A Summary of All Shakespeare's Plays


All's Well That Ends Well: Helena wants to marry Bertram. Bertram goes to war hoping to not marry Helena. Helena follows, and (pretending to be one of Bertram's other girlfriends) sleeps with Bertram. Bertram, matured, marries Helena.

As You Like It: Rosalind loves Orlando. Rosalind is exiled to a forest when her father/Duke is exiled. Orlando is also exiled to the forest. Rosalind (disguised as a male) meets with Orlando, who proclaims his love for Rosalind. There's a complicated love triangle of many characters. Disguised Rosalind drops her disguise and marries Orlando. Her father/Duke is reconciled with his usurper and they all go home happy.

The Comedy of Errors: Twin brothers and twin slaves get mistaken for each other

Love's Labor Lost: Three guys swear to forego women and comforts to be better students. But they fall in love anyway, and there are complications in the wooing. At the end, the women agree to marry these guys after the guys do some quests for a while.

Measure for Measure: A good Duke disguises himself to see how things are run in his absence. Successor enforces "puritain sex" laws even though he himself feels sexually desirous of an "almost nun." The Duke reveals himself, pardons the couple in violation of puritain sex laws, and a bunch of people marry, such as: Successor to the abandoned ex-girlfriend, and the Duke to the "almost nun."

The Merchant of Venice: Jew Shylock gives Friend B a loan, if Friend A will give a pound of flesh if the loan isn't repayed. Portia will only marry the suitor who guesses the right casket (Friend B chooses the lead casket, not the gold or silver ones). Friend B marries Portia. Shylock wants Friend A’s flesh pound. Porita disguised as a lawyer points out that Shylock can have flesh, not blood, so Friend A is saved.

The Merry Wives of Windsor: Falstaff romances multiple ladies, who find out and make sport of him.

A Midsummer Night's Dream: A love triangle between four people. Faeries make the wrong people fall in love with each other, until the end, where everyone falls in love with the right person and gets married.

Much Ado About Nothing: Two couples in love: one couple says they love each other, the other says they hate each other. The bad guy starts a rumour that one of the girls is a slut, which leads to problems, until they realize it's not true and everyone gets married.

The Taming of the Shrew: Two rich beautful girls. One is sweet, the other is a pain. Before the sweet one marries her love, the shrewish one must be wed. The sweet one's love gets his best friend (who likes money) to domesticate the shrew so everyone can get married.

Twelfth Night, Or What You Will:l Love triangle between Duke and Olivia and Viola (disguised as a male). Ends with: Olivia marries Viola’s lost twin brother, and Viola gets the Duke when she drops her disguise.
Subplot: Puritain Malvolio gets pranks played upon him by fun/drunk Olivia servants.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona: are guy friends Valentine and Proteus. Proteus used to love his girlfriend Julia, but now loves Valentine’s Silvia. Proteus gets Valentine banished, which depresses Silvia. Julia (disguised as a guy) sees Proteus wooing Silvia and gets depressed. Proteus tries to force Silvia, but exiled Valentine saves her. Proteus repents and marries his Julia. Valentine, redeemed, marries his Silvia.


Anthony and Cleopatra: (Roman) Anthony loves Cleopatra in Egypt. Ceasar asks Anthony to return to Rome to marry Ceasar’s sister and create peace in Rome. Anthony does this, but after marriage, decides he wants to return to Egypt and Cleopatra. Ceasar gets pissed, declares war on Egypt. Anthony and Cleopatra die instead of losing to Ceasar.

Coriolanus: (Roman) Corioloanus is a popular military leader, who beats his only worthy competition: Aufidius. This makes Coriolanus so politically dangerous that politicians get the public to want him dead. Corioloanus flees Rome, and uses exiled Aufidius’s resources to militarily campaign against Rome. Coriolanus decides not to destroy Rome b/c his family is there. Aufidius is restored to power, but is pissed at Coriolanus for not following through, so he kills Coriolanus.

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: After introspecting and investigating, Hamlet concludes his uncle killed his father to get the throne, and the Queen married/fell in love with the murderer (incest w/ brother in law). To settle things, there is a big duel where (almost) everyone dies.

Julius Ceasar: is assassinated by conspirators including: (honorable) Brutus and (manipulative) Cassius. Anthony (loyal to dead Ceasar) stirs up the crowds and the conspirators die.

King Lear: asks 3 daughters to prove how much they love him. The youngest doesn't want to cheapen her love by playing his game. She is banished, the other 2 divide up his kingdom. Upon taking power, the two daughters banish king. Naked and homeless, the king realizes the error of his ways, goes crazy, reunites with his loving daughter (who dies) and the king dies crazy but wise.
Subplot: Earl has bastard son and legitmate son. Bastard son tricks Earl into banishing legitimate son. Upon taking power, bastard blinds Earl. Blind Earl reunites with disguised son.

