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Four Great Tragedies: Hamlet / Othello / King Lear / Macbeth

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Four Great Tragedies: Hamlet / Othello / King Lear / Macbeth PDF, ePub eBook The greatest tragic plays of William Shakespeare--including Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. What is tragedy? The Elizabethans defined it as a "lofty" play showing "personages of great state" caught up in a "lamentable" action that "beginneth prosperously and endeth unfortunately." Whether judged by this or any other standard, the plays selected for this collection The greatest tragic plays of William Shakespeare--including Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. What is tragedy? The Elizabethans defined it as a "lofty" play showing "personages of great state" caught up in a "lamentable" action that "beginneth prosperously and endeth unfortunately." Whether judged by this or any other standard, the plays selected for this collection are considered to be the four central works of Shakespearean tragedy and must be included in any list of the world's finest tragic literature. And to make these plays more accessible for the modern reader, this edition includes the following special features: - Reliable texts by noted Shakespeare scholars - Texts printed in the clearest, most readable type - Names of each speaker given in full - Detailed footnotes at the bottom of each page keyed to the numbered lines of the text - Textual notes - Updated bibliography

30 review for Four Great Tragedies: Hamlet / Othello / King Lear / Macbeth

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    If there is a lesson common to all of these tragedies, it is not to go jumping to conclusions. You may have an enemy muddying the waters (Othello). You may have mispercieved the situation because your ego is in the way (King Lear). You may think you are avoiding fate, when actually you are placing yourself right in the way of it by doing something ethically questionable (Macbeth). Or you may just be a little to self-righteous for your own good (Hamlet). Tragedy in these works is usually brought If there is a lesson common to all of these tragedies, it is not to go jumping to conclusions. You may have an enemy muddying the waters (Othello). You may have mispercieved the situation because your ego is in the way (King Lear). You may think you are avoiding fate, when actually you are placing yourself right in the way of it by doing something ethically questionable (Macbeth). Or you may just be a little to self-righteous for your own good (Hamlet). Tragedy in these works is usually brought about by the protagonists own misuse of power or action. Shakespeare gives some good warning here to check yourself before you go off on a tangent.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    Up front, I love Shakespeare. I love the sonnets, the comedies, some of the histories, and all of the tragedies. The first play I ever saw onstage was Richard Burton's rehearsal dress "Hamlet" back in the Sixties when I was in my teens. I was so astounded to discover such a thing, such language, that I literally could not get out of my seat for the standing ovation. A whole world had opened up to me. I knew I did not understand everything that had transpired on that stage--I was too naive, too l Up front, I love Shakespeare. I love the sonnets, the comedies, some of the histories, and all of the tragedies. The first play I ever saw onstage was Richard Burton's rehearsal dress "Hamlet" back in the Sixties when I was in my teens. I was so astounded to discover such a thing, such language, that I literally could not get out of my seat for the standing ovation. A whole world had opened up to me. I knew I did not understand everything that had transpired on that stage--I was too naive, too lacking in literary background or psychology, to understand it all. What I did understand was that it was genius, that it was challenging, that it could be life-changing. I have seen Hamlets since then--from Jacobi to Gibson--and liked them all, but nothing can ever replace that first experience. Adding to the delight that reading Shakespeare brings other pleasures, a chance to savor words and phrases that are bantered about the stage and replaced quickly by other words and phrases. If you have never, ever read Shakespeare--start with Macbeth, a short play with witches and ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Move on to Othello with its jealousies and mistaken messages. Go then to Hamlet, and try to figure out its conundrums. Finish with Lear, the old king, and weep.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Okay, I love Shakespeare! I have read this book over and over, for classes and for leisure, and my absolute favorite play is King Lear. I love the disruption of gender conventions and the vanity of the characters. I love how Lear goes from being king down to being nothing. I think that it's Shakespeare's most brilliant and misogynist play. Regan and Goneril are so united and terribly ambitious and they pretty much throw it away over Edmund, going along with saying that "down from the waist they Okay, I love Shakespeare! I have read this book over and over, for classes and for leisure, and my absolute favorite play is King Lear. I love the disruption of gender conventions and the vanity of the characters. I love how Lear goes from being king down to being nothing. I think that it's Shakespeare's most brilliant and misogynist play. Regan and Goneril are so united and terribly ambitious and they pretty much throw it away over Edmund, going along with saying that "down from the waist they are centaurs", lustful centaurs that will risk a kingdom for a penis. Edmund is the greatest villain: he conspires to get his father's estate by framing his brother and selling his father up the river.He is so cold-hearted. Brilliant. Othello is good, but only because of Iago. He is a wonderful villain and a mastermind, and the only reason to read Othello. Hamlet, is my least favorite of all. He's too depressed and indecisive for my taste. That's all I will say. Macbeth, is great as well. Something about ambitious women killing for power just appeals to me.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chris brown

