Top 10 William Shakespeare Plays

Top 10 William Shakespeare Plays

Updated on August 20, 2022 22:33 PM by Ava Sara

When Shakespeare's death was commemorated in 2016—the 400th anniversary—we asked you to vote on the plays you believed was the best. Would A Midsummer Night's Dream or Hamlet, two of William Shakespeare's most popular plays, take first place?

Or perhaps one of the obscure cult favorites—anyone for an unexpected upset from 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona'? Here are the results of our final Shakespeare play-top off's 10.

Every Shakespeare enthusiast has a short list of Bard's best works. I have liked each play numerous times, but I have narrowed my list of favorites to the following ten.

We can all agree that reading and understanding Old English can be challenging, but Shakespeare is more than just his English.

Shakespeare created some of the best literary works by focusing on comedy and drama. Shakespeare has written plays in various genres, including romance, comedy, thriller, psycho-thriller, and drama.

Shakespeare worked with literary themes while writing about their love for politics and love for politics. Directors like Gulzar, Supria Chakraborty, and Vishal Bharadwaj, among others.

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Here are the top 10 best William Shakespeare plays

1. Hamlet

Since its first performance, Hamlet has captivated audiences, delighted readers, and tested even the most talented actors. No other single work of literature has given rise to more idioms. You are repeating the philosopher-prince if you have a deep conviction that every dog will get their due.

Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet (/haemlt/), also known as The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, was written between 1599 and 1601. With 29,551 words, it is Shakespeare's longest play.

The play, set in Denmark, tells the story of Prince Hamlet and his quest for vengeance against his uncle Claudius, who killed Hamlet's father to usurp the kingdom and wed Hamlet's mother.

With a tale that can 'seemingly be endlessly repeated and changed by others,' Hamlet is regarded as one of the most significant and essential works of literature in history. 

It was one of Shakespeare's most well-known plays during his lifetime and continues to be one of his most often performed plays. Since 1879, the Royal Shakespeare Company and its predecessors have performed most of it in Stratford-upon-Avon.

It has inspired numerous authors, including James Joyce, Iris Murdoch, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It has been called 'the world's most filmed narrative after Cinderella.

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2. Macbeth

Shakespeare's unmatched ability to present a gripping story with sublime poetic imagery has never failed to impress me. I appreciate it even more, when I read this whirling tale of murder, betrayal, and lustful ambition.

Macbeth is unparalleled in the annals of tragic theatre in our time.

Macbeth is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. It is believed that the first instance of it occurred in 1606. The detrimental physical and psychological ramifications of political ambition on people who aspire to power are dramatized.

Shakespeare's play Macbeth, which was written during the reign of James I, best captures his relationship with the monarch who supported his theatre company.

Shakespeare's shortest tragedy was first printed in the Folio of 1623, possibly from a prompt book.

Three witches give a strong Scottish general named Macbeth a prophecy that he will one day rule Scotland. Macbeth kills King Duncan to seize the Scottish throne because he is driven by ambition and is prodded into action by his wife.

The shame and paranoia that follows overwhelm him. He quickly becomes a despotic tyrant as he is forced to carry out more and more killings to shield himself from hostility and suspicion.

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth quickly enter the realms of lunacy and death due to the bloodshed and civil war.

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3. Julius Caesar

Shakespeare's insightful examination of political life in ancient Rome is the only one to describe the downfall of Brutus and the other conspirators, despite earlier Elizabethan plays on Julius Caesar and his turbulent rule.

 William Shakespeare's historical drama and tragedy, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, was originally produced in 1599 under the First Folio title, The Tragedie of Ivlivs Caesar.

In the play, Brutus takes part in Cassius' plot to kill Julius Caesar to stop him from rising to power. Rome becomes a catastrophic civil war after Antony, Caesar's right-hand man, incites animosity toward the conspirators.

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4. The Tempest

The Tempest is a play that extols the virtues of amity and forgiveness. It has been hailed as the culmination of England's favorite dramatist's career.

Some think Prospero's final monologues represent Shakespeare's departure from the stage.

The Tempest, a play by English playwright William Shakespeare, is believed to be one of his final works. It was most likely composed between 1610 and 1611.

The majority of the play is set on a remote island where the sorcerer Prospero, a complex and contradictory character, lives with his daughter Miranda and his two servants, Caliban, a ferocious monster figure, and Ariel, an ethereal spirit, after the first scenes, which take place on a ship at sea during a storm.

The show includes songs and music that capture the magical atmosphere of the island. Numerous themes are covered, such as magic, betrayal, retaliation, and family.

A bridal masque acts as a play within a play in Act IV and adds spectacle, metaphor, and sophisticated vocabulary.

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5. Henry IV

 William Shakespeare's play about Henry IV is regarded by many as his best historical work. According to John Dryden, Shakespeare was the man who, of all modern and perhaps even ancient writers, had the greatest and most thorough spirit.

