Beyond Literary Landscapes—Shakespeare’s Tragedies

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


This week’s column is part two of last week’s focus on William Shakespeare’s Comedies.  In contrast to his humorous works, the 17th century dramatist and poet’s Shakespearean Tragedy “revealed a tragic vision that comprehended the totality of possibilities for good and evil as nearly as the human imagination ever has.”

For students who would like to learn more about the Elizabethan drama of Shakespeare’s time, consider the works of Christopher Marlow and Ben Johnson.  (The Elizabethan age of theatre refers to “that style of performance plays which blossomed during the reign of Elizabeth I of England (r.  1558-1603 CE).”  It was during this time that a great deal of arts flourished).

In addition, those who would like to read more modern drama, can peruse the works of contemporary dramatists, such as Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, and Tomson Highway.


Some of William Shakespeare’s most famous tragic plays include The Tempest, Macbeth, and King Lear.

Other tragic works include Hamlet, Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, and The Winter’s Tale.


Most of these plays are set in the United Kingdom.


These tragedies are set in the early 17th century.


The works of Shakespeare may be of interest to AU ENGL students, as well as those who enjoy poetry and plays.  These tragedies may also serve as an introduction to students who would like to read one of the major authors of the Western literary canon.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to Shakespeare’s Tragedies are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in this topic may consider enrolling in ENGL 325: Shakespeare II, a senior-level, three-credit course, which “an introduction to the study of the plays and sonnets of William Shakespeare, focusing on his later works (tragedies, tragicomedies, and romances).”  (Please note that this course requires ENGL 211: Prose Forms and ENGL 212: Poetry and Plays, or ENGL 324: Shakespeare I as prerequisites).  Students can also consider ENGL 324: Shakespeare I for further reading.

In addition, those who would like to read modern drama can consider ENGL 212: Poetry and Plays, a junior-level, three-credit course, which “introduces forms of poetry, with a wide variety of examples from Shakespeare to Atwood, examining themes, structure, style, and imagery.”  (Although no prerequisites are required, ENGL 211: Prose Forms is recommended).  Happy reading!