Explore Shakespeare and key Renaissance writers by theme.

Comedies theme


From cross dressing in Twelfth Night to magical storms in The Tempest; from deception in Much Ado to biting satire in The Alchemist, discover the beauty and complexity of Shakespearean and Renaissance comedies.

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Tragedies theme


From Hamlet’s melancholy to Juliet’s eloquence; and from Othello’s misunderstanding to Doctor Faustus's damnation, discover the richness of Shakespearean and Renaissance tragedies.

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Histories theme


From the staging of disability to the influence of Machiavelli, explore the history plays of Shakespeare and other Renaissance writers.

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Context theme

Shakespeare’s life and world

From the open air Globe to the candlelit Blackfriars; from countryside to city; and from noblemen to strangers, discover the world that shaped Shakespeare’s work and that influenced his legacy.

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‘Unsex Me Here’: Lady Macbeth’s ‘Hell Broth’

Gender, sexuality, courtship and marriage

From courtship rituals to cross-dressing to love poetry, examine the ways in which Shakespeare and Renaissance writers explored identity, sexuality and gender roles.

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Elizabethan England theme

Elizabethan England

Exploration and trade, crime and punishment, clothing and social structure: explore key aspects of Elizabethan life, culture and society.

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Renaissance poetry theme


Discover close readings, critical interpretations and personal responses to Shakespeare’s sonnets, the poetry of John Donne and more.

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Renaissance writers theme

Renaissance writers

Uncover the fascinating, colourful lives of Renaissance writers including John Donne, Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe, and explore key features and themes in their groundbreaking plays and poetry.

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Misunderstanding in Othello

Ethnicity and identity

From Othello and Shylock to depictions of the ‘New World’ and anti-immigration riots, explore Shakespeare’s fascination with ethnic identity.

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Manhood and the ‘milk of human kindness’ in Macbeth

Power, politics and religion

A murdered king, a homeless ruler, a man who sells his soul to the Devil: discover how Shakespeare and other Renaissance writers represented power and powerlessness.

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Tempestuous Words: The Tempest and Shakespeare’s linguistic innovation

Global Shakespeare

Discover how Shakespeare’s work was influenced by other cultures, and how it’s been interpreted in nations across the world for 400 years.

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King Lear: madness, the fool and poor Tom

Interpretations of ‘madness’

From Lear’s breakdown to Ophelia’s malady, examine the ways in which Shakespeare depicts ideas of ‘madness’.

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Deception and dramatic irony in Much Ado About Nothing

Deception, drama and misunderstanding

Investigate the ways in which Shakespeare and Renaissance writers explore miscommunication, dishonesty, trickery and the nature of theatre.

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Verbing: Shakespeare’s linguistic innovation

Language, word play and text

Prose and verse, word play, neologisms and rhetoric: discover how Shakespeare and Renaissance writers developed innovative and experimental uses of language.

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dreams and doubling themes

Magic, illusion and the supernatural

Mischievous fairies, monstrous apparitions and scheming witches: examine the ways in which Shakespeare and Renaissance writers played with the magical and supernatural.

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