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William Shakespeare

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All's Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare

The play opens in Rousillon, a province of France, where young Count Bertram bids farewell to his mother the Countess and Helena, as he leaves for the court in Paris (with old Lord Lafew) at the King's order. Bertram's father has recently died and Bertram is to be the King's ward and attendant. Helena, a young minor noblewoman and ward of the Countess, whose father (a...

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

The play features three interlocking plots, connected by a celebration of the wedding of Duke Theseus of Athens and the Amazon queen, Hippolyta, and set simultaneously in the woodland, and in the realm of Fairyland, under the light of the moon.

Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare

Mark Antony - one of the Triumvirs of Rome along with Octavian and Lepidus - has neglected his soldierly duties after being beguiled by Egypt's Queen, Cleopatra. He ignores Rome's domestic problems, including the fact that his third wife Fulvia rebelled against Octavian and then died. Octavian calls Antony back to Rome from Alexandria in order to help him fight against...

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Set in the Kingdom of Denmark, the play dramatizes the revenge Prince Hamlet exacts on his uncle Claudius for murdering King Hamlet, Claudius's brother and Prince Hamlet's father, and then succeeding to the throne and taking as his wife Gertrude, the old king's widow and Prince Hamlet's mother. The play vividly portrays both true and feigned madness - from overwhelming...

Henry IV by William Shakespeare

Henry Bolingbroke - now King Henry IV - is having an unquiet reign. His personal disquiet at the means whereby he gained the crown - by deposing Richard II - would be solved by a journey or crusade to the Holy Land to fight Muslims, but broils on his borders with Scotland and Wales prevent that. Moreover, his guilt causes him to mistreat the Earls Northumberland and...

Henry V by William Shakespeare

The early scenes deal with the embarkation of Henry's fleet for France, and include a real-life incident in which the Earl of Cambridge and two others plotted to assassinate Henry at Southampton. Henry's clever uncovering of the plot and ruthless treatment of the plotters is one indication that he has changed from the earlier plays in which he appeared.

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Marcus Brutus is Caesar's close friend and a Roman praetor. Brutus allows himself to be cajoled into joining a group of conspiring senators because of a growing suspicion - implanted by Caius Cassius - that Caesar intends to turn republican Rome into a monarchy under his own rule. The early scenes deal mainly with Brutus's arguments with Cassius and his struggle with his...

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

At Messina, a messenger brings news that Don Pedro, a Spanish prince from Aragon, and his officers, Claudio and Benedick, have returned from a successful battle. Leonato, the governor of Messina, welcomes the messenger and announces that Don Pedro and his men will stay for a month. Beatrice, Leonato's niece, asks the messenger about Benedick, and makes sarcastic remarks...

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

The play, set in Verona, begins with a street brawl between Montague and Capulet supporters who are sworn enemies. The Prince of Verona intervenes and declares that further breach of the peace will be punishable by death. Later, Count Paris talks to Capulet about marrying his daughter, but Capulet is wary of the request because Juliet is only thirteen. Capulet asks Paris to...

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

Bassanio, a young Venetian of noble rank, wishes to woo the beautiful and wealthy heiress Portia of Belmont. Having squandered his estate, Bassanio approaches his friend Antonio, a wealthy merchant of Venice and a kind and generous person, who has previously and repeatedly bailed him out, for three thousand ducats needed to subsidise his expenditures as a suitor. Antonio...

The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

Prior to the first act, an induction frames the play as a "kind of history" played in front of a befuddled drunkard named Christopher Sly who is tricked into believing that he is a lord. In the play performed for Sly, the "Shrew" is Katherina Minola, the eldest daughter of Baptista Minola, a Lord in Padua. Katherina's temper is notorious and it is thought no man would ever...

The Tempest by William Shakespeare

The magician Prospero, rightful Duke of Milan, and his daughter, Miranda, have been stranded for twelve years on an island after Prospero's jealous brother Antonio (helped by Alonso, the King of Naples) deposed him and set him adrift with the then-3-year-old Miranda. Gonzalo, the King's counsellor, had secretly supplied their boat with plenty of food, water, clothes and the...

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

The leading character, Viola, is shipwrecked on the shores of Illyria during the opening scenes. She loses contact with her twin brother, Sebastian, whom she believes to be dead. Masquerading as a young page under the name Cesario, she enters the service of Duke Orsino through the help of the sea captain who rescues her. Orsino has convinced himself that he is in love with...

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