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. An essay I wrote for a class, Christopher F. Brown Prof. Chris Weidenbach English 017 / Shakespeare 11/30/2013 A Brief Unpacking And Examination Of Corruption And Nationalism Through The Shakespearian Plays: Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Othello, And Troilus & Cressida. In a paper about the play, “Julius Caesar” I wrote that “Julius Caesar,” “. . . is a message of warning against, and commentary about nationalism.” The underlying themes of, commentaries about, Nationalism and Corruption are also very An essay I wrote for a class, Christopher F. Brown Prof. Chris Weidenbach English 017 / Shakespeare 11/30/2013 A Brief Unpacking And Examination Of Corruption And Nationalism Through The Shakespearian Plays: Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Othello, And Troilus & Cressida. In a paper about the play, “Julius Caesar” I wrote that “Julius Caesar,” “. . . is a message of warning against, and commentary about nationalism.” The underlying themes of, commentaries about, Nationalism and Corruption are also very present in the plays: MacBeth, Othello, and Troilus & Cressida. The ideology of Nationalism is defined by Merriam Webster’s on-line dictionary as, “Loyalty and devotion to a nation, especially: a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of the culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.” Corruption is, defined, again defined by Merriam Webster’s on-line dictionary, as “Impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle: depravity, decay, decomposition, inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means (as bribery) a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct.” In the play, “Othello” the character of Othello is constantly referred to as “The Moor.” On the surface, this is just a term that lets the reader know that Othello is of North African descent, and possible a Muslim, Shakespeare never directly writes such in the play but it is inferred as such. If this is examined further, the slight of subtle Nationalism can be seen in Act 1, Scene 1, lines 105-110; Act 1, Scene 1 lines 127-134, and Act 1, Scene 2, lines 7-28. Iago, in a clear example of corruption, and a subtle swipe of the negative aspects of Nationalism tries to convince Brabantio that it was a highly negative thing that Othello be married to his daughter, says, Zounds, sir, you are on of those that will not serve God if the devil bid you. Because we come to do you service and you think we are ruffians, you’ll have your daughter covered with a Barbary horse, you’ll have your nephews neigh to you, you’ll have coursers for cousins, and gennets for germans. -- Othello, Act 1, Scene 1, lines 105-110 All of that simply means that Othello is a Moor, an outsider, not a Venetian. If you let him, Othello, the Barbary horse, which is a breed of Arabian horse and a derogatory term for a Moor, have your daughter your descendants, meant by nephews, will neigh to you, meaning that your descendants will be part beast. A courser is another horse, particularly, a fast warhorse used in medieval Europe, again making bestial references. A “genney” is an old English/Shakespearian term for “Jenny” which is a Spanish Donkey. Shakespeare uses the term “German” in the sense of the old English/Shakespearian usage which meant cousins, as in having the same grandparents on ones mother’s or father’s side of the family. Iago is not only being racist on the surface but is inferring that Othello might also have some Spanish blood in him as well. If Brabantio lets Othello have his daughter then the Spanish Donkeys, the “Gennys” will become apart of Brabantio family, appealing to the subtle draw of Venetian nationalism in that in medieval Europe, as well as in some places in modern Europe, Spain is known as a part of Europe and has European culture, but unspokenly, Spain has been looked down upon by other Europeans as other, not “truly” European. Iago is appealing to the nationalistic side of Brabantio in order to corrupt him against Othello. One of the doctrines of Nationalism is the national purity of it’s citizens. The citizens of nation “A” should seek to procreate with other citizens of nation “A.” The procreation between citizens of nation, “A” with citizens of nation, “B” is only to be done sparingly, and only when it serves to benefit the nations that could not be had otherwise. In the case of Othello and Desdemona, they eloped without regard for proper protocol, without regard for the rules and regulations of high society, of the nation, of Venice. Roderigo under the corrupting influence of Iago in a plot to gain Desdemona for himself says to Brabantio in Act 1, Scene 1 lines 127-134, Do not believe that from the sense of all civility I thus would play and trifle with your reverence. Your daughter, if you have not given her leave, I say again, hath made a gross revolt, tying her duty, beauty, with, and fortunes in extravagant and wheeling stranger of here and everywhere. straight satisfy yourself. -- Othello, Act 1, Scene 1 lines 127-134 again giving nod to the same subtle usage of Nationalism and pointing out how he, Othello is an outsider, stating Othello is an, “extravagant and wheeling stranger of here and everywhere” is in a sense, saying to Brabantio that Desdemona has thrown away her, “duty, beauty, with, and fortunes” on a wandering nobody. This attempt is a direct appeal to Brabantio’s sense of nationalistic pride, and is using Nationalism here as a corrupting tool. In the first part of Act 1, Scene 2 Iago attempts to corrupt Othello against the Venetian aristocracy by telling him how horribly they spoke of him and how much harm they could do to him. Iago tells Othello how Brabantio is loved by the people and holds much influence and power beyond his rank. Iago plays on subtle Nationalistic notions and points out to Othello how Othello is once again considered an outsider. In Act 1, Scene 2, lines 17-28 Othello responds by saying, Let him do his spite. My services which I have done the Signiory shall out-tongue his complaints. ‘tis yet to know which when I know that boasting is an honor I shall promulgate – I fetch my life and being from men of royal siege, and my demerits may speak unbonneted to as proud a fortune as this that I have reached. for know, Iago, but that I love the gentile Desdemona, put into circumscription and confine for the seas’ worth. but lights come yond? Othello is forced to appeal to the ideology of Nationalism as being a servant of the nationalism of Venice, not a challenger. Othello is forced into a political goldilocks paradigm. Othello can never be a fully accepted member of the nation, of Venice, yet if in good faith he marries into a high standing family as he did, although not for political purposes but actual love, and gives of himself at a high level of servitude as he did, he is not met with the full negative forces of being and outsider of the nation. Othello, for now, is left unassaulted, but not bruised, by Iago’s and Roderigo’s attempts to use the ideology of Nationalism against Othello, yet everyone has been fully induced into the initial stages of corruption Iago has planted. This is as blatant as is the ideology of Nationalism is present in the play, “Othello.” In the play, “MacBeth” or “The Scottish Play,” Nationalism and Corruption are more present. Through prophecy and persuasion an increasingly corrupt MacBeth positions himself to gain the crown of Scotland. In “MacBeth," as with medieval other European monarchies, the idea is that the King (in the historical case of England and Spain, Queen) is the state/nation and serving the will of the King is serving the will of the state/nation. The conflict arises