Which is the Best Shakespeare Play?


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The great English bard wrote so many plays over the course of so many years. They were all written to entertain but which one of his plays was the best one? Shakespeare wrote three types of play; History, Comedy and Tragedy. It would be very difficult to select which one is the best out of all the genres so I will select the best from each one and discuss why it is the best.

History: This category will have a brief look at the English history plays. It seems unfair to exclude the Roman plays but there are so many to choose from I had to start somewhere. They are often regarded as Tudor Propaganda warning against the dangers of civil war which was a threat at the time of writing. I have chosen Henry V as the best history play; this is due to the excellent characters found there. It tells the story of Henry V and depicts his time before and after the battle of Agincourt (1418).

The audience would have been familiar with the characters already due to their appearances in previous plays view them like a series and the continuation to the battle is wonderfully scripted. The St Crispin's Day Speech before the battle is one of the best ever written and often quoted, we few, we happy few, we band of brothers". Another famous quote from this play is from the scene depicting the siege of Harfleur, Once more into the breach dear friends. With lines like this, there really was no other choice for the best history play.

Comedy: Shakespearean comedy is vastly different to what we view as comedy in the modern time. They usually end happily with unmarried couples getting married at the end. There are usually disputes between two couples, a witty servant and difficulties presented by the older generation getting in the way of true love. There is also the heavy use of subplots and a variety of comedic devices, such as puns, banter and slapstick. The best play in this genre is The Comedy of Errors. It involves two sets of identical twins, mistaken identity, a wrongful beating and even one of the characters being arrested. It ends happily, as is essential for the genre and is a delight to read and watch.

Tragedy: It would be wrong to not point out that there are different types of tragedy plays and Shakespeare wrote both. There are revenge tragedies, where someone is killed, their ghost returns and they get someone to carry out an act of revenge on their behalf so their spirit can go to heaven. These plays usually end in the death of everyone involved, including the revenger. They were very popular during the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods and there are many that are still performed today.

Hamlet, is the best one that Shakespeare wrote. The reason for this is the complexity of the characters leaves the audience wondering who the villain really is. Hamlet himself seems an incompetent or reluctant killer and the ghost of his dead father paints his murderer as a brutal killer yet when the character is on stage, he is portrayed as a decent man. There are so many depths to Hamlet that it remains one of the most popular plays today. The other type of tragedy is the personal tragedy, which includes plays like Romeo and Juliet.

This was not an easy choice for any of the categories; Shakespeare wrote so many brilliant plays that to choose just three of them was tough. My personal favorite is Hamlet due to the complexities mentioned above but I have always been partial to revenge tragedies. The only way to find out which Shakespeare play is the best is to go and read them and discover his wonderful works for yourself, with writing as wonderful as his, there really is no better way to spend an evening either reading or watching them.

Written by : Debbie Rushby, Hull, UK (BA Hons English 2:1)

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

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