Shakespeare’s plays are often classified into ‘groups’ or categories, as ‘Comedies’, ‘Histories’, ‘Tragedies’, ‘The Late Romances’ and ‘Roman Plays’; and critics have made a number of efforts to find a satisfactory label for these three plays, which do not fit snugly into any of the major classifications. They have seemed to be a group because they were probably written within the same three years, and there are some obvious similarities between them, which we will explore in this book; but we will not draw conclusions about Shakespeare himself; nor will we struggle to label them as any particular kind of play. Indeed, one of the questions to have in mind, when beginning to study All’s Well that Ends Well, Measure for Measure and Troilus and Cressida, is: why have critics felt such an earnest desire to classify them?
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