The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) Study Guide

Shakespeare’s Plays

Listed below are all of Shakespeare’s plays. That’s right. ALL. OF. THEM. He wrote a lot of content and even after almost 500 years, his plays are still studied, performed, and taught throughout the world. Read below and learn… 

TRAGEDIES

Antony and Cleopatra

Falling in love with an Egyptian legend has its drawbacks… war with your friend and suicide to name a few.

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/antony-and-cleopatra/

Coriolanus

Is it possible to be a double-double crosser? Ask Coriolanus! Oh wait you can’t… he’s dead.

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/coriolanus/

Cymbeline

King Cymbeline (I know! I was surprised it was a guy too…) likes to banish people. His daughter likes to sip tea and spread gossip about infidelity. Well, at least they get their comeuppance and finally have peace between Rome and themselves… Wait. That ain’t fair…

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/cymbeline/

Hamlet

Your dad is dead, your patricidal Uncle is your new step-pops, and you’re slowly slipping into madness… Family therapy won’t be able to fix this bunch! Apparently, only death will…

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/hamlet/

Julius Caesar

Et tu, Brute? You think your friends are backstabbers! Follow this link and see how blessed you are with the clique you have.

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/julius-caesar/

King Lear

Word of advice as a parent? Don’t turn away and banish the only daughter who loves you and subsequently put your unloving, ungrateful daughters in a position of power. It’ll lead to you going crazy and wandering in a storm only to have everyone you love (and more) die. Playing favorites never proves fruitful. Just ask Lear… Oh wait. He dead.

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/king-lear/

MacBeth

Mac-What? Shhh… Don’t say this name in a theatre unless you plan on putting some bad voodoo on the show. This Scot-man takes some bad advice from some witches and the bloodshed that follows is his comeuppance.

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/macbeth/

Othello

Jealousy! Distrust! A guy named Iago. The Moor of Venice needs to learn communication skills with his wife. One of Shakespeare’s most famous plays is this way…

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/othello-moor-venice/

Romeo and Juliet

Having love issues at the age of 13? Well, don’t take advice from these two star-crossed lovers… Romeo and Juliet is a tale as old as time but some take umbrage with the ending.

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/romeo-and-juliet/

the Tempest

Don’t you just hate it when an old man and his slaves ruin your perfectly good shipwreck on a magical island by tormenting you?

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/tempest/

Timon of Athens

Owe tons of money and now you’re mad because no one will spot you the cash? Call 1-800-WOOD-PYRO and have a guy set your town on fire. (We do not condone this kind of behavior as anyone’s form of problem solving tactics.)

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/timon-athens/

Titus Adronicus

Law and Order: SVU doesn’t know what to do with these cast members. Dismemberment and revenge are the themes for this gory play.

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/titus-andronicus/

Troilus and Cressida

“I love you! But now you’re dead…” “And I love YOU! But now YOU’RE dead…” It sure is hard to find true commitment during the Trojan war.

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/troilus-and-cressida/

 

COMEDIES

All’s Well that Ends Well

Even Maury wouldn’t know how to solve these marriage issues! Unrequited love, some trickery, and mild stalking help to show that love conquers all. As long as you’re willing to deceive…

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/alls-well-ends-well/

As You Like It

Cross-dressing is a very common writing tool Shakespeare uses to move plots along. Anyone else notice this? Well, in this play it all plays out to a big group wedding in the woods, which sounds fun!

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/as-you-like-it/

the Comedy of Errors

Two sets of twins and one shipwreck lead to a ‘Who’s on First’ comedy sketch but with iambic pentameter. (Watch Abbot and Costello, children. You’ll thank me later. … … But also read this play!)

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/comedy-of-errors/

Love’s Labour’s Lost

Don’t you just hate it when you vow to be a bachelor forever and someone just shows up looking all good and whatnot and ruining your plans? Man, I hate when attractive women want to date me…

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/loves-labours-lost/

Measure for Measure

Don’t question a nun’s resolve and religious commitments! Politics and religion never mix. Especially when you’re a corrupt jerk.

