Shakespeare: Listing the Favourites

Posted 30 July, 2015 by Lianne in Lists / 12 Comments

So, as of 10 May 2015, I could proudly say that I read all of William Shakespeare’s plays. It’s pretty intense, the bulk of his works having been read in the last two years starting with the reading challenge I hosted in 2014 and wrapping up this year with the rest of his plays. You can read all of my reviews in the author tag. I just wanted to reflect a little bit on reading all of his plays, note my favourites from the batch (because there were so I loved, some I liked, and some I didn’t like (and some perhaps I need to re-read at some point)) πŸ™‚

The Comedies

  • Twelfth Night (review) — Always and forever, my number one favourite comedy from Shakespeare. Twins lost at sea, mistaken identities, love triangles and squares, yellow stockings…What’s not to love? πŸ˜€
  • Much Ado About Nothing (review) — It took a second read for me to really enjoy the play (in my first read, I found the main storyline with Claudio and Hero extremely problematic and not terribly satisfying), but it’s really all because of Beatrice and Benedick πŸ˜€
  • As You Like It (review) — Such a sweet, lovely play. A little weird at times with things being decided upon out of th blue but whatever, it works. Rosalind and Orlando are so cute too xP
  • The Merchant of Venice (review) — I have a soft spot for this play because it was the first play I studied in school. It’s still an interesting play to read, and Shylock’s storyline continues to compel me more so than the main storyline with Bassiano, Portia, et al.

The Tragedies

  • Hamlet (review) — I always liked this play but it took a re-read earlier this year to truly appreciate the finer aspects of this play and the themes and elements that were running through Hamlet over the course of the play. It’s dark and introspective and just fascinating.
  • Titus Andronicus (review) — Definitely one of those plays that prompted a more physical response as I was reading it (“Should I be weeping or screaming right about now?”), I couldn’t quite tear away from it even when it went bad to worse D= It had some great lines, not to mention an interesting take on, err, revenge
  • Othello (review) — Another one of those plays that left me all flailing and reacting a bt more out loud (“OMG, Othello, don’t trust him!”), it was quite the page turner.
  • Macbeth (review) — In retrospect, I do wish this play was a bit longer, but it’s pretty intriguing and tragic and thought-provoking all the same.

The Histories

  • Richard II (review) — It took a second read for me to love and really appreciate this play, both story-wise, characterisation-wise, and structurally as a play. It’s just so finely written, and there’s so much going thematically and these characters…
  • Richard III (review) — Fell in love with this play the first time I read it. Richard III is such a bastard in this play and yet it’s quite a page-turner, it’s compelling, you’re left wondering how things will ultimately turn out for him (hint: not so well).
  • Julius Caesar (review) — Friends! Romans! Countrymen! Lend me your ear…I enjoyed reading this play, but Mark Antony’s speech at Caesar’s funeral bumped it up to a favourite πŸ˜›

The Honourable Mentions

Because they stayed with me even though I may not have loved them completely (so that means I liked it…right?)…

  • All’s Well That Ends Well (review) — Everything problematic about this play stems from Bertram, but I can’t help but like the play anyhow.
  • Measure For Measure (review) — Again, problematic with the two leads here and Angelo’s actions later in the play are like WTF, NO!, but it’s a very interesting play with some contrasts and mirror issues similar to Richard II (at least in my mind πŸ˜› ).
  • The Tempest (review) — For the sheer amount of quotables in this play, yeah, it gets an honourable mention πŸ˜‰

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And those are my favourites! I suppose I’ll be moving along to Shakespeare’s other contemporaries now that I finished his works and Christopher Marlowe’s (see tag) and maybe a few of the more modern playwrights (been meaning to re-visit Arthur Miller). What do you think of the list? Which plays by Shakespeare are your favourites? That you want to read? Favourite playwrights/plays in general?

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12 Responses to “Shakespeare: Listing the Favourites”

  1. Much Ado About Nothing is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. The banter between Benedick and Beatrice is brilliant. I also really love Kenneth Branagh’s movie version

  2. Oooh! This is perfect. I reviewed Romeo and Juliet (liked it more than I expected) a few days ago and asked for favorites – Twelfth Night and Hamlet were mentioned, so I think I will read those two first. But I’m saving your list for future reference πŸ™‚

  3. Twelfth Night is my favourite comedy too! My favourite tragedy would have to be Macbeth, and Henry V is the history play for me! I have a soft spot for Coriolanus too, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream because it was the first one I ever saw!

    Katrina @ Chased By My Imagination

    • Thanks for sharing your favourites! Henry V’s St. Crispin’s Day speech was amazing. Coriolanus was a fascinating play as well. I need to re-read A Midsummer Night’s Dream as I didn’t like it the first time I read it and I reckon I just missed all the finer points/the humour about it πŸ˜›

  4. You’ve read every single Shakespeare play?! Now that’s impressive! I’ve only read 10 of his plays which isn’t very much considering that he wrote 37. Did you have a set reading order for the plays or did you just read them at random? I’d love to read/re-read the plays but I’m trying to work out how best to do it.

    When it comes to Shakespeare I’m really more of a tragedy girl πŸ™‚ I love ‘Hamlet’, ‘Othello’ and ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Coriolanus’ is a seriously underrated play as well. Of the comedies my favourite by far has been ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. I’m a big fan of ‘The Tempest’ as well but it wasn’t until I saw a Shakespeare Globe production of it that the play really clicked with me.

    If you want to check out Arthur Miller then definitely, definitely watch ‘The Crucible’! The Old Vic did a production of it recently with Richard Armitage as John Proctor and it’s up on the Digital Theatre website. It’s amazing! The themes are so haunting and powerful… and on a completely different note another huge favourite of mine is George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Pygmalion’. I love that play so much! It’s so, so funny and clever and the ending is a thousand times better than ‘My Fair Lady’s’.

    Loved this post! πŸ™‚

    • Yup yup! I still can’t believe I’ve gotten through all of them tbh lol xD I read them at random, though I kept the re-reads until the end (The Merchant of Venice, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night) because I first read them back in high school. I did try to keep the histories together (the Henriad and the War of the Roses cylce) just because it made sense to just marathon them together πŸ™‚

      I think I mentioned it in one of my reviews but I think ultimately I am a tragedy girl more than the comedies; the comedies often went over my head, but there were a few that I really enjoyed, like Twelfth Night and As You Like It πŸ™‚ Agreed re: Coriolanus, it was quite an intense play (though hats off to Titus Andronicus being the most intense, I think…that an Othello left me all D= the way through)

      Thanks for the recommendation! I do have The Crucible on the wish-to-read list and I heard wonderful things about Richard Armitage’s performance there. I’ll have to check out Pygmalion sometime, been hearing good things about it πŸ™‚

      Thanks for your thoughts on Shakespeare! πŸ™‚

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