Macbeth: assasinates rightful King (because Magic Sisters said it was his destiny, and his wife convinces him to do it), ascends throne . MacDuff learns MacBeth is a murderer; there’s a war. MacBeth dies, and there is a new good king.

Othello, the Moor of Venice: Evil Iago is mad at (black) noble Othello for not promoting Iago. Iago tricks Othello into believing his wife is cheating on him. Othello kills wife, and when he realizes he was tricked, kills himself.

Romeo and Juliet: There's a blood feud between two families: the son of one family loves the daughter of the other family . They try to get married in secret, but there's a misunderstanding and they both die.

Timon of Athens: Generous Timon gives money to everybody. When he’s almost broke, his creditors try to collect their debts. Timon asks his “friends” for money, but he is rejected. Timon goes mad, flees to a cave in the woods, finds buried treasure, but eventually dies poor and insane.

Titus Andronicus: He's a popular general who might have been a Roman emperor, but he declines and chooses someone else in his stead. Titus betroths his daughter to the new emperor, but the emperor loves Titus's conquered/enslaved Queen. This Queen and her sons get revenge by raping/mutilating Titus's daughter. In retaliation, Titus kills her sons and feeds them to the Queen. More bickering/violence, and most everyone kills each other in the end. Lots of violence and maiming

Troilus and Cressida: Noble Troilus woos peasant Cressida during the Trojan War. Cressida plays hard to get, promises to be faithful, but when she’s captured she flirts with her captors. Meanwhile proud Achilles beats Trojan champ Hector.


Henry IV Part I Set I
Henry IV Part II Set I
Henry V Set I
Henry VI Part I Set II
Henry VI Part II Set II
Henry VI Part III Set II
Henry VIII- co-written

King John - succeeds his brother as King, but real son of the King and bastard son also want to be King. French King helps real son fight for throne. Big war between England and France. Everybody dies, and John’s son Henry becomes king.

Richard II Set I
Richard III

Set I:  Succession of Kings:

Richard 2 -> Henry 4 -> Henry 5

(Richard II) Richard 2 is a spoiled king who is deposed by Henry 4. Richard 2 becomes likable at the end. (Henry IV part I) Henry 4 fights former allies, the Percy's. Estranged son, Henry 5, grows up, supports dad and kills rebel Hotspur. (Henry IV part II) Henry 4 dies, Henry 5 banishes Falstaff. (Henry V) Henry 5 conquers France, marries French princess Katherine. Peace.

Set II:  Succession of Kings:

Kings:    Henry 5   ->  Henry 6   ->  Edward 3  -> Richard 3 ->  Henry 7
Houses: Lancaster -> Lancaster  -> York         -> York       ->  Tudor

(Henry VI, Parts 1,2,3) Henry 5 dies, Henry 6 takes over as infant. Henry 6 becomes weak ruler and is defeated by Ed 3. (Richard III) Ed 3 dies and is replaced by bad schemeing king Rich 3 who is killed by Henry 7

Last Romances:

Cymbeline: has a daughter whom he wants to marry his stepson. The daughter is in love with a childhood friend, so she hides as a male. There's some plotting (the daughter's chastity is tested and the stepson follows the daughter but ends up getting killed.) There's a big war where Cymbeline is captured/rescued, and at the end true love conquers all.

Pericles: He answers a riddle to win a princess. But she's having sex with her father/king, so he doesn't get to marry her, he just pisses off the king. He escapes and falls in love with/marries a different girl, and they have a daughter. His wife dies (and is brought back to life) and the daughter is kidnapped. Pericles is sad, but at the end the daughter and wife are reunited.

The Tempest: Shipwrecked people arrive on island, ruled by an exiled disguised magical Duke. The shipwrecked prince falls in love with the Duke's daughter, and the Duke makes her hard to get. Meanwhile, monster Caliban doesn't like Duke. Duke reveals himself, and everyone leaves island.

The Two Noble Kinsmen: are Arcite and Palamon who fight a losing war against Theseus. Jailed, they both fall in love with Theseus’s sister. They escape, fight etc until Theseus says his sister will go to the kinsman who wins a strength contest. Arcite wins, but dies from a horse accident. Palamon reconciles with Arcite, and he gets the girl. Co-written, bad play.

The Winter's Tale: King Leontes (wrongfully) thinks wife Queen Hermione is adultering with King Polixenes. Polixenes escapes home, but Queen Hermione is imprisoned. Queen gives birth to daughter but Leontes abandons child. Oracle tells Leontes he’s wrong and must find daughter. Queen Hermione “dies” of grief.
Sixteen years later, Leontes's (anonymous) daughter is courted by Polixene’s son (a prince). There is trouble because of class differences, until Leontes identifies his daughter as a princess, and the lovers can marry. Queen Hermione reappears, saying she only pretended to be dead.