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After summaries of each play, there is a note on about referencing and using line numbers.
Play Summaries
The following are summaries for each of the plays.
For more details of the story click on the play's synopsis link below.

All's Well That Ends Well
A comedy. The story of Helena and how she eventually wins the love of her husband, Bertram.
This play is a retelling of a legend taken from Boccaccio's Decameron.
More info: synopsis
Antony and Cleopatra
The tragedy of the love affair of Marc Antony and Cleopatra. Antony's and Cleopatra's armies are defeated. Cleopatra asks Caesar that her heirs be allowed to inherit. Caesar agrees to consider this if she betrays her lover.
More info: synopsis
As You Like It
A comedy which contrasts the corruption of the court and the innocence of the country. The plot centres on Rosalind and her family.
More info: synopsis
Comedy of Errors
A comedy about twins with the same name, Antipholus. Separated in infancy by a shipwreck, they later search for one another, each with the aid of a slave named Dromio, also twins.
More info: synopsis
Coriolanus is persuaded to seek election to the Roman consulship. In order to do this he must get the votes of the common people, the plebeians. At first they agree to do this, but then change their minds. Coriolanus angrily speaks out the idea of popular rule. He is then driven from the city, and he decides to make peace with his enemy to get revenge on Rome.
More info: synopsis
Imogen against her father's Cymbeline's wishes marries Posthumus. Cymbeline exiles Posthumus. Posthumus meets Iachimo. who says all women are unchaste and wages a bet that he can seduce Imogen. Imogen rebufs him, but he secretely hides in her bedroom and steals a bracelet that Posthumus had given her. When Iachimo showe Posthumus the bracelet he beleives that Imogen has been unfaithful tells a servant to kill her. The servant beleives her to be innocent and persudes her to disquise herself as a boy and seek her husband.
More info: synopsis
The ghost of Prince Hamlet's father tells him he was murdered by his brother Claudius who is now the new king and married his wife. He tells him to avenge his murder. Hamlet struggles with himself to do this and to some this struggle comes over as madness. Polenuis be;eives Hamlet is mad as he wants to marry his daughter Orphelia. Claauis reacts to a play which resembles the murder of Hamlet, Prince Hamlet decides that this is proof and decides to kill Clauduis. Believing him to hiding behind a tapestry he stabs through the tapestry. But he has accidentally killed Polonius instead. Ophelia goes mad with grief and dies in a river.
More info: synopsis
Henry IV, part 1
A history depicting the early years of the reign of England's King Henry IV, in which the king's son, Prince Hal, saves Henry's life.
More info: synopsis
Henry IV, part 2
Prince Hal knows his father is dying and that he he will soon become king. He decides to mend his ways of drinking and mixing with his old friends. one of whom is Falstaff. After rebels are exceuted and Hal becomes King Henry V, Falstaff comes to London to see his friend. But the king tells him he must stay away from the court and him.
More info: synopsis
Henry V
The history of the life of Henry V after his coronation and his pursuit of the French throne. (The early days of Henry's life are told in the two parts of Henry IV.)
More info: synopsis
Henry VI, part 1
The first part of a historical trilogy, the early years of the reign of Henry VI, up to the time of his marriage to Margaret of Anjou.
More info: synopsis
Henry VI, part 2
The second part of a trilogy beginning after Henry's marriage to Margaret of Anjou, at the beginning of the War of the Roses in which Henry is dominated by the queen.
More info: synopsis
Henry VI, part 3
The third part of a historical trilogy, it describes the downfall of Henry VI and the rise of Edward IV.
More info: synopsis
Henry VIII
The history of of Henry VIII's love for Anne Bullen, and his efforts to divorce his wife Katharine.
More info: synopsis
Juluis Caesar
A tragedy that tells of Caesar's murder at the hands of a group of conspirators led by Brutus and Cassius. Marc Antony delivers a rousing oration at Caesar's funeral and drives the assassins out of Rome.
More info: synopsis
King John
A history depicting King John's efforts to fend off Arthur, the Duke of Brittany, who is pursuing John's throne.
More info: synopsis
King Lear
A tragedy in which King Lear decides to divide his kingdom among his daughters according to their declarations of love for him. King Lear is a noble study of the human spirit. Cordelia his favourite daughter refuses to profess her love for him, and the king then disowns her.
More info: synopsis
Love's Labour's Lost
A comedy of Ferdinand, King of Navarre, and his three friends who pledge to study for three years and avoid women. Their plan changes when a French Princess arrives with three ladies.
More info: synopsis
Macbeth is a great general but his ambition leads him to consider killing the king. Three witches have foretold he will become king and his wife finally persuades him to do the deed. It is Shakespeare’s shortest play.
More info: synopsis
Measure for Measure
A comedy in which Angelo is deputised to oversee the enforcement of Vienna's long-ignored laws by Duke Vincentio. Vincentio claims to leave the city, but remains, disguised as a Friar.
More info: synopsis
The Merchant of Venice
A comedy in which Bassanio wishes to travel to see his love, Portia. The trip is financed by Antonio, Merchant of Venice, who borrows money from Shylock in exchange for a pound of flesh. It has one of Shakespeare's most famous lines: If you prick us, do we not bleed? (3.1,59)
More info: synopsis
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A comedy in which Sir Falstaff attempts to seduce Mrs Page and Mrs Ford for their money. He sends Pistol and Nim to deliver letters to the women who instead tell the ladies of Falstff's plan. and the ladies plan to humilate Falstaff. Pistol and Nim later report Falstaff's plan to Mr Ford and Mr page. Page does not think his wife will fall for Falstaff, but Ford is very jealous and convinced his wife will dishonour him.
