“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.” – Shakespeare
Here are 5 plays of William Shakespeare that you should read cause it’s worth it.
Romeo and Juliet
The most famous scene in this play, written in the mid-1590s, is the ‘balcony’ scene – though there has been some debate about whether it would have originally contained a balcony when originally performed. (Shakespeare simply has Juliet appearing ‘at a window’ in the stage directions.) Nevertheless, Romeo and Juliet has captured the world’s imagination as a classic tale of doomed young lovers (though the story, as with most of Shakespeare’s plays, wasn’t originated by the Bard himself, but adapted from earlier sources). Thousands of Valentines are written to ‘Juliet’ each year in Verona.
Based on a real king and queen of Scotland named Mac Bethad mac Findlaích and Gruoch, Macbeth was composed shortly after the Gunpowder Plot of November 1605, the Catholic conspiracy to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London and, with them, King James I of England. James, of course, was already King James VI of Scotland when he came to the English throne in 1603, and he claimed descent from Banquo – hence the prophecy surrounding Banquo’s descendants in the play. In 1849, the play caused a riot in New York, which arose after two rival actors fell out.
This play, which opens with the titular king preparing to divide his kingdom up between his three daughters Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia, was based on an earlier play about ‘King Leir’, king of ancient Britain. In the original chronicle on which that earlier play was itself based, the story has a happy ending – but Shakespeare saw the potential for tragedy in this tale of parents, children, siblings, and civil war. The play also, somewhat pleasingly, contains the earliest known reference to a ‘football player’ – though footballers weren’t paid nearly as much in Shakespeare’s day.
Based on an earlier play, now sadly lost, Hamlet is often considered Shakespeare’s masterpiece. It certainly marked a turning point in his development as a playwright, seen in the more intense and psychologically complex soliloquies spoken by the title character. Composed in around 1600-1, Hamlet has received the somewhat unusual honour of being translated into Klingon. The Klingon Hamlet, whose full title is The Tragedy of Khamlet, Son of the Emperor of Qo’noS, was translated by Nick Nicholas and Andrew Strader of the ‘Klingon Shakespeare Restoration Project’, using the fictional language from the television series Star Trek. Is this Shakespeare’s best play of all? T. S. Eliot didn’t think so, as he argued in his 1919 essay on Hamlet.
Often read as Shakespeare’s farewell to the London stage, this play was first performed in 1611 and was, indeed, the last play Shakespeare wrote entirely on his own. After writing this play about a shipwreck and a magical island, Shakespeare went on to collaborate with John Fletcher on several plays, including Henry VIII, The Two Noble Kinsmen, and the lost play Cardenio, based on a story from Cervantes’ Don Quixote.
Source: Interesting Literature