This is backed up by the instantly identifiable figures Hotspur, Prince Hal, King Henry, and the jovial John Falstaff. 

Shakespeare's historical drama Henry IV, Part 1 (commonly referred to as 1 Henry IV) is thought to have been composed no later than 1597.

The Battle of Shrewsbury in the middle of King Henry IV of England's reign is depicted in the play, which begins with the battle at Homildon Hill late in 1402 and ends with his victory. 

The drama describes the misadventures of King Henry's son, Prince Hal (the future King Henry V), and his eventual return to court and favor, parallel to the political fight between King Henry and a rebellious band of nobility.

Henry IV, Part 1 is the first of Shakespeare's two plays on Henry IV's reign (Henry IV, Part 2 is the other). It is also the second in the Henriad, a modern term for the tetralogy of plays about Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V. It has enjoyed enormous public and critical acclaim since its debut performance.

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6. King Lear

King Lear is the most intricate and analytical of all of Shakespeare's great tragedies while having a rather straightforward main plot about an old king who decides to split his realm among his three daughters.

The play effectively examines the infinity of evil, pain, and love.

William Shakespeare wrote the tragedy King Lear. It is based on Britain's mythical Leir. King Lear shares his authority and land with two of his daughters in anticipation of his impending old age.

He degenerates into an impoverished, mad target of political intrigue. Shakespeare's play was performed for the first time in any known form on St. Stephen's Day in 1606.

The three existing publications—the 1608 quarto, the 1619 quarto, and the 1623 First Folio—are where modern editors draw their texts. The folio version and the quarto version are very different from one another.

Shakespeare's original play has been acknowledged as one of his greatest accomplishments since the 19th century.

After the English Restoration, the play was frequently rewritten for audiences who despised its dark and depressing tone. The play has been widely adapted, and great actors have vied for both the lead and supporting roles.

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7. Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet were immensely well-liked from its first performance and praised for its brilliance of lyric poetry. Young Tudor lovers' tender murmurs were frequently considered 'nothing but pure Romeo and Juliet' throughout the kingdom.

Early in his writing career, William Shakespeare created the tragedy Romeo and Juliet, which is about two young Italian loves who are star-crossed and whose death reconciles their feuding families.

It was one of Shakespeare's plays performed the most during his lifetime, along with Hamlet, and it is still produced frequently. The main characters are now viewed as ordinary young lovers. 

A lengthy tradition of tragic love stories that date back to antiquity includes Romeo and Juliet. The two works on which the plot is based are William Painter's Palace of Pleasure and The Tragical History of Romeo and Juliet, both of which Arthur Brooke translated into poetry in 1562 and 1567, respectively.

Shakespeare took a lot of inspiration from both, but he also added new elements to the story by creating a cast of supporting figures, especially Mercutio and Paris. The drama, which is thought to have been written between 1591 and 1595, was originally printed in quarto form in 1597.

However, the first quarto version's text was of low quality, and later printings modified it to make it more accurate to Shakespeare's original.

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8. King John

This underappreciated masterwork is hidden in the shadow of Shakespeare's second tetralogy of history plays. Shakespeare's worst artistic failure is said to be this play, which is a terrible curse.

Never before has such great work received such persistently low ratings. King John deserves rediscovery due to its compelling plot, enduring poetry, and deft blending of Tudor and Machiavellian notions of the reign.

William Shakespeare's historical play The Life and Death of King John dramatize the reign of John, King of England (reigned 1199–1216). He was the father of Henry III of England and the son of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Although it is thought to have been composed in the middle of the 1590s, the First Folio didn't print until 1623.

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9. The Winter`s Tale

Although The Winter's Tale is categorized as a romantic comedy, it also contains tragic overtones. One of Shakespeare's last plays, it was first performed at the Globe sometime about 1610.

For a first-person account of The Winter's Tale's production in Shakespeare's London.

Shakespeare's play The Winter's Tale was first released in the First Folio in 1623. Many contemporary editors have renamed the play one of Shakespeare's late romances even though it was originally classified as a comedy.

Because the first three acts have deep psychological drama while the final two are comedic and provide a joyful conclusion, some critics label it one of Shakespeare's 'problem plays.'

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10. Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing's cheerful ending is what qualifies the play as a comedy. The wonderful cast of supporting characters, which astound us with their wit and confound us with their craziness, is where the drama's real humor lies.

 William Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing is assumed to have been composed between 1598 and 1599. The First Folio, which was printed in 1623, contained the play.

The drama is set in Messina and centers on two romantic connections resulting from several troops showing up in the community. Claudio and Hero's first encounter is almost changed by the villain Don John's allegations.

As the play progresses, the second romance—between Claudio's friend Benedick and Hero's cousin Beatrice—takes center stage, with most of the humor coming from both characters' wit and banter.

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