General Questions I would like to know more about the categories Shakespeare's works fall into and why.
Sources[ edit ] The source for most of the English history plays, as well as for Macbeth and King Lear, is the well known Raphael Holinshed 's Chronicle of English history.
Shakespeare's history plays focus on only a small part of the characters' lives, and also frequently omit significant events Three categories of william shakespeares plays dramatic purposes.
Politics in the English history plays[ edit ] Shakespeare was living in the reign of Elizabeth Ithe last monarch of the house of Tudorand his history plays are often regarded as Tudor propaganda because they show the dangers of civil war and celebrate the founders of the Tudor dynasty. In particular, Richard III depicts the last member of the rival house of York as an evil monster "that bottled spider, that foul bunchback'd toad"a depiction disputed by many modern historians, while portraying his successor, Henry VII in glowing terms.
However, Shakespeare's celebration of Tudor order is less important in these plays than his presentation of the spectacular decline of the medieval world. Some of Shakespeare's histories — notably Richard III — point out that this medieval world came to its end when opportunism and Machiavellianism infiltrated its politics.
By nostalgically evoking the late Middle Ages, these plays described the political and social evolution that had led to the actual methods of Tudor rule, so that it is possible to consider the English history plays as a biased criticism of their own country.
The 'Tudor myth' formulated by the historians and poets recognised Henry VI as a lawful king, condemned the York brothers for killing him and Prince Edward, and stressed the hand of divine providence in the Yorkist fall and in the rise of Henry Tudor, whose uniting of the houses of Lancaster and York had been prophesied by the 'saintly' Henry VI.
Henry Tudor's deposing of Richard III "was justified on the principles of contemporary political theory, for Henry was not merely rebelling against a tyrant but putting down a tyrannous usurper, which The Mirror for Magistrates allowed".
Consequently, though Hall in his Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Families of Lancastre and Yorke saw God's curse laid upon England for the deposing and murder of Richard II, God finally relenting and sending peace in the person and dynasty of Henry Tudor, and though Holinshed's final judgement was that Richard Duke of York and his line were divinely punished for violating his oath to let Henry VI live out his reign, the chroniclers tended to incorporate elements of all three myths in their treatment of the period from Richard II to Henry VII.
Interpretations[ edit ] Shakespeare's double tetralogy[ edit ] H.
According to Kelly, Shakespeare's great contribution, writing as a historiographer-dramatist, was to eliminate the supposedly objective providential judgements of his sources, and to distribute them to appropriate spokesmen in the plays, presenting them as mere opinion.
Thus the sentiments of the Lancaster myth are spoken by Lancastrians, the opposing myth is voiced by Yorkists, and the Tudor myth is embodied in Henry Tudor. Shakespeare "thereby allows each play to create its own ethos and mythos and to offer its own hypotheses concerning the springs of action".
Richard Duke of York, for example, in his speech to Parliament about his claim, placed great stress, according to the chronicles, on providential justice; Shakespeare's failure to make use of this theme in the parliament scene at the start of 3 Henry VI, Kelly argues, "would seem to amount to an outright rejection of it".
As for suggestions of a benevolent Providence, Shakespeare does appear to adopt the chronicles' view that Talbot's victories were due to divine aid,  where Joan of Arc's were down to devilish influence, but in reality he lets the audience see that "she has simply outfoxed [Talbot] by superior military strategy".
Warren,after J. Kelly  Accordingly, Shakespeare's moral characterisation and political bias, Kelly argues, change from play to play, "which indicates that he is not concerned with the absolute fixing of praise or blame", though he does achieve general consistency within each play: Many of his changes in characterisation must be blamed upon the inconsistencies of the chroniclers before him.
For this reason, the moral conflicts of each play must be taken in terms of that play, and not supplemented from the other plays. As for Lancastrian bias, York is presented as unrighteous and hypocritical in 2 Henry VI,  and while Part 2 ends with Yorkist victories and the capture of Henry, Henry still appears "the upholder of right in the play".
The Duchess of York's lament that her family "make war upon themselves, brother to brother, blood to blood, self against self"  derives from Vergil and Hall's judgment that the York brothers paid the penalty for murdering King Henry and Prince Edward.
In the later tetralogy Shakespeare clearly inclines towards the Lancaster myth. The plan in Henry IV to divide the kingdom in three undermines Mortimer's credibility. The omission of Mortimer from Henry V was again quite deliberate: Shakespeare's Henry V has no doubt about his own claim. Shakespearean history in the wider sense[ edit ] John F.
He implies that rebellion against a legitimate and pious king is wrong, and that only a monster such as Richard of Gloucester would have attempted it. In these plays he adopts the official Tudor ideology, by which rebellion, even against a wrongful usurper, is never justifiable.
Hotspur and Hal are joint heirs, one medieval, the other modern, of a split Faulconbridge. Danby argues, however, that when Hal rejects Falstaff he is not reforming, as is the common view,  but merely turning from one social level to another, from Appetite to Authority, both of which are equally part of the corrupt society of the time.
Of the two, Danby argues, Falstaff is the preferable, being, in every sense, the bigger man. In Hamlet king-killing becomes a matter of private rather than public morality — the individual's struggles with his own conscience and fallibility take centre stage. Hamlet, like Edgar in King Lear later, has to become a "machiavel of goodness".
Macbeth is clearly aware of the great frame of Nature he is violating. The older medieval society, with its doting king, falls into error, and is threatened by the new Machiavellianism; it is regenerated and saved by a vision of a new order, embodied in the king's rejected daughter.
By the time he reaches Edmund, Shakespeare no longer pretends that the Hal-type Machiavellian prince is admirable; and in Lear he condemns the society we think historically inevitable.
Against this he holds up the ideal of a transcendent community and reminds us of the "true needs" of a humanity to which the operations of a Commodity-driven society perpetually do violence.
This "new" thing that Shakespeare discovers is embodied in Cordelia. Cordelia, in the allegorical scheme, is threefold: Until that decent society is achieved, we are meant to take as role-model Edgar, the Machiavel of patience, of courage and of "ripeness".
History theatrical genre Dates and themes[ edit ] Chronicle plays — history-plays based on the chronicles of Polydore VergilEdward HallRaphael Holinshed and others — enjoyed great popularity from the late s to c.Shakespeare's Plays Before the publication of the First Folio in , nineteen of the thirty-seven plays in Shakespeare's canon had appeared in quarto format.
With the exception of Othello (), all of the quartos were published prior to the date of Shakespeare's retirement from the theatre in about The will itself is not written in Shakespeare’s hand, but it does contain three of the six surviving examples of his signature: one each at the bottom of pages 1 and 2, and one at the end, which reads ‘By me William Shakespeare’.
Shakespeare's Plays: General Questions I would like to know more about the categories Shakespeare's works fall into and why. Shakespeare's works fall into three . Shakespeare wrote at least 38 plays and over short and long poems, many of which are considered to be the finest ever written in English.
His works have been translated into every major living language, and some others besides (the Folger's holdings include translations in Esperanto and Klingon), and nearly years after his death, they continue to be performed around.
Shakespeare’s collection of 38 plays are categorized into four types, as follows: 1. Tragedies - Shakespeare is perhaps most famous for his tragedies. Famous examples include Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth.
Shakespeare's plays, listed by genre List plays alphabetically by number of words by number of speeches by date Links lead to the play's text and the dramatis personae.