in, “MacBeth” when three witches tell MacBeth he will be King, as well as telling his good friend and fellow soldier Banquo, he will spawn a line of Kings. In the monarchal system of medieval Europe, there can only be one ruling King and typically that King’s children are the ones that inherit the thrown. The conflict is increased by the fact that neither of the men are in line to be King and there is already a reigning monarch at the start of the play. “MacBeth,” speaks to the notion of how a spark ambition and what one is willing to do to accomplish the goals of ambition can turn one to corruption and using Nationalism as part of an arsenal of corrupting tools. MacBeth’s wife fully embraces the corrupting notions of being a Queen, a head of state, when she receives MacBeth’s letter speaking of the prophecy foretold by the witches. Lady MacBeth pledges herself to do whatever she could to make the prophecy come true. As I wrote in another paper, the corruption of MacBeth has taken full effect and MacBeth goes, “. . .from a true nobleman with a heart and a sense of loyalty, duty, and a very present conscious to, by the time Lady MacBeth kills herself, a very heartless, cold, and power hungry man.” After MacBeth has killed Duncan, the rightful King of Scotland, and causes Malcolm and Donalbain, Duncan’s sons, to have fled to England, killed Banquo, MacBeth then uses the guise of Nationalism, the will of the King as being good for, and the will of the kingdom, to cause MacDuff to flee Scotland as a traitor and then have his killed his family. There are a select few that are willing to speak aloud, although not to his face, that all are not fully swept away in the new Nationalistic fever of praising MacBeth. In Act 3, Scene 4, lines 1-38 Lennox and Another random lord have a conversation amongst themselves, where they speak of the killing of Duncan, the fleeing of Malcolm, Donalbain, and McDuff, and openly refer to MacBeth as a tyrant. This conversation is Shakespeares way of telling the reader that all have not fully fallen under the persuasion of MacBeth’s unrightfull implantation of himself as being the head of the nation and therefore setting the stage for conflict between MacBeth’s brand of Nationalism and the version that others whom are not loyal to MacBeth subscribe hold. If the reader fully undertakes analysis of “MacBeth,” it is inferred that, Duncan the King of Scotland, has recently become so at the onset of “MacBeth” by having won a battle ousting the Thane of Cawdor and making MacBeth the new Thane. This notion is important because it plays against the theme of Nationalism and Corruption. If the reader is to assume that Duncan was a conquering force upon Scotland then his legitimacy to the throne of Scotland is only such because he took it by force. If this is true then it makes those loyal to Duncan, loyal to Malcolm, Donalbain, and McDuff no different than MacBeth. When reading “MacBeth,” the reader views MacBeth as a traitor and villain because he does not subscribe to the nationalistic ideology that has Duncan as head of state and corrupt for envisioning himself as head of state but factually Duncan, just as MacBeth, used Nationalism as a tool to establish himself as rightful monarch only more effectively having had other still loyal to him after his death and only having MacBeth revolt against him during his reign. It is because of MacBeth’s and Lady MacBeth’s ready willingness to pursue perceived corruption to supplant Duncan and implant themselves as head of state and then their latter succumbing to insanity, that reader views MacBeth’s and Lady MacBeth’s actions as corrupt when maybe, their actions might have been the very same as some of the actions of Duncan’s past. The message of Nationalistic legitimacy is the opposite, yet in some ways similar to the Nationalistic warning found in the play “Julius Caesar.” Cesar is already established as the head of state, of Rome, and the vast majority of Romans accept his legitimacy. There are some; however that when put under pressure and have a bit of cajoling applied to them, come to believe that Caesar is no longer serving the interest of the people of Rome or Rome its self but their own. Rome being a republic at this time, there is no unquestioned ruler, the ruler has to answer to the senate and even though we like to believe the senate represented the people, it did not. The senate of ancient Rome represented the interests the Roman aristocracy. Brutus is one man, of the aristocracy, that is different from rest in that he truly does believe in doing what is right for the people of Rome. In a paper about, “Julius Caesar” I wrote, “. . . it was not jealousy that caused Brutus to act. The love of Rome, the love of country and state, caused Brutus to kill the man [Caesar] he also claimed to love.” In, “Julius Caesar” the juxtaposition between the ideals of Nationalism are found. The one ideal in MacBeth were the King is the nation and the ideal found in more modern times where the people of the state, not just its head, are the state, are present. Brutus comes to reason that for the good of the nation, the good of Rome, to keep the established tenets of the latter ideals of Nationalism going not for personal gain, he must kill Caesar. This killing of Cesar, his dear friend, ultimately leads to his own death as well as Cesar’s, but Brutus believed that his death would be a small price to pay if the Nation, if Rome, would not be left in the hands of Caesar. Which Brutus perceived to be now and ultimately growing more corrupt. Brutus makes a mistake in believing that Mark Anthony poses no threat to his beloved Rome, and certainly not the threat present and perceived real threat in Caesar. The welfare of the nation of Rome and the corruption of Caesar is the focus of “Julius Caesar” whereas “Troilus & Cressida” draws on strains of Nationalism similar to that of MacBeth. The leaders and heroes of the Nations act in a manner that they say is best for the nations but like “MacBeth” the people and even some of the nobility realize that the war between the Greeks and Trojans is not something that benefits them but only serves to benefit to a very tragic detriment, the egos and pride of the various aristocrats, heroes, princes, and Kings involved. Another lesson of “Troilus & Cressida” is that if the will of the people is not supported by the rulers then it is no longer a republic but a vastly corrupt dictatorship and the people are non-entities of the nation and Nationalism is only lip service used by the nobility on a people that do not know any better or can do nothing about it. In these four plays Shakespeare examines Nationalism and corruption vaguely to very overtly and the effects on the leaders, would be leaders, participants and the average citizen of a nation. Nationalism, can be used as a tool unite a people, to rally them and throw off the shackles of oppression. Nationalism can also be misused by the leaders to only further themselves or their interests, all under the guise of being good for the nation. When this happens, or is revealed as having had happen, corruption has been in play, and eventually will take down the leader or person that is corrupt. Unlike the nicely well wrapped plays of Shakespeare, history shows us corrupt officials and people in power take time and blood to be toppled. In these plays Shakespeare gives the reader, and subsequently the viewer of the plays, a glimpse of the ideology that is Nationalism and Corruption as a doubled edge sword. If the wielder of that sword is not careful the wielder could find themselves on the receiving edge and the cut meant for someone else is the blow that brings them down.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Megargee

