The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0109 Wednesday, 20 January 1999.
From: Hardy Cook <
Date: Wednesday, 20 Jan 1999 10:20:05 -0500
Subject: Order of plays?
Larry Weiss was absolutely correct in his assumption that
>Since the moderator of this List usually does not pass along posts from
>students seeking help, he must have found something special in your
>message, such as a well-written expression of a sincere desire to teach
I also received a private message a few weeks ago that I have just not
had time to answer, so in light of the responses to the previous sincere
question, let me offer this posting for consideration by the members of
From: Theresa Ramseyer <
Date: Friday, 01 Jan 1999 20:45:52 -0500
Subject: Order of plays?
Hello Mr. Cook - and Happy New Year to you too!
I really enjoy this list. Last Sunday's post by Marilyn Bonomi started
me thinking. I have always liked Shakespeare, but aside from Romeo &
Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, and the odd sonnet or two, had never really
covered him. Then I got a hold of Cornelius Hirschberg's great book The
Priceless Gift, which, among other things, convinced me to go through
all of the plays. He suggested this order, for a start: Romeo & Juliet,
Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, King Lear, Antony & Cleopatra, Midsummer
Night's Dream, Merchant of Venice, Julius Caesar, King John, Richard II,
Henry IV - 2 parts, Henry V, Henry VI - 3 parts, Richard III, and Henry
I try to read the play every night for a week at first, then go through
it with the dictionary and/or a very abridged version of Samuel
Johnson's English Dictionary. Then I read through it with the Companion
Cliff notes, and whatever books I can buy or find in the college
library. Takes time, but it's worth it!
I treated the first 3 plays this way, without problems. Now I'm into
unfamiliar territory. My biggest problem is that I miss the interaction
between teacher & student &/or classmates. For example, I have never
had a fiery, jealous love like Othello's. I have no one to say, for
example, "That sounds like my friend and her boyfriend. He was so
jealous when she looked at another guy, he...." I have no one to help
me translate some of the plays to my own life, or to point out the
points I'm missing.
I know I can ask questions on this list, but mine seem so simple, I hate
to post them [content, why did they do that, etc.]. Also, most of the
time everybody's discussing a play I'm not even on yet! [I'm really
kind of shy, and prefer my books, music, and computer to plenty of the
things that many other people enjoy.]
I really need three things: 1) If you were advising me, what plays would
you suggest I read, and in what order; 2) someone to take me under their
wing & work with me on whatever play I'm on [which is King Lear at the
moment], and 3) everybody's patience when I post simple questions! [No
question is stupid, if you really want to know].
I realize number 2 would be really difficult - I come from a line of
teachers & know how busy you all are - but I really appreciate your
help when you find a question from me in your mailbox!
Thanks - and Happy New Year!