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SHAKESPEARE CANON

Reference Page



This is your source for all things Shakespeare, be it summaries, links to text of plays/sonnets, shared bunnies, information on how to follow in the Bard's footsteps, whatever. If you have a prompt to provide, this is the right place to leave it. If you have technical questions about Shakespeare, this is where you ask them. If you need help sorting out which is Edgar and which is Edmund, or can't figure out whether Draco is more Katherina or Bianca, you can ask those here too, and we'll do our best to help.


PLAYS


COMEDIES
Title Wiki link SparkNotes link text Keywords
The Tempest wiki sparknotes text magic, kingship, colonialism, the theatre
The Two Gentlemen of Verona wiki sparknotes text friendship vs love, mistaken identity, cross-dressing, infidelity
The Merry Wives of Windsor wiki sparknotes text love, marriage, jealousy, revenge, infidelity, class/wealth
Measure for Measure wiki sparknotes text chastity vs promiscuity, manipulation, sex, hypocrisy
The Comedy of Errors wiki sparknotes text disguise, appearance vs reality, love, time, coincidence, insanity
Much Ado About Nothing wiki sparknotes text love, manipulation, deception, infidelity, wordplay
Love's Labour's Lost wiki sparknotes text academia, chastity, unexpected love, politics
A Midsummer Night's Dream wiki sparknotes text magic, nature, mischief, lover's quarrels
The Merchant of Venice wiki sparknotes text religion, politics, homosexuality, fidelity
As You Like It wiki sparknotes text language, pastoralism, coming-of-age
Taming of the Shrew wiki sparknotes text temper, favouritism, misogynism
All's Well That Ends Well wiki sparknotes text marriage, manipulation, cowardice, war
Twelfth Night, or What You Will wiki sparknotes text cross-dressing, mistaken identity, siblings, unrequited love
The Winter's Tale wiki sparknotes text infidelity, family, nature
Cymbeline wiki sparknotes text conspiracy, secrets, disguise, war
TRAGEDIES
Title Wiki link SparkNotes link text Keywords
Romeo and Juliet wiki sparknotes text forbidden love, family feud, suicide
Coriolanus wiki sparknotes text riot, war, politics, revenge
Titus Andronicus wiki sparknotes text revenge, violence, murder, rape, madness
Timon of Athens wiki sparknotes text money, society, betrayal
Julius Caesar wiki sparknotes text betrayal, conspiracy, murder, politics
Macbeth wiki sparknotes text murder, magic, manipulation, insanity, tyranny
Hamlet wiki sparknotes text conspiracy, murder, family, revenge, introspection, insanity
Troilus and Cressida wiki sparknotes text sex, war, thwarted expectations
King Lear wiki sparknotes text family, betrayal, politics, insanity
Othello wiki sparknotes text manipulation, race, suspicion, infidelity
Antony and Cleopatra wiki sparknotes text ambivalence, opposition, politics, war
HISTORIES
Title Wiki link SparkNotes link text Keywords
King John wiki sparknotes text alliance, line of succession, self-interest
Richard II wiki sparknotes text money, law, tyranny
Henry IV, part 1 wiki sparknotes text rebellion, slumming, politics
Henry IV, part 2 wiki sparknotes text politics, coming of age
Henry V wiki sparknotes text war, assassination, foiled plots
Henry VI, part 1 wiki sparknotes text war, foiled plots, line of succession
Henry VI, part 2 wiki sparknotes text marriage, treason, rebellion
Henry VI, part 3 wiki sparknotes text politics, war, murder, vengeance
Richard III wiki sparknotes text ambition, jealousy, villainy, regicide
Henry VIII wiki sparknotes text marriage, religion
OTHER (The Apocrypha, Lost Plays, and Poetry)
Title Wiki link SparkNotes link text Keywords
The Birth of Merlin wiki --- text love, social class, spirituality/religion, magic
Locrine wiki --- text history, nationality
The London Prodigal wiki --- text money, marriage, disguise
Pericles, Prince of Tyre wiki --- text incest, competition, life and death, fate
The Puritan wiki --- text socioeconomics, deception
The Second Maiden's Tragedy wiki --- text sadism, necrophilia, seduction, manipulation, jealousy
Sir John Oldcastle wiki --- text religion, rebellion, martyrdom
Thomas Lord Cromwell wiki --- text politics, religion, power
The Two Noble Kinsmen wiki --- text friendship, rivalry, love
A Yorkshire Tragedy wiki --- text cruelty, gambling, violence, shame, guilt
Edward III wiki --- text politics, war, seduction
Love's Labour's Won wiki --- --- love, marriage
Cardenio wiki --- --- love, betrayal
Venus and Adonis wiki --- text love, mythology, aetiology
The Rape of Lucrece wiki --- text rape, suicide, politics
The Passionate Pilgrim wiki --- text love, beauty, time
The Phoenix and the Turtle wiki --- text allegory, idealism, love, death
A Lover's Complaint wiki --- text nature, love, sadness