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/measure-measure/

the Merchant of Venice

As always, women have to save the day by cross dressing as lawyers to save their fiancés from crippling (literally!) debt.

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/merchant-venice/

the Merry Wives of Windsor

Having money troubles? Seducing wealthy wives is apparently a solid investment tactic in Shakespeare’s time.  

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/merry-wives-windsor/

Midsummer Night’s Dream

If I had a nickel for every time I fell in love with a donkey, I’d be one rich Fairy Queen! Love triangles with magicked mules and lost teen love squares (love rhombus? Love- … …  four teens with confused feelings!) are the center of this puckish story of mirth and magic!

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/midsummer-nights-dream/

Much Ado About Nothing

These characters are making a whole fuss over nothing just because someone heard something from someone from somewhere. Don’t gossip, people. It gives you wrinkles.

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/much-ado-about-nothing/

the Taming of the Shrew

Nothing screams feminism like being forced into marriage so your younger sister can wed her love and then both of you competing against each other to determine who’s the most obedient wife! But hey! You won the contest. Yay…

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/taming-of-the-shrew/

Twelfth Night

You don’t want to go on this cruise! … Or do you? Pirates! Love-triangles! Cross-dressing! This ain’t no Disney cruise. Follow this link to find out more.

 https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/twelfth-night/

Two Gentleman of Verona

Is it very gentlemanly to go after your bro’s girl? Asking for a friend…

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/two-gentlemen-verona/

Winter’s Tale

“Banishment, Shepherds, and Bears, Oh My!” Misunderstandings lead to death. But also bears lead to death. Mis identities are the catalyst to honest love and statues come to life in one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/winters-tale/

 

HISTORIES

Henry IV Part 1

Best friend waging war against you? Ask your alcoholic son to fight with you in battle and all will be well. And who says the family sitcom motif is dead…

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/henry-iv-part-1/

Henry IV Part 2

Relationships are complicated… Dad’s dead. Best friend talking trash… Let’s go to war. AGAIN!

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/henry-iv-part-2/

Henry V

The French called Henry V mean names! So… more war! But with assassination attempts this time! Also a wedding though…

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/henry-v/

Henry VI Part 1

Endless war not seeming so endless anymore? Let’s have a wedding! Opa! *smashes dish*

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/henry-vi-part-1/

Henry VI Part 2

Ill-advised marriage arrangements lead to infidelity and usurpers which cause you to flee. Pay attention, America. We are in a marriage crisis and Shakespeare is telling us how to avoid it.

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/henry-vi-part-2/

Henry VI Part 3

Forced to flee because of someone else’s claim to the throne? Well… just disinherit your son make the new King the heir to the throne, become King again, and have a bunch of people killed which ultimately leads you to being imprisoned and killed. Royalty really have their stuff together…

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/henry-vi-part-3/

Henry VIII

Find yourself a girl, marry her! Find a prettier girl, divorce the first, marry the second! Then have a daughter who is praised as amazing and infallible even when she’s still in diapers… the rest is history. *wink wink*

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/henry-viii/

King John

France thinks that Arthur should be king; they fight; France thinks that Louis should be king; they fight; Henry becomes king. Yay, compromise…

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/king-john/

Pericles, Prince of Tyre

Leave your home and lose your title. Marry a princess and gain in back only to lose your family in a shipwreck…

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/pericles-prince-tyre/

Richard II

Word of advice? Don’t banish someone and steal a bunch of land. It’ll lead you to getting murdered in prison. Even if you’re king.

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/richard-ii/

Richard III

Want to become King? Don’t do what this guy did! Murdering anyone in your way will only lead to another Henry taking the thrown.

https://www.shakespeare.org.uk/explore-shakespeare/shakespedia/shakespeares-plays/richard-iii/

CONGRATULATIONS! You made it to the end of the list. Shakespeare certainly had an eclectic writing style. He did not stick to one genre, that’s for sure. What was your favorite? The Comedies? The Tragedies? Or the Histories?