Shakespeare’s Tragedies

by T-Knox

The epitaph carved into the stone slab covering his grave includes a curse against moving his bones, which was carefully avoided during restoration of the church in 2008.

Undoubtedly one of the most renowned writers in history wrote tales that for his time were greatly admired, and even now a fondness for them still resonates today. Although he wrote some of the most beloved romances, he also wrote tragedies that could make anyone question humanity. The following are stories of life and death scribed at the hand of none other than William Shakespeare.

In Titus Andronicus, Titus learns his daughter was raped and dismembered by Chiron and Demetrius. On that note, Titus gets his revenge by killing them to bake them into a pie. The pie is then served to their mother Tamora. It may not have been revenge served cold, but it was certainly sweet revenge. Titus is not the only mad man, as Chiron and Demetrius are by no means innocent either. They threw Lavinia into a pit before raping her and proceeded to cut off her tongue and hands so she couldn’t tell anyone. Regardless she couldn’t tell anyone because she was then slain by her rapists. The scheming murders to not end there, as it turns out that Tamora the mother of the rapists is having an affair behind her husband Lucius’ back. Lucius has her lover buried up to his chest so he is immobilized and cannot move. He later dies of starvation and thirst.

The most revered love story, Romeo and Juliet has its own dead end. Romeo kills himself when he finds out that the love of his life is dead. Juliet was in fact never dead but in deep slumber and awoke to find Romeo lying lifeless beside her. Romeo drank poison so he could join Juliet in death. Juliet in turn kills herself by using Romeo’s dagger to stab herself.

Another of Shakespeare’s love stories is riddled with tragedy. The newlyweds Othello and Desdemona came a long way because they were a biracial couple. Othello comes up with the conclusion that Desdemona had been cheating on him. Full of disdain for his wife he smothers her at night while she was sleeping. Not long after he discovers Desdemona was always loyal to him. Swamped with guilt Othello takes his own life by stabbing himself.

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the king himself and Macduff duke it out on the battlefield. Macbeth claimed that he was invincible, thanks to a witch’s prophecy. Macbeth spoke too soon, as in the next scene he was evidently beheaded by Macduff. You could say rightfully so since Macbeth had Macduff’s wife and young children killed during his reign.

The tragedy does not stop there. Cornwall and Albany have King Lear and his daughter Cordelia jailed following a battle they lost. They have been sentenced to death, yet King Lear escapes. His daughter succumbed to fate and was hung in her jail cell.

Hamlet is taunted by the dead as the ghost of his father reveals to him how he really died. Hamlet’s father died at the hands of his uncle Claudius who poured poison into his ear as he slept.

In Richard the III, Richard arranges the murder of his brother, the Duke of Clarence. He hires henchmen to stab him to death. To ensure he is dead, they drown him in a barrel of the wine. On top of this, there are two hogs’ heads resting in the wine as well.

Lastly, in Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare writes that Cleopatra and her maid commit suicide. On top of that Antony attempts to kill himself as well but doesn’t go through with it.

There is no lack of death in Shakespeare, but these Shakespearian tragedies may make you reconsider majoring in English Literature.

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