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William Shakespeare and his greatest tragedies

“Shakespeare was not of an age, but for all time”

The above quoted line is rightly said about the ‘Bard of Avon’ by the famous contemporary dramatist Ben Jonson. This dramatic genius was born on 26th April, 1564 in Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire, England. That’s the reason he was called the Swan or Bard of Avon. Since the ancient times, there have been so many literary scholars and philosophers like Homer, Dante, Dickens, Plato and others who have achieved international recognition, but no one was admired like William Shakespeare. He was not only the master of British drama, but also a person with poetic genius. His tragedies, especially those four (Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth) are the greatest among others. In this article we’ll try to shed light on these tragedies one by one-

Hamlet, the first among them

The protagonist Hamlet was shocked and grieved to know about his father’s death. He meets the ghost of his father which confronts him that the present king, his uncle murders his father and marries his mother. Hamlet was shocked to know the truth, but he wanted to confirm before killing his uncle Claudius, so he arranged a play ‘The Mousetrap’ whose story resembles the ghost story and this unnerves Claudius. After so many incidents and fights, everybody dies except Horatio, who is left to recount the event as the Norwegian Prince arrives with his army.

Othello, Moor of Venice

This play is derived from the plot of Giambattista Giraldi’s De gli Hecatommithi. The play begins with the argument between Desdemona’s father and Iago, who is basically the conspirator in the play. Othello married Desdemona against her father’s wish and became the lieutenant which infuriates Iago. Therefore, he tried to infiltrate the misunderstanding between Othello and Desdemona. Iago consciously plotted a narrative of Desdemona’s affair with Cassio, which enrages Othello in such a way that he kills his wife. After that when he came to know the truth, he commits suicide out of guilt. The play ends with Lodovico’s speech where he orders the execution of Iago.

Macbeth, his shortest tragedy

The tragedy of Macbeth focuses on power, greed and over-ambition. Macbeth meets three witches while returning from a war and they prophesied that he will become the king. Then he and his wife killed Duncan, the existing king and Macbeth became the king. To hide or justify this crime, they have committed several crimes which ultimately lead them to destruction. Finally, Lady Macbeth commits suicide and Macbeth was killed at the battle field by Macduff.

Thus, these plays clearly justify the definition of tragedy, which refers to a play that begins prosperously and endeth unfortunately.’


Sohini is a journalism and mass communication enthusiast from Kolkata with an extreme interest in creative writing. Focused on entertainment, health and lifestyle, her stories could make your net surfing much more interesting.
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