Hi there! Today I thought I’d do a post all about Shakespeare, after seeing the hashtag, Shakespeare Sunday! I’ve not really done any posts on this brilliant writer, so why not start now?
So these are my top 5 Shakespeare plays that I’ve loved, and also the ones that I really want to read. Shamefully, the reason I didn’t do my top 5 Shakespeare plays is because I haven’t read enough yet, so that’s why this is a mixture of those I’ve read, and those I want to read in the future!
I love the play ‘Othello’! And it’s a good job really, because I’ve been studying it on and off for around three years. ‘Othello’ is about a black general in Venice, and, as this is the seventeenth century, he is the only black man in the play. Iago, the villain of the play, decides to mess with Othello’s mind (for reasons never truly known to the audience), and he makes him think that Othello’s charming new wife, Desdemona, is cheating on him.
This play has so many deep messages about outsiders, self-esteem and evil, and I think that the depth of the play really makes it interesting. I also love the racial issues that it brings up, and the strong female characters of the play are really interesting to read about. I also recently read ‘New Boy’ by Tracy Chevalier, which was a brilliant retelling of this play in 1970s America.
2. ‘Romeo and Juliet’
I know this is such a typical answer, but I really enjoyed reading this play, and the passages of the play about love are just truly beautiful (until you realise that Juliet is probably only about 13…). The fact that this story has been retold and reformed over the ages just shows its power.
This was also the first play I ever read of Shakespeare’s, and so for me it has a special memory attached. I’m not saying I understood it all, but I enjoyed it all the same. I also love the film version of this play (the Leonardo Di Caprio one, obviously) so that’s definitely worth checking out!
I wasn’t as keen on this play as ‘Othello’ when we studied the two together a few years ago, but the storyline is still interesting, and I love how strong-willed Lady Macbeth is- even if her conscience does get her in the end. The fact that she questions her husband’s manhood, basically intimidating and teasing him into killing a king, shows her power and strength, and although she may not be a nice character, clearly she has more courage than her husband. For a patriarchal society, that must have been quite shocking stuff!
4. ‘Twelfth Night’
I really want to read this one, it sounds great. The storyline sounds really confusing, but my mum’s read it and the female characters sound quite strong, so I think it’s definitely worth a read! It’s also a comedy, so might be happier than the ones I’ve read in the past, which have all been tragedies… Tragedies are good and everything, but there’s not much ambiguity regarding how everyone will end up!
Ages ago I watched the teen film ‘She’s the Man’ which was loosely (very loosely) based on ‘Twelfth Night’ and, although the film was awful, it did get me interested in the play, with Viola, the main character, dressing up as a man, which really intrigues me!
5. ‘Anthony and Cleopatra’
This sounds like such an amazing play! My mum studied it a couple of years ago, and the character of Cleopatra sounds so strong-willed. I think that Shakespeare often portrays women as strong characters, and throughout his plays I can see some similarity in their strong nature, such as with Emilia from ‘Othello’ and Lady Macbeth. I’m sure Shakespeare must have been a closet feminist 😉
There are so many more plays I could name that I would love to read, and hopefully one day I’ll get round to reading them all, but these are the few that I have loved reading, and that I’m looking forward to reading in the future!
Have you read many of these plays? Are there any Shakespeare plays you’d really like to read in the future? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below!
Currently reading: ‘The Invention of Wings’ by Sue Monk Kidd