    I'd already read Hamlet and Othello, but getting Lear and Othello for only $1 still seemed like a worthwhile investment. In addition to the annotated text of each play, notes include how each play has actually been performed, Shakespeare's historical sources, and suggestions for further reading, almost 800 pages in all. That said, the print is small and the numerous footnotes tiny. I just finished Macbeth which I read in conjunction with Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare and plan to read Lear in th I'd already read Hamlet and Othello, but getting Lear and Othello for only $1 still seemed like a worthwhile investment. In addition to the annotated text of each play, notes include how each play has actually been performed, Shakespeare's historical sources, and suggestions for further reading, almost 800 pages in all. That said, the print is small and the numerous footnotes tiny. I just finished Macbeth which I read in conjunction with Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare and plan to read Lear in the near future. Asimov quotes a lady reading Shakespeare for the first time who was not impressed because all he did was string together a series of well known quotations one after the other. This book includes a four pages of memorable lines from each of the four plays, and Macbeth certainly had its fair share.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey Campbell

    This book is great in that it compiles Shakespeare's four main tragedies, but its font is very small, its pages are short, and putting together all of these texts makes it difficult to hold the book and flip the pages. The notes that go along with the plays are difficult to read because they are listed beneath each page of the play, and the formatting is just awkward. Definitely much harder to read than the Barnes & Noble Editions of Shakespeare's works. I think that the plays in this book ar This book is great in that it compiles Shakespeare's four main tragedies, but its font is very small, its pages are short, and putting together all of these texts makes it difficult to hold the book and flip the pages. The notes that go along with the plays are difficult to read because they are listed beneath each page of the play, and the formatting is just awkward. Definitely much harder to read than the Barnes & Noble Editions of Shakespeare's works. I think that the plays in this book are great, but the format and structure of the book make it difficult to read it. This edition would be something you could have to save room on your shelf (rather than having four separate books), and you could use this copy as a reference book and look up certain parts of the plays when you need to, but I wouldn't recommend this edition for pleasure reading.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Falk

