Universality of Shakespeare

Six Tales from Shakespeare by E.F. Dodd is a collection of simplified versions of The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, Julius Caesar, King Lear and Macbeth.

King Lear is a tragedy about a King who disowns the daughter who truly loves him, and is betrayed by the daughters who profess to love him for their personal gain. It is also a story about kingship and villainy. The Machiavellian villain Edmund plots to overthrow the kingdom, but he is defeated by Edgar and the Earl of Kent.

The Tempest tells the story of Prospero, the Duke of Milan who is an educated and wise man. However, Prospero's brother Antonio is jealous of him. Antonio plots with Alonso, the King of Naples to banish Prospero from Milan so that Antonio could rule in his place. Prospero and his daughter Miranda are sent away to an island where fairies dwell. Prospero uses his knowledge of magic to rescue a fairy named Ariel who becomes his loyal servant. Prospero also encounters Caliban, son of Sycorax. The play lends itself to a post-colonial interpretation through the complex master-slave relationship between Prospero and Caliban.

The Merchant of Venice is a comedy that is set in Italy, and tells the story of Bassanio who wants to marry a wealthy woman named Portia. Bassanio obtains a loan from Shylock, the Jewish moneylender in order to woo Portia. Shakespeare's plays are relevant even in the 21st century because of the universality of his themes and plot structure.

Reviewed by Ryhanna Salie
  

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