Three great plays of Shakespeare - Penguin Readers - Level 4.pdf

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Three Great Plays of
Level 4
Retold by Karen Holmes
Series Editors: Andy Hopkins and Jocelyn Potter
King Lear
'And so,' the prince said, 'this dark and cloudy morning has brought
a sad peace. There will never be a sadder story than the story of Romeo
and Juliet.'
Romeo and Juliet tells the story of two important families in
Verona, in Italy. The families hate each other. Romeo, the son of
Lord Montague, falls in love with Juliet, the daughter of Lord
Capulet. But when people hate each other, everybody around
them is affected. The story does not end happily because Romeo
and Juliet cannot escape from the war between their families and
live happily together. In this play, hate has more power over
people's lives than love.
All three stories in this book have sad endings. In each story,
the main characters die. They die because they, or others, are
weak, greedy or very foolish.
Lord and Lady Macbeth (Macbeth) are greedy, and as a result a
lot of people die. Macbeth is also weak. Lady Macbeth says,
'Macbeth is too kind, too gentle. There are things that he must
do but he is afraid to do them. I must speak to him, and make
him brave.' He becomes a murderer and a cruel king because his
wife tells him that he must perform evil acts. By the end of the
play, Macbeth does not care about anybody. When his wife dies,
he says,' It would be better if she died at another time.'
In the third story, King Lear, the king is an a very old man. His
great age makes him weak and foolish. He does not understand
the characters of his three daughters, and he believes Goneril and
Regan when they say that they love him. He thinks that his
youngest daughter, Cordelia, does not love him because she
refuses to use such fine words. But Goneril and Regan are greedy
for power and they do not care about their father.
Many of the characters in these stories have a lot of faults but,
like real people, they have good qualities and moments of
greatness too. Macbeth is a fine army commander. He wins an
important war and King Duncan admires him. Lear is a great
king. The King of France thinks that he is a good man, and the
Earl of Gloucester loves him. Even the Montagues and the
Capulets end their quarrel — but too late.
historical plays; nine of these are about English kings. The third
type were sad and serious plays, like the three stories in this book.
William Shakespeare is the most famous writer of plays in the
English language. He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564,
six years after Elizabeth I became Queen of England. He wrote
thirty-nine plays; thirty-four of these are still regularly seen on
the stage. Many are famous as films too. He also wrote hundreds
of poems.
We do not know very much about William Shakespeare's life.
We think that he went to school in Stratford. He married Anne
Hathaway in 1582, and they had three children: Suzanna (born in
1583), Hamnet and Judith (born together in 1585).
After that, we know nothing about his life until 1592. He
went to London, where he began to write successful plays. He
became an important member of a theatre company, which
performed at two London theatres: the Globe and the
Blackfriars. His plays were given special performances at the
courts of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. Shakespeare's
success made him a wealthy man, and in 1597 he bought New
Place, the largest house in Stratford. We believe that he left
London and went back to live at New Place in 1610. He
continued to write plays until he died in Stratford in 1616.
We know more about Shakespeare's plays than we know about
the writer. For 400 years, people have studied every word that
Shakespeare wrote. He wrote amusing plays with happy endings,
like A Midsummer Night's Dream and Twelfth Night. He also wrote
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