was, and several critics think it might be Shakespeare’s Cardenio, but no one really knows for sure…

      Liked by 1 person

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