More info: synopsis
Midsummer Night's Dream
One wedding turns into three - a light-hearted comedy about love and fairies. Hermia refues to marry Demetrius, and her father warns so must do so or be sent to a convent or be executed. Hermia and Lysander are in love amd plan to elope. Hermia tells her friend Helena, of her intentions, but she informs on her to Demetrius. Helena was once enaged to Demetrius and hes to win back in his love. Demetruis follows Hermia and Lysander into the woods where they encounter fairies.
More info: synopsis
Much Ado About Nothing
A comedy which focuses on two plots: One is the love affair between the reluctant Beatrice and the confirmed bachelor Benedick, and the other is the courtship between Hero and Claudio.
More info: synopsis
Othello, a Moorish general who has chosen Cassio as his lieutenant. His ensign, Iago, feels slighted and plots his revenge against Cassio and Othello. He makes Othello think that his wife Desdemona has been unfaithful with Cassio. Iago obtains a hankerchief from Desdemona, which he uses to prove that Desdemona has been uanfaithful. Othello kills Desdemona in a fit of jealous rage.
More info: synopsis
Pericles believes his wife and daughter have died. They are later reunited.
(This play MAY have been written in collaboration with another writer, possibly George Wilkins.)
More info: synopsis
Richard II
Richard is wasteful of money, and uses it to spend on his friends and wars. When a well respected uncle dies and Richard siezes his estate both noblemen and the common people generally think he has gone too far. Henry Bolingbroke who is living in exile discovers that the king has taken his inheritance, and he raises an army to invade England. The common people welcome Belingbroke and assist him in his fight.
More info: synopsis
Richard III
Richard is deformed, hungry for power, and envious of his brother King Edward. Richard kills anyone in his way. He kills his older brother Clarence and implicates Edward in his murder to speed up Edward's illness. After Edward dies Richard becomes lord protector of England, responsible for looking after Edward's sons until they grow up. He arranges for these two also to be killed. He next has his wife Queen Anne murdered in order that he can marry princes Elizabeth, daughter of the former Queen Elizabeth. Richmond a descendant of the Royal Lancaster family raises an army in Framce to invade England. Richard is killed, and Richmond is crowned King Henry VII.
More info: synopsis
Romeo and Juliet
The story of the passionate love affair between Romeo and Juliet whose families, the Montagues and Capulets, are feuding.
More info: synopsis
Taming of the Shrew
A comedy in which the "shrew," Katherina must marry before her young, desirable sister, Bianca. Petruchio weds Katherina, "tames" her, and clears the way for Bianca's marriage to Lucentio.
More info: synopsis
The Tempest
One of Shakespeare's last plays (other than collaborations), it is a romantic fantasy about a magician who rules over an enchanted island with his daughter.
Considered by some to be is most beautiful work and a rare reflection of his views on life.
More info: synopsis
Timon of Athens
A tragedy in which Timon loses his wealth and finds that he has lost his friends as well. He leaves Athens to live in a cave where he finds a treasure and meets the banished general, Alcibiades.
More info: synopsis
Titus Adronicus
A violent tragedy in which Titus returns to Rome from a war with the Goths, having taken their Queen, Tamora and her three sons as prisoners. Titus kills one of Tamora's sons as a sacrfice to one of his own dead sons. Tamoara vows revegence. She has Titus's two sons framed for murder and they are beheaded. She then urges her sons Chiron and Demetrius to rape Titus's daughter Lavinia, after which they cut off her hands and tongue. Titus tricks Tamora into thinking he is mad, and captures Tamora and her sons and kills them. More killings ensue!
More info: synopsis
Troilus and Cressida
Troilus, a Trojan Prince, discovers that his beloved Cressida is being unfaithful.
More info: synopsis
Twelfth Night
A comedy in which Sebastian and his twin sister Viola are shipwrecked and each believes the other dead.
More info: synopsis
Two Gentlemen of Verona
The friendship between Valentine and Proteus later turns into rivalry over a woman.
More info: synopsis
A Winter's Tale
A comedy. Polixenes, King of Bohemia, visits Sicily at the invitation of his friend, King Leontes, who becomes unduly jealous when his wife urges Polixenes to extend his stay.
More info: synopsis
Line Numbers
In writing essays etc where citing Shakespeare's plays the convention is to cite the act, scene, and line number in brackets.
For example Hamlet’s: Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: (5.1.181-182)
The info in brackets refers to Act 5, scene 1, lines 181 to 182.
We show these numbers on the right hand side of a play’s text (you can if you wish select to remove the numbers by clicking the link to remove at the bottom).
Although different editions of the plays may vary slightly in line numbering, ours is probably the most consistent. Our line numbers do not include stage directions, and include only the spoken text (with two exceptions: where there is an Epilogue in the play in which case this line is also numbered, or where the character name plus stage direction is so long that the first line of text needs to start on the next line. This applies to the ghosts in Richard III. For example Ghost of Hastings [To KING RICHARD III] (5.3.158)
Famous Quotations
Quotations on love (with links)
Quotations on life (with links)
Quotations on law and lawyers (with links)
Quotations on flowers (with links)
Quotations on sleep (with links)
Quotations references to a candle (with links)
Most famous speeches
Suicide in Shakespeare
Shakespeare's plays in order of date written
Shakespeare Timeline
Kings and Queens

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