Author: William Shakespeare
Publisher: Dar al Bihar (2003)
Pages: 287 Binding: Paperback
Description from the publisher:
William Shakespeare started writing tragedies because he thought the tragic plots used by other English writers were lacking artistic purpose and form. He used the fall of a notable person as the main focus in his tragedies. Suspense and climax were an added attraction for the audience. His work was extraordinary in that it was not of the norm for the time. A reader with even little knowledge of his work would recognize one of the tragedies as a work of Shakespeare.
A hero today is seen as a person who is idolized. Nowadays, a hero does not have to have wealth or certain political beliefs, but instead can be regarded as a hero for his/her actions and inner strength. However, in the plays of Shakespeare, the tragic hero is always a noble man who enjoys some status and prosperity in society but possesses some moral weakness or flaw which leads to his downfall. External circumstances such as fate also play a part in the hero's fall. Evil agents often act upon the hero and the forces of good, causing the hero to make wrong decisions. Innocent people always feel the fall in tragedies, as well.
The four most famous Shakespeare tragedies are King Lear, Hamlet, Othello, and Macbeth.
Hamlet is about an emotionally scarred young man trying to avenge the murder of his father, the king. The ghost of Hamlet's father appears to Hamlet, telling him that he was murdered by his brother, Claudius, who has now become the king. Claudius has also married Gertrude, the old king's widow and Hamlet's mother.
Hamlet is appalled by his mother's actions and by what the ghost tells him about Claudius's cold-blooded murder of his own brother. To buy time to plot his revenge, Hamlet takes on an "antic disposition," acting like a madman and alienating himself from the young woman he loves, Ophelia. Finally, his opportunity to publicly reveal Claudius's guilt comes when a troupe of actors come to Elsinore. Hamlet gets them to stage a play which parallels the murder of his father. The play itself reveals that Hamlet knows the truth about his father's death; the king's horrified reaction reveals his guilt.
Othello , a Moor serving as a general in the military of Venice, is victimized as a result of his love for Desdemona, the daughter of a Venetian statesman. The villain of the play is Iago, a career military man who plots revenge against Othello, Desdemona, and Michael Cassio because Othello has promoted Cassio to lieutenant, a position to which Iago feels he is entitled.
Othello's elopement with Desdemona sets in motion a long line of devious scams orchestrated by Iago. The action of the play moves to Cyprus, where an anticipated military battle is over before it begins. Iago manages to get Cassio drunk at a celebration where he had strict orders to refrain from drinking and to be on guard. When a fight breaks out (again set up by Iago) and the alarm bell is rung, Othello angrily strips Cassio of his title of lieutenant.
Cassio is devastated and humiliated by Othello's action, and Desdemona intervenes on his behalf to convince Othello that Cassio's punishment does not fit his crime. At the same time, Iago begins to imply to Othello that Desdemona is having an affair with Cassio. Iago continues to manipulate Othello, raising his suspicions until he is in a jealous rage. At the same time, Iago is also manipulating both Desdemona and Cassio.
In the final act of the play, Othello awakens the sleeping Desdemona with a kiss and finally accuses her outright of infidelity. Although she denies any involvement with Cassio and swears her love for her husband, Othello refuses to believe her, suffocating her with a pillow. Emilia enters the bed chamber and insists to Othello that Desdemona was a faithful wife. Emilia soon realizes that the villain behind the false accusations is her own husband. When she defends Desdemona's honor and blames her husband to the officials who gather at the scene, Iago stabs her in the back and escapes. In anguish, Othello kills himself, asking that he be remembered as one who once did good service for Venice, and one who "loved not wisely, but too well." In an unusual twist for a Shakespearean tragedy, the true villain, Iago, does not die at the end, although he is to be taken away and tortured.
Macbeth is about a noble warrior who gets caught up in a struggle for power. Supernatural events and Macbeth's ruthless wife play a major role in his downfall.
The play begins by immediately linking Macbeth to the forces of evil and the supernatural in the form of three witches. Macbeth has demonstrated his bravery and loyalty by leading King Duncan's armies to victory over a the forces of a scheming traitor. Shortly afterwards, he and his friend Banquo are confronted by the witches, who tell him that he will be given the title of Thane of Cawdor and will become king. The witches' message to Banquo is not clear: he will be "lesser than Macbeth, but greater," and his sons will be kings. Macbeth takes the witches' statements as truth when he is given the title of Thane of Cawdor as a reward for his valor in battle.
Macbeth realizes that the only way he can become king is to kill Duncan, and he is torn between his ambition and his fear that one murder will lead to many others. Lady Macbeth,just as ambitious and more ruthless than her husband, finally goads him into committing the murder, devising a plan for Macbeth to kill the king as he sleeps and put the blame on Duncan's guards.
Macbeth goes through with the murder of Duncan, but the act marks the beginning of his descent into guilt, paranoia, psychological disturbance, and tyranny. He is taken over by a relentless ambition for power and continues to eliminate everyone that he regards as a threat. His worst acts are the hired assassination of his friend Banquo and the slaughter of the family of Macduff, a noble who has been openly opposed to him. Macbeth's first fear proves true: the murder of Duncan teaches "bloody instruction," and Macbeth finds himself getting deeper and deeper into his tyranny and its bloodbath. Macbeth publicly reveals his guilt when the ghost of Banquo appears to him (and to him only) at a celebration feast; Macbeth's bizarre behavior as he "confronts" the ghost makes it clear to everyone that he has been involved in the murders of Duncan and Banquo.
King Lear is a tragic story of an old man's descent into madness as his world crumbles around him. It is also a tale of Lear's pride and his blindness to the truth about his three daughters and others around him. A subplot of the play involves another family (that of the Earl of Gloucester) torn apart by a scheming child (Edmund plots against his half-brother, Edgar). Both fathers suffer a great deal for their inability to see the truth about their children.
Although the main characters of these tragedies possess different traits, they all can be described as tragic Shakespearean heroes: they are basically good and noble men whose tragic flaw leads to their destruction.
These special, condensed novels are intended for English speakers to learn Arabic, by reading side by side versions of these simplified famous novels.