Happy Birthday, Shakespeare!
With the weather clearing up and Spring being well on its way, there’s no better time to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday, and no better way to celebrate than by reading his Springtime plays and poems. Below is a list of Springtime Shakespeare hits to read and enjoy! And remember: all of Shakespeare’s plays and poems are available to read for free on various platforms, including the Folger Shakespeare Library and Project Gutenberg.
Known for their words of love, Shakespeare’s sonnets can woo just about anyone. Several, too happen to deal with the subject of Spring, Summer, and the seasons. So read Shakespeare’s iconic Sonnet 18 for a dash of warmth, or see Sonnet 98 for the beginnings of Spring. Interested in hearing them read aloud? Sir Patrick Stewart is reading a sonnet a day, every day on Twitter.
The Two Noble Kinsmen
Based on Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale, Shakespeare’s co-written play begins when Athens defeats Thebes and takes prisoners. Arcite and Palamon, two Theban soldiers, are imprisoned when they spy Emilia, the sister-in-law of the Duke of Athens. From there, a bitter rivalry begins between the two men as they seek to earn her love. Thought to be one of Shakespeare’s final plays, The Two Noble Kinsmen is sure to entertain.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
One of Shakespeare’s earlier comedies, The Two Gentlemen of Verona follows Valentine and Proteus who are sent to court in order to become perfect gentlemen, though they find themselves falling in love when woman named Sylvia catches the eyes of both men. This sends the story spiraling into drama, putting Valentine’s heart and relationship at risk as well as his friendship with Proteus. Though the cast is small, The Two Gentlemen of Verona is certainly a worth a read.
Love’s Labor’s Lost
After vowing to have nothing to do with women for several years, four men find themselves regretting their vows when the Princess of France and her court come to visit. Quickly forgetting any promises they’ve made, each man attempts to woo the Princess and her companions. Funny, entertaining, and thought-provoking, Love’s Labor’s Lost might be a lesser known comedy, but it is just as great. Plus, it contains the longest word in any of Shakespeare’s plays!
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Arguably one of Shakespeare’s most well-known works, A Midsummer Night’s Dream weaves several stories together, all of which revolve around the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta. First, there are the actors, who are meant to perform at the wedding; next, there are the four Athenians, who find themselves in a love triangle of sorts; finally, there’s the fairies, who not only meddle in the lives of the actors and Athenians, but also have a king who seeks revenge on the queen. Widely performed and celebrated, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a perfect play for those wishing to read of magical lands.
As You Like It
When Orlando’s brother, Oliver, plans for him to die in a wrestling match, the last thing he expects is for Orlando to emerge victorious. And Orlando certainly doesn’t expect to fall in love with Rosalind right before he must flee his brother’s murderous schemes. Unbeknownst to Orlando, though, Rosalind has been banished, too, donning a male disguise while traveling through the forest with her companion, Celia. A lovable comedy, As You Like It is a delight to read.