SONNETS


PROCREATION ARC (themes: beauty, mortality, heritage)
Sonnet 1.     From fairest creatures we desire increase
Sonnet 2.    When forty winters shall beseige thy brow
Sonnet 3.    Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest
Sonnet 4.    Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
Sonnet 5.    Those hours, that with gentle work did frame
Sonnet 6.    Then let not winter's ragged hand deface
Sonnet 7.    Lo! in the orient when the gracious light
Sonnet 8.    Music to hear, why hear'st thou music sadly?
Sonnet 9.    Is it for fear to wet a widow's eye
Sonnet 10.   For shame! deny that thou bear'st love to any


Sonnet 11.   As fast as thou shalt wane, so fast thou growest
Sonnet 12.   When I do count the clock that tells the time
Sonnet 13.   O, that you were yourself! but, love, you are
Sonnet 14.   Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck
Sonnet 15.   When I consider every thing that grows
Sonnet 16.   But wherefore do not you a mightier way
Sonnet 17.   Who will believe my verse in time to come


FAIR YOUTH ARC (themes: love, beauty, sex, submission, time, mortality)
Sonnet 18.   Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Sonnet 19.   Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws
Sonnet 20.   A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted


Sonnet 21.   So is it not with me as with that Muse
Sonnet 22.   My glass shall not persuade me I am old
Sonnet 23.   As an unperfect actor on the stage
Sonnet 24.   Mine eye hath play'd the painter and hath stell'd
Sonnet 25.   Let those who are in favour with their stars
Sonnet 26.   Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage
Sonnet 27.   Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed
Sonnet 28.   How can I then return in happy plight
Sonnet 29.   When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes
Sonnet 30.   When to the sessions of sweet silent thought


Sonnet 31.   Thy bosom is endeared with all hearts
Sonnet 32.   If thou survive my well-contented day
Sonnet 33.   Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Sonnet 34.   Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day
Sonnet 35.   No more be grieved at that which thou hastdone:
Sonnet 36.   Let me confess that we two must be twain
Sonnet 37.   As a decrepit father takes delight
Sonnet 38.   How can my Muse want subject to invent
Sonnet 39.   O, how thy worth with manners may I sing
Sonnet 40.   Take all my loves, my love, yea, take them all


Sonnet 41.   Those petty wrongs that liberty commits
Sonnet 42.   That thou hast her, it is not all my grief
Sonnet 43.   When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see
Sonnet 44.   If the dull substance of my flesh were thought
Sonnet 45.   The other two, slight air and purging fire
Sonnet 46.   Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war
Sonnet 47.   Betwixt mine eye and heart a league is took
Sonnet 48.   How careful was I, when I took my way
Sonnet 49.   Against that time, if ever that time come
Sonnet 50.   How heavy do I journey on the way


Sonnet 51.   Thus can my love excuse the slow offence
Sonnet 52.   So am I as the rich, whose blessed key
Sonnet 53.   What is your substance, whereof are you made
Sonnet 54.   O, how much more doth beauty beauteous seem
Sonnet 55.   Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Sonnet 56.   Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said
Sonnet 57.   Being your slave, what should I do but tend
Sonnet 58.   That god forbid that made me first your slave
Sonnet 59.   If there be nothing new, but that which is
Sonnet 60.   Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore


Sonnet 61.   Is it thy will thy image should keep open
Sonnet 62.   Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye
Sonnet 63.   Against my love shall be, as I am now
Sonnet 64.   When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced
Sonnet 65.   Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea
Sonnet 66.   Tired with all these, for restful death I cry
Sonnet 67.   Ah! wherefore with infection should he live
Sonnet 68.   Thus is his cheek the map of days outworn
Sonnet 69.   Those parts of thee that the world's eye doth view
Sonnet 70.   That thou art blamed shall not be thy defect


Sonnet 71.   No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Sonnet 72.   O, lest the world should task you to recite
Sonnet 73.   That time of year thou mayst in me behold
Sonnet 74.   But be contented: when that fell arrest
Sonnet 75.   So are you to my thoughts as food to life
Sonnet 76.   Why is my verse so barren of new pride
Sonnet 77.   Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear
Sonnet 78.   So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse
Sonnet 79.   Whilst I alone did call upon thy aid
Sonnet 80.   O, how I faint when I of you do write


Sonnet 81.   Or I shall live your epitaph to make
Sonnet 82.   I grant thou wert not married to my Muse
Sonnet 83.   I never saw that you did painting need
Sonnet 84.   Who is it that says most? which can say more
Sonnet 85.   My tongue-tied Muse in manners holds her still
Sonnet 86.   Was it the proud full sail of his great verse
Sonnet 87.   Farewell! thou art too dear for my possessing
Sonnet 88.   When thou shalt be disposed to set me light
Sonnet 89.   Say that thou didst forsake me for some fault
Sonnet 90.   Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now


