Shakespeare/Favorite [play].


Dear Dr T

It is difficult to answer but still do
you feel Romeo and Juliet is the best novel/story Written by the great Shakespeare among all his plays?.

Thanks & regards
Prashant s akerkar

Hello, Prashant!

First, I must help you with your terms, because of course Shakespeare did not write any novels or stories (those would have to be prose).  He wrote only plays and a few poems.  I am sure you know this fact, but you only need the correct English terms.

Now, to the question:  do I feel that Romeo and Juliet is the best play among Shakespeare's plays?

My answer:  Although it is loved all over the world and has been loved for centuries, and although I do love this play, I do not feel that it is among Shakespeare's best works. Are you surprised?

There are several reasons that I feel this way.  My main reason is because its odd structure makes it very difficult to produce on stage.  It is very much like a comedy up until the death of Mercutio, at which point the play experiences a rather awkward shift into tragedy. This is interesting, in one way of looking at it. But it makes the play very difficult to put on stage. In fact, I have seen it on stage, in live theatre, many times, and I have never yet seen a fully satisfying production.  I have even seen it acted by the Royal Shakespeare Company, who probably produced the best show I have seen, but still it was not excellent. I have thought about this problem for a long time, and here is my theory.  Because it is comedy in the first half and tragedy in the second half, an acting company would have to be excellent at performing BOTH comedy and tragedy to make the live production excellent. I have seen many acting companies that are best at comedy (and then the second half of the play is flat), and I have seen many that are great at tragedy (but then the first half is dull, until Mercutio dies), but I have never yet seen a live production that does both the first and second halves of the play equally well.  

The films that have been done are very good, in my opinion, but on stage, I have not yet seen a successful production.

Second, there is a problem with the tragedy, and many critics have said that this problem cannot be fixed or resolved.  It is this:  a truly great tragedy must be based on the personality of the hero (protagonist)--this is to say that, given the person the hero is, the outcome is inevitable in the circumstances, for he "participates in his own downfall." This means that even if there is a villain who is plotting to ruin the hero, the tragedy happens because the hero gave the villain opportunities to ruin him.  Now, in Romeo and Juliet , we do not see any such construction.  The tragedy occurs simply because the letter(which would have alerted Romeo to the fact that Juliet was only pretending to be dead) is delayed in its delivery, so Romeo arrives at the tomb without the correct knowledge that Juliet is not dead. If the letter had not been held back in the quarantine of the plague, then Romeo would have known the truth and there would not have been the tragic deaths of the two young lovers.

Do you understand what I am saying?

However, you do not have to stop feeling that Romeo and Juliet is your favorite play or even the best play!  You have the right to your own feelings!

My own candidates for best Shakespeare plays would be Hamlet , or King Lear , or The Tempest . In my opinion, these plays have greater depth of meaning and more complexity in construction and theme.  But this is only my opinion!  If you have not yet read these, give them a try. I think you will be amazed.

Thank you for asking!

Best wishes,
Dr. T.


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Dr. T.


I can answer questions about Shakespeare's life and times, his plays and poems, the history of criticism and critics' responses to Shakespeare's works, other authors of the time period, the audiences of the time period, Queen Elizabeth I, women of the Renaissance or Early Modern age, history of rhetoric, British drama, etc.


I have taught Shakespeare, Early Modern literature, Early Modern women's literature, the history of rhetoric, Arthurian literature, and related general literary subjects and many others in university classrooms for more than 25 years.

Renaissance Society of America, South-Central Renaissance Society, John Donne Society

3 books with University Presses, 1 book with HarperCollins Press; articles with: Continuum Press, DLB, Gale Research Shakespearean Criticism and Shakespearean Criticism Yearbook, College English journal, Studies in English Literature journal, CEA Critic journal, Renascence journal, Texas Papers on Language and Literature journal, several others.

Ph.D. in British Renaissance Literature and Rhetoric; M.A. in English; B.A. English and Theatre

Awards and Honors
I was editor of a scholarly journal for 10 years; Recipient of my university's Recognition Awards for Research, Teaching, and Service; two Sabbatical awards; graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude

Past/Present Clients
Panelist/Reviewer for National Endowment for the Humanities, Washington, DC, 2001, 1997, and 1993; Referee for College Literature, Yale University Press (numerous editions of Shakespeare’s plays), College English, Harper/Collins (1992 to 1995: full-length book manuscripts, including the complete manuscript of The HarperCollins World Reader, Volume I.); Dramaturg for local Little Theatre, 2001–03 (including productions of Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Dangerous Liaisons); Dramaturg for various productions in Theatre/Dance Dept at my University (including As You Like It, Midsummer Night's Dream, Measure for Measure, The Tempest)

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