Top 5: Favorite Shakespeare Plays

Hello everyone!

Since I am back and have had a lot of time to think things over, I'm trying to bring in new post types, to help keep things fresh and interesting. So, here is another new feature: Top 5. These are my personal Top 5 picks of whatever random thing we are talking about. These lists are by no means official lists or definitive lists of anything being discussed. These are just my opinions based on what I've read. Feel free to disagree, but always keep it civil please.

With all that introductory fluff out of the way, let's move on to:

My Top 5 Shakespeare Plays

As a person with a Bachelor's degree in English & American Literature, with a concentration on Shakespeare, I've read a decent handful of Shakespeare's plays. I haven't read all of them yet, but I'm working on it and someday, this list might change as I find new interesting things about the plays I've read, and as I read the others that he wrote. 

These are all the plays I have read up to now: 
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hamlet, Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2, Henry V, King Lear, Macbeth, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, Richard II, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, Titus Andronicus

For now, here is my Top 5 and why, starting with #5. 

#5 Henry IV, Part 1

This one will probably come as a huge surprise to anyone who has talked to me about Shakespeare. I have not read many of the histories, and when I first read Henry IV, I wasn't all that amused. However, I have since read it once or twice more, have had more discussion on it, and I did find certain parts to be gems of the highest degree. For example, I really enjoy the way that Falstaff exaggerates when telling a story and how different his stories are when he begins to when he finishes them. Also, Prince Hal is intriguing as a character. His joke on Falstaff is highly entertaining. His plan to lower everyone's expectation of him, and then turn that notion on its head and thereby come out on top of the situation, is pretty clever, despite being very shady. Initially, this one wasn't one I'd consider very high, but after a while, it really grew on me and I'm sure it'll surprise many people by the end of this list when they see which titles I excluded in favor of this one and others. 

#4 Romeo & Juliet

I'm sure this comes as no surprise to many people, and yet I'm certain it will surprise my sister, until she sees my reasoning. For one thing, similar to Henry IV, I was not initially very impressed with this play. It is one of the most beloved and most popular of Shakespeare's plays, and therein lies some of the problem. I first read Romeo and Juliet in middle school. At this point, I had been used to seeing alternate versions of the story that typically had happy endings because they were made for children, or hearing about other versions (ex: West Side Story) that ended much more unhappily. Regardless of the ending, there was one thing that was said about the is a tragic love story. After I read it, I wasn't quite sure where the love was. Despite being so young, I didn't see what was so romantic about a story where both main lovers die because of a misunderstanding. Honestly, I still don't see it in that way entirely. I see early aspects of love and would very much liked to have been able to see a little bit more before the tragic end. What I do like about it though, is how dramatic it is and I just find certain parts to be absolute gems. For example, the introductory squabble involving thumb-biting. That never fails to entertain me. Romeo's dramatic manner destroys my stomach because of the laughing fit I fall into. Some of the lines are just too good and too memorable, and I never cease to enjoy poking fun at this play's content. Its wonderful to enjoy, but for me, it isn't because of the story's event, but the WAY it is presented. It is a tragedy, and yet, a comedy. 

#3 Much Ado About Nothing

This was a play that middle school had never really heard anything about, so I got to go into it in college with zero knowledge. I wasn't sure what to expect and I just got to enjoy it for what it is. An actual romance. Now this is a love story if ever there was one. It's full of biting wit between characters, hidden identities, and friends playing matchmaker. This one is a good time, and I have never had a cross thing to say about it except for that Claudio is a bit of a gullible fool, but Benedick and Beatrice make up for it, as do the antics of Dogberry. I don't have a lot to say about this one, but that's cause I don't really feel I have to explain it much. It is a wholesome play with fun jokes, and naturally an evil plot by a villain, but one that doesn't involve people going to their death by the end, which is a win in my book. 

#2 Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night is one of the best comedic plays I have ever read. I don't know what it is about cross dressing in Elizabethan England, but it sure is funny. The beginning of the play makes it seem like it is going to be a bit tragic, but things turn around awful quick and nothing tickles my funny bone like mistaken identities and confusion. The back and forth and the madness that ensues because all the characters keep getting mixed up is such a delight. The best part is that everyone ends up basically happy, the butler-esque character gets what he deserves, and we even get a quick, funny sword fight with a fool. I would love to see this one performed live and not just as a movie. 

#1 Hamlet

Everyone who knows me, knows that this is hands down my favorite play and in my opinion, one of the most flawless plays to ever be written. There's adventure, ghosts, madness, humor, wit, and revenge. I'm not the kind of person who enjoys death as a literary theme in what I read, but Hamlet just does everything right. I laugh a lot, I sympathize with Hamlet, I recognize how ridiculous he is being at times, but at the same time, I completely get it. I weep for Ophelia, understand Laertes' point of view, and I do believe that Claudius is a dirtbag of the highest degree. Hamlet has some of the most memorable lines of ANY play, I quote it all the time, and its story spawned one of the greatest Disney animated features ever made and the greatest Broadway show on the planet (yes, I'm talking about Lion King---or rather, Hamlet with lions, as I like to call it). I can't count the number of times I've responded to a genuine question with the answer "words, words, words" and I love to go by the motto of "the readiness is all". Sure, its tragic and full of death, but Hamlet is an absolute masterpiece that showcases most of the emotions that are experienced in the human condition. While the rest of my list can potentially adjust, I honestly don't believe any play by Shakespeare could dethrone Hamlet's place at #1, and I don't think any other play in general could be better. 

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, those are my personal favorite Top 5 Shakespeare Plays, and why I find them to be the best. As I read the rest of the plays, maybe I'll shift some things around, but I'm feeling pretty good about what I have at this point. 

Comment Section Time!
What are your Top 5 favorite Shakespeare plays if you have any? Do you agree with my list? Would you change anything around or switch anything out? 
Also, would you like to see me post up my Top 5 Least Favorite Shakespeare plays? Leave it all down in the comments below! 

See you next post!