    As heretical as it may sound, I find Shakespeare to be unparalleled in many ways if overrated. These four tragedies, especially, are fatalistic and deterministic (however explicitly otherwise at times), which is a flaw. However, the blank verse poetry is deservedly considered part of "the canon", and the characterizations are rich and deep. This edition has helpful footnotes, textual notes, and bibliographies--the editing seems exhaustive and learned.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Bobbitt

    4+ star stories, 2 star presentation. Another case of too much detracting from the stories. Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth are all great tales, but this format makes me less than likely to keep this book on my shelves due to its size and lacking portability.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    Better in movies

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jack Moody

    Duh.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    Had a whole class on Shakespeare in college. As we all know, he is the master and the work you put in to reading will be richly rewarded.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Four tragedies written by William Shakespeare are provided in this quite portable book. Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth all share the pages and are edited by four different people, one for each play. Because of this, the editing techniques, footnotes, and connotations tend to be different from play to play and it isn't recommended to sit down and try to read all four in one go. In particular, the editor for King Lear is very heavy handed in his edits and suggestions of meanings. Regardle Four tragedies written by William Shakespeare are provided in this quite portable book. Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth all share the pages and are edited by four different people, one for each play. Because of this, the editing techniques, footnotes, and connotations tend to be different from play to play and it isn't recommended to sit down and try to read all four in one go. In particular, the editor for King Lear is very heavy handed in his edits and suggestions of meanings. Regardless, that's really the only poor quality of the book. I, personally, really enjoy this book and the plays chosen. They are all similar in that they sport a common, tragic trait where human paranoia, fear, and deception of the self and from others forces powerful people to destroy not only themselves but those around them. It's a great viewing of the human soul and the chaos that can abound within if unchecked. Below are a brief synopsis for each play of the story that are really simplistic, but may help someone who is not used to or confident in reading barebones Shakespeare without translation. I like to say that Hamlet is the story of The Lion King to make it easier for readers to understand. An evil uncle usurps and kills the King, father to Hamlet, and Hamlet must come to terms with his mother's marrying of his uncle and avenge his slain father. However, unlike Disney, his hate and rage overtakes Hamlet, leaving him alone and unmanageable. Othello is interesting in that it focuses on racial connotations rather often, making it a great play to discuss from this perspective. Othello is a wonderfully brilliant Moorish soldier who will come to doubt all he holds dear due to an equally brilliant, conniving villain named Iago. No Disney references here, Iago makes himself akin to the Devil and works just as craftily in order to succeed. King Lear, perhaps my least favorite play, still has a great deal of merit. Old and outdated, King Lear wishes to divvy out his holdings to his three daughters, two of which are already married and also viciously desirous of power while the third is quite chaste and humble. Clouded by a simple mistake and love for his daughters, he shirks his third daughter while simultaneously giving all his power to the first two who work to strip Lear of his power. Finally, Macbeth, has the most supernatural forces at work of the four plays with the famous witches that force Macbeth to distance himself from all his allies and destroy himself. However, even without the witches, the play could run its course without the supernatural as Macbeth is guided by many regular individuals in the text to destruction based on a hope that he will come into great power.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Will