Sonnet 91.   Some glory in their birth, some in their skill
Sonnet 92.   But do thy worst to steal thyself away
Sonnet 93.   So shall I live, supposing thou art true
Sonnet 94.   They that have power to hurt and will do none
Sonnet 95.   How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame
Sonnet 96.   Some say thy fault is youth, some wantonness
Sonnet 97.   How like a winter hath my absence been
Sonnet 98.   From you have I been absent in the spring
Sonnet 99.   The forward violet thus did I chide
Sonnet 100.  Where art thou, Muse, that thou forget'st so long


Sonnet 101.  O truant Muse, what shall be thy amends
Sonnet 102.  My love is strengthen'd, though more weak in seeming
Sonnet 103.  Alack, what poverty my Muse brings forth
Sonnet 104.  To me, fair friend, you never can be old
Sonnet 105.  Let not my love be call'd idolatry
Sonnet 106.  When in the chronicle of wasted time
Sonnet 107.  Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
Sonnet 108.  What's in the brain that ink may character
Sonnet 109.  O, never say that I was false of heart
Sonnet 110.  Alas, 'tis true I have gone here and there


Sonnet 111.  O, for my sake do you with Fortune chide
Sonnet 112.  Your love and pity doth the impression fill
Sonnet 113.  Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind
Sonnet 114.  Or whether doth my mind, being crown'd with you
Sonnet 115.  Those lines that I before have writ do lie
Sonnet 116.  Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Sonnet 117.  Accuse me thus: that I have scanted all
Sonnet 118.  Like as, to make our appetites more keen
Sonnet 119.  What potions have I drunk of Siren tears
Sonnet 120.  That you were once unkind befriends me now


Sonnet 121.  'Tis better to be vile than vile esteem'd
Sonnet 122.  Thy gift, thy tables, are within my brain
Sonnet 123.  No, Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change
Sonnet 124.  If my dear love were but the child of state
Sonnet 125.  Were 't aught to me I bore the canopy
Sonnet 126.  O thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power


DARK LADY ARC (themes: sex, lust, betrayal, infidelity, politics)
Sonnet 127.  In the old age black was not counted fair
Sonnet 128.  How oft, when thou, my music, music play'st
Sonnet 129.  The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Sonnet 130.  My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun


Sonnet 131.  Thou art as tyrannous, so as thou art
Sonnet 132.  Thine eyes I love, and they, as pitying me
Sonnet 133.  Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to groan
Sonnet 134.  So, now I have confess'd that he is thine
Sonnet 135.  Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy 'Will,'
Sonnet 136.  If thy soul cheque thee that I come so near
Sonnet 137.  Thou blind fool, Love, what dost thou to mine eyes
Sonnet 138.  When my love swears that she is made of truth
Sonnet 139.  O, call not me to justify the wrong
Sonnet 140.  Be wise as thou art cruel; do not press


Sonnet 141.  In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes
Sonnet 142.  Love is my sin and thy dear virtue hate
Sonnet 143.  Lo! as a careful housewife runs to catch
Sonnet 144.  Two loves I have of comfort and despair
Sonnet 145.  Those lips that Love's own hand did make
Sonnet 146.  Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth
Sonnet 147.  My love is as a fever, longing still
Sonnet 148.  O me, what eyes hath Love put in my head
Sonnet 149.  Canst thou, O cruel! say I love thee not
Sonnet 150.  O, from what power hast thou this powerful might


Sonnet 151.  Love is too young to know what conscience is
Sonnet 152.  In loving thee thou know'st I am forsworn


ALLEGORICAL PAIR
Sonnet 153.  Cupid laid by his brand, and fell asleep
Sonnet 154.  The little Love-god lying once asleep







Technical Info


  • Plays: Shakespeare wrote largely, though not always, in iambic pentameter. Typically, prose (a.k.a. text without rhyme and discernible rhythm) denotes lower-class characters, comedy, and less-important text. Later plays incorporated blank verse. In most cases, even when a scene does not use rhyme and fixed rhythm, the scene will end in a heroic couplet. His plays are also noted for their use of introspective soliloquy, double entendres, and rhetoric.

  • Sonnets: Shakespearean sonnet form consists of fourteen lines organised into one cohesive stanza, subdivided into three quatrains and a couplet. Sonnets are in iambic pentameter, with rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. The couplet introduces a sharp twist in imagery or theme, called a volta.

    Shakespeare is also thought to have parodied the Petrarchan or Italian sonnet, which is also fourteen lines but is organised into either two quatrains or an octave (8 lines), followed by a sestet (6 lines). The rhyme scheme of the octave is ABBA ABBA, and the sestet may either be Petrarchan (CDC ECE), Italian (CDE CDE), or Sicilian (CDCDCD). A Petrarchan sonnet, rhetorically, is structured to pose a question, present a problem, or posit an idea in the first eight lines, and answer it in the sestet.



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