Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years. Here you can find, for each of thirteen plays, an annotated and illustrated text, scene summaries, a search engine, and a page of notable quotes. For some plays you will find quite a lot of other material you might find interesting. I welcome comments and suggestions.    -- Philip Weller

 
Plays:

Macbeth

Witches assure Macbeth that he will be king, then deliver a prophecy which makes him feel untouchable. But after Lady Macbeth learns of the prophecy, ambition for her husband helps magnify the fury, blood, insanity, horror, and murder rate in medieval Scotland.
Romeo and Juliet

In Shakespeare's romantic tragedy of young love and early death in fair Verona the lovers almost escape a culture of hate. If only Juliet had awakened five minutes earlier or if Romeo had gotten to the tomb five minutes later, they would have made it.
Hamlet

Prince Hamlet confronts death throughout this famous play. He is haunted by the ghost of his father, tempted by the sleep of suicide, has an impulse to kill his mother, kills a man without knowing who he is, and sends two friends to their deaths without the least remorse. In the end he says farewell to his own life in a few words: "The rest is silence."
Othello

The timeless green monster of jealousy lifts its powerful head shortly after Othello and the beautiful Desdemona elope and marry. Othello, filled with passion, turns out to be easy meat for a passionless political climber. Poor Desdemona . . . .
Julius Caesar

Death breeds death in this tragic action thriller that features fortune-tellers, prophecies, nightmares, and Caesar's Ghost. Senators conspire to steal their leader's enormous power, but revenge from loyalists starts a civil war which features a gruesomely wide variety of ways to die.
King Lear

King Lear is Shakespeare's absurdist tragedy. The evil are proud of their evil. A fool and a madman are the wisest characters. And, "As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods. / They kill us for their sport."
A Midsummer Night's Dream

An enchanting comedy in which fairies use a magic potion to fix romantic human entanglements, but get everything wrong before getting anything right. Then everyone watches a play in which the mixture of illusion, reality, and imagination transport us into a world of dreams.
Twelfth Night

Concealed identities enhanced by cross-dressing, along with secrets crushes, separated twins, and elaborate practical jokes by day drinkers and schemers have hilarious results.
Much Ado About Nothing

Trying to help or hinder the loves of two sets of lovers, their friends and enemies hide in hedges, eavesdrop, and flat out lie in order to fool other hiders or eavesdroppers. Finally, after ox-bow plot twists, everyone wakes up to the miraculous truth.
As You Like It

Villains who repent, a huge picnic in the forest, satirical commentary on innocent lambs, and everything wrapped up in laughter by a deus ex machina. What's not to like?
The Taming of the Shrew

In the battle of the sexes it's the irresistible force vs. the immovable object. Who wins? Who loses? Who's keeping score? Can a truce be called? And where is the bloody rulebook?
The Merchant of Venice

As in other Shakespearean comedies, the leading lady is wise and witty. And as in other Shakespearean comedies, there's a clown or three, depending on how you count. And as in other Shakespearean comedies, it ends with the celebration of multiple marriages. So, it will make you laugh and smile. But you might cry, too.
The Tempest

Probably Shakespeare's last play as sole author, The Tempest is the story of how Prospero, as a father and as a ruler, redeems himself from a great failure. Shakespearean scholars sometimes refer to it as Shakespeare's farewell to the stage, and it very well could be.


Also:
Sonnets: All of Shakespeare's sonnets, with notes, summaries, and some illustrations.
The complete text of the critical classic, A. C. Bradley's Shakespearean Tragedy.
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The First Part of Henry IV