Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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Hamlet

Hamlet

Author: William Shakespeare

Year: 1603

Famous for: Some of the most memorable lines in English literature—“To be, or not to be: that is the question”—and a series of truly unfortunate events that make this play a tragedy to end all tragedies.

Main character: Prince Hamlet

The scoop:

Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, is a play about murder and revenge and mystery. In fact, it’s been called one of the greatest tragedies of all time. And given what happens to Prince Hamlet in Hamlet’s five acts, it’s easy to see why.

Actually, the basic plot of Hamlet is pretty simple: Hamlet’s father is murdered, and Hamlet sets out to avenge his father’s death. Unfortunately, in the world of Shakespeare, nothing could be as simple as that. It takes Hamlet five acts to take action, and along the way he encounters a lying, scheming stepfather, a treacherous mother, a cold-hearted lover, several plots against his life, and a dozen people who swear that Hamlet is crazy.

Sounds like the recipe for a tragedy all right—not to mention some Shakespeare-style entertainment.