Shakespeare can be intimidating; however, there are so many resources out there to help you understand his works. If you feel you are struggling with the written word alone, please remember that his plays were written to be performed--viewed and heard. I'm including here several topic and work overviews that will help you understand Shakespeare's texts. I encourage you to read them before you read the works, but you are welcome to dip into them any time or not at all. It's important to remember that it's NOT cheating to find out what's going on in a play. Once we are unencumbered by confusion, we can really enjoy the language and begin to engage the ideas.
Foreigners in Shakespeare's Works
Introduction to Hamlet
Introduction to Titus Andronicus
Introduction to Othello
Introduction to Antony and Cleopatra
Introduction to The Merchant of Venice
Introduction to The Tempest
If you're interested in reading more about genre, please feel free to explore widely. Here are a few links from the same resource as above:
History (and Succession, if you're interested)
And, finally, if you'd like some more basic information about the bard, here is a link to the eponymous entry:
Hamlet (Professional Audiobook)
Titus Andronicus (YouTube)
Othello (Professional Audiobook)
Antony and Cleopatra (YouTube)
Antony and Cleopatra (Professional Audiobook)
The Merchant of Venice (YouTube)
The Tempest (YouTube)
The Tempest (Professional Audiobook)
Please note that it's very rare for a film production to reproduce all of the play. You should use your study guide and the actual text to prepare for your quizzes, but these films and shows may help you get a better idea of what is going on in the play. I have not watched all of them, nor would I want to, so please all the trigger warnings and watch at your own risk.
I highly encourage you to do your own research on Shakespeare! We have a lot of resources to help with research, including Peer Research Tutors, the ability to chat with Research Librarians, and our own dedicated liaison, Jake Vaccaro. If you're just diving in on your own, this amazing resource collaboration between the Folger Library and JSTOR is a wonderful place to start.
I suggest working towards articles that have been published in this millennium, and we can talk more about why in class. I'm going to break that rule all over the place.
Antony and Cleopatra
The Merchant of Venice