What are the four great tragedies performed at the globe?

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It is generally accepted that Shakespeare wrote 10 plays that are classified as tragedies, but which of them are true tragedies is often at the center of ongoing academic debate. Some scholars argue that a couple of Shakespeare’s plays are actually tragi-comedies and therefore cannot be categorically declared tragedies, while...

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It is generally accepted that Shakespeare wrote 10 plays that are classified as tragedies, but which of them are true tragedies is often at the center of ongoing academic debate. Some scholars argue that a couple of Shakespeare’s plays are actually tragi-comedies and therefore cannot be categorically declared tragedies, while other scholars claim that because those same plays meet a complex set of criteria for defining tragic plays, they must be tragedies. The same argument swirls around his history plays. In addition, the plays were written across three periods of Shakespeare’s career, but what most scholars do agree on is that Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies were written during the second and third periods. These plays include Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra. There is rarely disagreement that Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra are tragedies. Although they are based on historical figures, the stories are both foreign and ancient, characteristics which somehow allow them to be categorized as tragedies. Macbeth and King Lear, although connected with British history, are rarely considered history plays and almost always categorized as tragedies. Both Hamlet and Othello are truncated titles; the titles given by Shakespeare names them tragedies: The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark and The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice. Given that, it would be hard to argue against that categorization.

According to the Shakespeare Globe Trust (2013), six tragedies enjoyed their first public performance at the original Globe Theater between 1599 and 1613: Julius Caesar was the first in 1599, followed by Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra. But there is disagreement here, as well. According to Linda Alchin (2005), Julius Caesar was indeed the first play performed at the Globe in 1599, but only three other undisputed tragic plays were performed there before 1613 (which is when the original Globe burned down): Hamlet in 1600-1601, King Lear in 1605, and Macbeth in 1606. Alchin (2005) claims that Romeo and Juliet was performed for the first time in 1594, but the Globe was not opened until 1599, so that play, although considered one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, was not performed at the theater built by his playing company for performing his plays. If the Shakespeare Globe Trust is to be believed, then there were six of Shakespeare’s tragedies performed at the Globe, but if Alchin is to be believed, then neither Othello  nor Antony and Cleopatra  was performed there, leaving Julius Caesar, Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth as the only four tragedies to have been performed at the Globe.

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