    Google “Shakespeare” and you will be met with over 36,000,000 results. On my page 14 I found the Shakespeare Animal Fund, and beyond that was Manga Shakespeare, workplace advice taken from Othello, a cluster of bull-shitty Thought Catalog articles, and Canadian Shakespeare. The list goes much further. What could I possibly add to a 400 year old discussion? Do I really need to add to that pile? Of course the answer is no, but we are so far beyond straws breaking camels’ backs, the camel now crushe Google “Shakespeare” and you will be met with over 36,000,000 results. On my page 14 I found the Shakespeare Animal Fund, and beyond that was Manga Shakespeare, workplace advice taken from Othello, a cluster of bull-shitty Thought Catalog articles, and Canadian Shakespeare. The list goes much further. What could I possibly add to a 400 year old discussion? Do I really need to add to that pile? Of course the answer is no, but we are so far beyond straws breaking camels’ backs, the camel now crushed beyond recognition, that I thought there’s no harm in adding my own humble contribution, another page or so to the endless body of works surrounding The Bard, quietly inching us towards the 37 million mark. My review: Shakespeare tells a good story, and writes a good character. I read four of his tragedies: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. They’re morbidly fascinating in their propensity to act as mirrors exposing human nature while allowing us to look over our shoulders, at least in the sense that cautionary tales give us pause. These plays often hearken to an end of days where death acts as tabula rasa; it’s questionable whether those spared are any more fortunate than those who died. The plays console us as we all face our own personal apocalypses, intimating that no one gets out alive. This edition is quite good for the price. The essays are worthwhile and there’s enough information to help springboard any further studies. Believe it or not, Breaking Bad inspired me to read this. The characters and their interactions felt shakespearean to me and I wanted to find out why. To list a few comparisons with no examples: family as a point of inevitable and terrible conflict, the dangers of unbridled ambition, how easily agency is lost if not used or another way to put it, what is lost when we don’t know ourselves, and lastly, that violence begets violence till it ultimately consumes itself. You can find plenty of articles about this online, most citing Macbeth as hugely influential to Walter White and the rest of the cast. It’s not a perfect comparison, but the parallels are there. If schooling has not beat all curiosity out of you for Shakespeare and what he’s inspired, I recommend you check him out, even as a revisit. There’s life still in these pages.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Hamlet (4/5): I read this for the first time several years ago and I find I appreciate more the older I get. Hamlet whines for three damn acts before he actually does anything but I'm much more interested in the struggle and the question of his 'madness' now than I was then. I also enjoy the writing a little bit more than the plot. I must say though I'm glad I'm not Horatio. What a guy to have as a friend! Othello (3/5): This one I enjoy more so for the character of Iago. Yes he is a completely l Hamlet (4/5): I read this for the first time several years ago and I find I appreciate more the older I get. Hamlet whines for three damn acts before he actually does anything but I'm much more interested in the struggle and the question of his 'madness' now than I was then. I also enjoy the writing a little bit more than the plot. I must say though I'm glad I'm not Horatio. What a guy to have as a friend! Othello (3/5): This one I enjoy more so for the character of Iago. Yes he is a completely loathsome individual, but he brings down so many people by subtle hints and insinuations. It's a wonderful tragedy, all the essential elements there, but I love this more for the structure than for the characters. Aside from Iago. He's the main character more than Othello is. King Lear (5/5): This one is perhaps a little but underestimated, or at least I think it is. This tragic hero's only fault is that he is getting older and is either lazy or trying to unburden himself. Then he is taken advantage of by his two older daughters and forsakes his youngest when she tells him the truth instead of just flattering him. Lear's fall into madness is upsetting but oh so real. The parallel plot with Gloucester and his sons is just as unfortunate and intriguing, the character of Edmund almost up there with Iago in my books. The last lines of the play spoken by Edgar sum it all up perfectly: "The weight of this sad time we must obey, Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say. The oldest hath borne most: we that are young Shall never see so much, nor live so long." Macbeth (5/5): And this is my favourite tragedy by far. We have the ultimate story of ambition killing someone. Macbeth shouldn't have been tempted by the witches and should have just been happy with the first promotion and shouldn't have killed in order to get another and kill even more to 'secure it'. Lots of memorable lines, a dash of the supernatural to emphasize the violation of the hierarchy of being (which is shown in Lear with the eclipse and crazy weather). Just all around great.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia

