How many tragedies did Shakespeare write, and why have we chosen to study only four of them? Shakespeare’s plays were published together for the first time seven years after his death, in the First Folio of 1623. Twelve plays are included as ‘Tragedies’ in the First Folio. Troilus and Cressida was withdrawn and then re-inserted during printing, and is now more commonly grouped with ‘problem plays’. Cymbeline is clearly not a tragedy. It belongs with the late ‘romance’ plays or tragi-comedies. Julius Caesar, Titus Andronicus, Coriolanus and Antony and Cleopatra are chronicles of Roman history, but they could all make a claim to be ‘tragic’ plays. Romeo and Juliet and Timon of Athens are arguably tragedies, although Romeo and Juliet was written in the early 1590s, ten years before the earliest of the others, and is a different kind of play, being a double love-tragedy. The remaining four, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth and King Lear are the subject of this volume.
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- The Tragedies in Shakespeare’s Works
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