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Sunday, July 13, 2008


List-a-holic: Shakespeare's Best

The List Universe has ranked Shakespeare's ten best plays...and somehow left King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing and others off the list. I realize it's difficult to rank masterpieces against one another (and it's all subjective, of course), but omitting Lear, in particular, strikes me as very problematic. I'll rank thusly (and perennial favorites, like the sexist "comedies" Midsummer Night's Dream and Taming of the Shrew, are purposeful omissions):

HM: Richard III
10. The Merchant of Venice
The Tempest
8. Henry V
Twelfth Night
Much Ado about Nothing
4. Othello
3. Romeo and Juliet
2. King Lear
1. Hamlet

Most Underrated: Timon of Athens
Most Overrated: A Midsummer Night's Dream
Most In Need Of A Big Revival: The Comedy of Errors
Most Difficult To Pull Off Successfully: The Winter's Tale

What sayeth you, ye Shakespearean scholars?

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Blogger par3182 said...

i love a good tragedy...

06. romeo & juliet
05. the tempest
04. richard III
03. king lear
02. twelfth night
01. macbeth

7/13/08, 2:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After having just had to read 'Hamlet' for my summer lit class... I would have to say that Hamlet is a bit overrated. Hamlet is too emo, and Claudius is vastly underdeveloped. And in the 2000 movie version we were forced to watch and write a paper on, Ethan Hawke was particularly useless on film, while Julia Stiles made an incredible Ophelia, pulling off a range of emotions and action with only her facial expressions as tools.

I do have to credit Midsummer as being an easy lightning rod to getting the non-literate into Shakespeare.

I can't yet pick a favorite though. Ask again in a few more years. With a gun to my head... I'd probs pick Macbeth. I dig witches.

7/13/08, 5:16 AM  
Blogger Barry Rowell said...

I definitely agree about and Midsummer: if I never see it again, I'll be okay with that; Twelfth Night would be a close second there but only because I've seen so many really bad productions of it. I'd probably put Richard III on and take R&J out but that may be because I've rarely seen a good R&J and I've seen two really good Richards by Denzel Washington and Ian McKellen (the movie, alas, not onstage). I'm a big fan of Titus Andronicus, but that's only because it's "the Elizabethan Texas Chainsaw Massacre," as one of my professors called it. Love's Labors Lost is a personal favorite (would love to have played Berowne, but too old now) and also one that's difficult to pull off (in addition to being the only play with 4 decent roles for women), but nowhere near as hard as Winter's Tale. In terms of the Histories, I can't argue with Henry V being on the list but I personally prefer I Henry IV: it's Falstaff and Hal!

7/14/08, 11:37 AM  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

i'm gonna say

04 Hamlet
03 Much Ado About Nothing
02 Romeo & Juliet
01 Macbeth

with a most overrated going to Hamlet -- even though it is unarguably brilliant. I don't really see how it is so obviously better than all the others (according to everyone in the known universe) considering what we're also getting in Romeo & Juliet and Macbeth and numerous others.

7/14/08, 2:40 PM  
Blogger dthomasg said...

King John: Very underrated, three *great* roles for women, *AND* it has a jump-cut! (III, i to III, ii--hilarious!)

Never seen it performed, and I can't imagine why.

7/14/08, 7:53 PM  

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