    Reviews of Hamlet and Macbeth can be found on other editions. Othello: Definitely one of my favorites of Shakespeare's plays! The irony was through the roof and it was just so fantastic! Yes, it's tragic but it was also kinda hilarious. Overall I have to give it a 5/5 stars. King Lear: Meh? I mean it was okay. But I felt like I was just missing stuff, which is unusual in Shakespeare. This was one of his last plays though so I think it wasn't quite finished. And it's different versions had a lot of Reviews of Hamlet and Macbeth can be found on other editions. Othello: Definitely one of my favorites of Shakespeare's plays! The irony was through the roof and it was just so fantastic! Yes, it's tragic but it was also kinda hilarious. Overall I have to give it a 5/5 stars. King Lear: Meh? I mean it was okay. But I felt like I was just missing stuff, which is unusual in Shakespeare. This was one of his last plays though so I think it wasn't quite finished. And it's different versions had a lot of conflicting accounts of what happened. There were literally different endings. Also the editor put in way too many unnecessary footnotes and it was annoying. Honestly I don't know how so many scholars think this is Shakespeare's best tragedy. I give it 3/5. Somewhat generously. Though that blinding of Gloucester scene was pretty epic if I do say so myself.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Thoroughly enjoyed these with great productions on DVD from Netflix and The Teaching Company course "Shakespeare's Tragedies" with lecturer Claire McKinney from University of Virginia. Movie versions I watched and recommend: Hamlet: Compare the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Hamlet starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart as Claudius (2009) with Kenneth Branagh's chandelier-swinging version (1996). Othello: Oliver Parker starring Laurence Fishburne as Othello and Kenneth Branagh as Iag Thoroughly enjoyed these with great productions on DVD from Netflix and The Teaching Company course "Shakespeare's Tragedies" with lecturer Claire McKinney from University of Virginia. Movie versions I watched and recommend: Hamlet: Compare the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Hamlet starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart as Claudius (2009) with Kenneth Branagh's chandelier-swinging version (1996). Othello: Oliver Parker starring Laurence Fishburne as Othello and Kenneth Branagh as Iago (1995). Macbeth: Rupert Goold's bloody totalitarian version of Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood (2010).

  17. 4 out of 5

    Pierre

    What can really be said about Shakespeare that does him justice or hasn't been said before? 'Not much' is the answer, but I always loved the following quote by Robert Graves: "The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he is really very good - in spite of all the people who say he is very good." And it's a thought that continues to shine in truth every time I read Shakespeare. He really is the grandaddy, the quarterback, the star, the most beautiful girl in school and so on and so forth. In sh What can really be said about Shakespeare that does him justice or hasn't been said before? 'Not much' is the answer, but I always loved the following quote by Robert Graves: "The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he is really very good - in spite of all the people who say he is very good." And it's a thought that continues to shine in truth every time I read Shakespeare. He really is the grandaddy, the quarterback, the star, the most beautiful girl in school and so on and so forth. In short, Shakespeare is fucking awesome, and this collection of his four major tragedies is bitchin'.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ned Huston

