Simply Shakespeare

Simply Shakespeare #45 – 5 Main Features Of Shakespeare’s Genres

This week on Simply Shakespeare I am going to be talking about Shakespearean Genres. There is a an argument for there being 4 Shakespeare genres, but I’m going to be talking about the main 3: Tragedies, Comedies and Histories. This is a post for people who get a bit muddled about what makes each individual genre tick.


  1. Death at the end. Yeah if you’re reading a tragedy it’s a guarantee that the majority of the characters you’ve grown to love (or hate – or both) will be dead by the curtain call.
  2. Foreshadowing. You will see the aforementioned death hinted at throughout the story. It’s actually a really fun thing to read a tragedy play again and spot all the foreshadowing.
  3. A Tragic Hero. Straight from Aristotle’s Poetics (amongst other basic features of the tragedy) comes the tragic hero. Often a man (lol, figures) who has a fatal flaw (Hamartia) that leads to his eventual downfall.
  4. Something Supernatural. True Gothic style. there’s usually a ghost or a witch or some kind of magic to help spur the tragedy on.
  5. Comic Relief. It’s not all bad. There will most likely be a “foolish” character or some scene with alcohol to make you laugh whilst the world is crumbling, woo!



  1. Laughter, duh. The clue is in the name, they’re usually funny!
  2. A wedding or (weddings) at the end. Another spoiler alert here, but nothing says Happy Ever After like a good old wedding, right?
  3. A Gender flip/change of identity. There’s usually someone who pretends to be someone else and then they inevitable fall i  love and hilarity ensues.
  4. Micky-taking. A lot of comedies actually mock their tragic/historic counterparts. The irony and sarcasm often makes for great watching/reading.
  5. A big misunderstanding. Comedies don’t take themselves too seriously, the whole crux of the story usually comes from a simple but big misunderstanding that is usually, frustratingly, very easy to solve.



  1. Based on/inspired by history and or historical figures. Well, what were you expecting? They are not accurate though, purposefully.
  2. Social commentary. The histories often include hints towards Shakespeare’s opinions of a lot of things happening in his world at the time, which often still effect us today.
  3. A King. There’s always a king, always.
  4. Regicide. Don’t be surprised if there’s a murder or a death of aforementioned King.
  5. A Bad rep. The histories are usually seen as dull or boring. BUT give them a chance. I do struggle with some but Henry V is one of my faaaves.


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Thank you lovelies and happy reading! ox



3 thoughts on “Simply Shakespeare #45 – 5 Main Features Of Shakespeare’s Genres

  1. That’s a brilliant overview! I love the comedies best because they remind me so much of modern romcoms or teenpics: there’s usually a lot of slapstick comedy, witty lovers, a funny sidekick and a happy ending with the bad guys being punished.


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