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March 22nd is Talk Like Shakespeare Day! Celebrate the unique lambic pentameter of Shakespeare's works by reading one of his well-known plays. There are so many to choose from!
The library's OverDrive collection makes it easy to read one of these iconic works. Just click on one of the links below to be taken to COM library's eBook version of the play.
Hamlet: Dive into the tragedy that many critics regard not only as Shakespeare's finest play, but also as one of the best literary works ever produced. Set in Denmark, Hamlet recounts the events that transpire after the King is murdered by his brother Claudius, who then marries his brother's widow. Prince Hamlet uncovers the true nature of his father's death and feigns madness to create a trap.
Romeo and Juliet: One of Shakespeare's early tragedies. The two young title characters fall madly in love, but are the children of feuding houses whose hatred for each other works to a devastating end. The play was immensely popular in Shakespeare's lifetime and is the most enduring of his plays along with Hamlet. Romeo and Juliet is considered one of the archetypal love stories.
Macbeth: Shakespeare's shortest tragedy and one of his best-known plays. Often referred to as an archetypal tale, it warns against lust for power and the betrayal of friends. Shakespeare based the play loosely on a King Macbeth of Scotland. The play is traditionally considered "cursed", and thus many actors refer to it as "The Scottish Play" to avoid naming it.
King Lear: Considered one of Shakespeare's greatest plays. King Lear decides to step down and divide his kingdom between his three daughters. When his youngest and favorite daughter refuses to compete and perform her love for him, he is enraged and disowns her. She remains loyal to him, however, though he slides into madness and his other children betray him.
A Midsummer Night's Dream: Shakespeare's classic tale of two couples who can't quite pair up to everyone's satisfaction. Demetrius and Lysander love Hermia. Hermia loves Lysander but has been promised to Demetrius by her father. Hermia's best friend Helena loves Demetrius, but in his obsession for Hermia Demetrius barely even notices her smitten friend. When Hermia and Lysander plan to elope all four find themselves in the forest late at night where the fairy Puck and his lord Oberon wreck havoc on the humans with a love potion that causes the victim to fall in love with the first thing they see upon waking.
Taming of the Shrew: Perhaps one of Shakespeare's most controversial plays by modern standards. Hinging on the courtship between the arrogant Petruchio and the "shrew" of the title Katherina, it is unclear whether Shakespeare's blatantly misogynistic themes were in earnest or tongue in cheek. The charming and tender Bianca is forbidden to marry until her elder sister, Katherine is spoken for. Bianca's suitors enlist Petruchio to woo Katherina for her dowry. Petruchio embarks on his own brand of psychological torture and in so doing manages to "tame" the stubborn Katherine who morphs into the faultless submissive wife.
For more on Shakespeare, take a look at our Renaissance British Literature guide.
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