    These plays are not science fiction, not even close, so I don't know why this book was included in the list of science fiction books, but I have read them, and I recommend them--for viewing. If only read, these plays will not come to life. These plays were meant to be performed. No performance conveys the full potential of the play (and some are bad), so multiple versions are necessary. Reading the play helps, but I can't recommend reading alone. When you've seen these plays interpreted several These plays are not science fiction, not even close, so I don't know why this book was included in the list of science fiction books, but I have read them, and I recommend them--for viewing. If only read, these plays will not come to life. These plays were meant to be performed. No performance conveys the full potential of the play (and some are bad), so multiple versions are necessary. Reading the play helps, but I can't recommend reading alone. When you've seen these plays interpreted several ways, you get insights into their brilliant potential. You become more interested in the text. You begin to understand why Shakespeare's works are held in esteem.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tamara

    I originally bought this book years ago when we read Macbeth and Hamlet. I just finished King Lear and it was good (we read Othello earlier in high school). The thing I Telly like about this text is that it leaves the text itself pretty much alone. It does make notes, but they are all at the bottom of the page leaving the reader as interrupted as they choose. Its also really nice to have four of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies right there.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Carpenter

    Wow! My daughter gave me Shakespeare's Complete Works for Christmas last year (behind in notes and dates - strange year). I decided to read the 4 tragedies first. My mother's father (a teacher in the Appalachians) used to tell me Shakespeare plays as childhood stories but he would recite some soliloquies. My favorite was MacBeth because of the Lady MacBeth role. Thank you Grandpa and thank you Mom.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Noa

    First off you will be surprised to find out that 'Hamlet' alone was this lengthy. Secondly, it takes unbelievably long because of old archaic words that needs translation almost word by word. Yes, same English but how words have changed over time! Last but not least, you thought you knew about the story, maybe so, but not Hamlet himself until you read it with great concentration. Forget about different versions and missing parts. 'Cause you still have enough to carry on!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Max

    Good texts of four of Shakespeare's key plays. The Macbeth text includes some of the scenes with Hecate that were likely written by other authors, and the Hamlet text is inclusive of scenes that appear only in Q2. Those of you who haven't read these plays - drop what you're doing and get an edition and read them. The Ardens are the best, but if you are in China and only have access to the Bantam, then the Bantam it must be.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mitra Nazem

    From Othello the moor of Venice: Iago: ”Zound, sir ,you are robbed. For shame ,put on your gown, your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul. Even now ,very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise, awake the snorting citizens with the bell or else the devil will make a grandsire of you. Arie, I say.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Emilydokken

    I loved it. I have read Hamlet and watched the Branagh film of it too many times to count. I first read Hamlet in November of 2005. I read King Lear in the fall of 2008 and was in a play called Lear's Daughters where I played Regan. Othello I also read in the fall of 2008. I am embarrassed to admit I have never read Macbeth. There is nothing better than Shakespeare in my opinion.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    So I loved Othello because of Iago, and Macbeth was interesting because of Lady Macbeth. Lear, and Hamlet were okay, but they didn't really grab my attention. I'm seeing a pattern though, and it's pointing to deviously insane people. Especially because one of my favorite Harry Potter characters in Bellatrix.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Aya

    well.. my liking to these four tragedies varies from one to another. Yet I enjoyed the whole collection!! Feel like I would have never enjoy if I read some of them & left the others!! It was a pleasure to meet four different glorious personae, regfardless their flaws. It just helped me heave a deep sigh of releif saying to myself: it's not only me who make disateroud things :-|

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    What is there to say? This anthology contains four of Shakespeare's best plays. They are completely engaging and awesome in every way. My only criticism is of a lack of critical texts that are usually accompanied with the signet classic Shakespeare books. Nevertheless, this is a great collection of plays that no doubt will entertain anyone who chooses to read it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kenny

    Introductions for each play give a brief synopsis, inserting factoids like, Hamlet is the longest play, Macbeth is the shortest, as well as, the ways Shakespeare himself adapted many of the plays from earlier sources. According to Prof. Huang, "Folgers is good for K-12, but this is for serious grad students." Emphasis on serious.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mercer

    i'm rereading hamlet for the first time since high school, and this time around, my favorite line comes from polonius: this is too long. that guy cracks me up. i read the history plays earlier this summer, and the difference between their more-or-less constant plot movement and hamlet's indecision is pretty great. i think prince hal might have finished off claudius while he was praying.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Madhura Gurav

    As the name suggests, all the plays have tragic endings. Although, one hopes that it were not so; at the same time, you realise that the tragic ending is what 'maketh' them realistic. Such is the power of Shakespeare's writing. His plays portray emotions and feelings of jealousy, envy, rage and revenge.

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