The Shakespeare Archive

Below is a synopsis of Shakespeare's comedies and tragedies in alphabetical order

Shakespeare's Tragedies

Antony and Cleopatra narrates the disastrous effects of the affair between Roman leader Mark Antony and Queen Cleopatra. Following several up and downs in their relationship, Cleopatra has Antony believe that she has comitted suicide, to which he responds with the same action. Unable to withstand betrayal and the loss of her freedom and wealth, Cleopatra kills herself.

Coriolanus describes a tumultous period of riots in Rome and the role of general Caius Martius (Coriolanus himself) in several battles and sieges over the empire's capital.

Cymbeline describes the love story between King Cymbelin's daughter Imogen and her lover Posthumus amid a battle between Britons and Romans. The pair are happily married following false accusations and years of separation.

Hamlet is set at the Danish Royal court, and it narrates the story of Prince Hamlet and his attempt to avenge his father's death. After several unfortunate mistakes, Hamlet and his loved ones die poisoned.

Julius Caesar details the conspiracy that ended with Julius Caesar's life and the disputes that eventually result in the death of the emperor's assassins.

King Lear describes the family feud that takes place between King Lear's three daughters over their father's inheritance and their betrayal at the hands of their husbands.

Macbeth - This famous play describes the rise to power of general Macbeth and his wife, and the crimes they commit in their haste to become rulers, before succumbing to guilt and betrayal.

Othello narrates a complex love triangle in which Othello and his wife Desdemona are the main characters. Suspecting adultery, Othello smothers his wife only to realise his innocence, after which he kills himself.

Romeo and Juliet - The love story par excellence depicts the effects of a feud between Verona's Capulet and Montague families, which ends up by destroying the lives of the famous couple.

Timon of Athens is the story of a wealthy noble who gives away his fortune only to regret it afterwards. Let down by his former former friends and bankrupt, he escapes to the woods, where he finds a gold mine. Regardless his newly-found wealth, Timon dies alone.

Titus Andronicus narrates the quarrels between the various successors to the Roman Emperor, one of which is Titus. Rape, cannibalism, and betrayal are the main ingredients of this somber story.

Troilus and Cressida takes place during the Trojan Wars and describes the love story and subsequent separation of this couple as a result of the squirmishes between Greeks and Trojans.

Shakespeare's Comedies

All's Well that Ends Well narrates the story of French Count Bertram, who reluctantly marries Helena at the King's request. Feeling unwanted, Helena allies with other women to destroy Bertram's reputation.

As You Like It describes the parallel love stories between Rosalind, Orlando, Silvius, and Phebe, who are forced to live in hiding until the Duchy is restored to its legitimate owner.

The Comedy of Errors describes the misadventures suffered by two pairs of twins, who try to keep each other from success and happiness until their true identities are revealed.

Love's Labour's Lost deals with the unsuccessful attempts to become and remain celibate on the part of a Spanish King and three of his closest men.

Measure for Measure describes the efforts of the Duke of Vienna to invalidate the marriage of Juliet and Claudio. Justice is eventually made when the Duke's intentions are revealed and he is forced into a marriage he does not desire.

The Merchant of Venice narrates the unlikely love story between a wealthy Venetian lady and her cash-strapped suitor, who takes on a risky loan in order to be able to marry her beloved.

The Merry Wives of Windsor tells of Falstaff's attempts to marry into wealth and how his potential wives tease him and trick him to his embarrassment and to the amusement of the audience.

A Midsummer Night's Dream depicts several interlocking love stories along with the events surrounding the creation of a tragicomic play that is meant to question the nature of dreams and reality.

Much Ado About Nothing is the story of two couples who have opposing views on love and on whether relationships are public or private affairs.

Taming of the Shrew describes the efforts made by Petruchio in order to convince stubborn Katherina to become his bride and an obedient companion.

The Tempest is a story of revenge and forgiveness between two brothers, after one of them is sent to a deserted island and he conjures a storm to disrupt his brother's plans.

The Twelfth Night narrates the story of two brothers who are separated after a shipwreck. Disguised as a man, the sister becomes the love interest of other women.

Two Gentlemen of Verona describes the misadventures of two friends and their melodramatic love affairs, which deal with the subjects of fidelity and forgiveness.

A Winter's Tale talks of the effects of King Leontes' unfounded suspicions over his wife's faithfulness, which result in the death of his loved ones.