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  • Writer's pictureMackenzie Elisa

Reading & Rating Shakespeare's Canon in Order of the Historical Chronology of the Settings

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Greetings fair ones!

39 plays. That's how many plays are attributed to Shakespeare. It's quite overwhelming, and it's hard to know where to start. My solution? Reading through the canon in the order of the historic settings of the plays. It's important to keep in mind that the action in these plays are exaggerated for dramatic effect, and often times they are more historical fiction than truth. To view the complete list of plays in this order, click HERE to view my detailed spreadsheet.

Throughout this read-through, I'm going to be keeping track of my thoughts on the plays and rating them based on different criteria. At the end of this endeavor, I'm going to be doing an official bracket and ranking of all of the plays, but for now let's talk about the rating system. The criteria I'm going to be using is as follows:

1. Overall Impression: My first impression and overall initial response to the play.

2. Language: The use of verse and/or prose. Is there any note-worthy poetry? Does Shakespeare do anything really interesting with how he utilizes language?

3. Protagonist Arc: Does the protagonist have a justified and complex arc? Are they interesting? Are we made to be invested in their character in the appropriate way?

4. Female Characters: Are the female characters complex? Do they have character arcs or good dialogue?

5. Overall Enjoyment: Did I enjoy this play on a base level?

6. Hype Worthy: Is the play worth its hype, or does it deserve more? Is it overrated?

7. Emotional Impact: Did the play affect me in the way its intended to? Did I laugh, cry, or feel anything emotionally?


Update: I've since added a new category: "Fits Genre" which pretty much just assesses how well the play fits into its given genre: Tragedy, Comedy, History, or Romance.


Every category has a maximum of 10 points which will be used to calculate an average, and you can click HERE to see my updated ratings spreadsheet. Modifications to the rating system will be made as necessary, so bear with me.

In the posts for each of the plays, I'll elaborate on all of my scores and get into my real thoughts on on the action.These plays are just straight drama and there is so much tea to spill about them, so you will be getting my honest plot summaries and reactions.

First up is Troilus and Cressida!

[Exit, pursued by a bear]

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