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Four Great Tragedies: Hamlet / Othello / King Lear / Macbeth
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Four Great Tragedies: Hamlet / Othello / King Lear / Macbeth

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  13,292 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
Listed as 'Acceptable', but likely in G or VG condition. Elligible for Super Saver shipping with Amazon Prime.
Mass Market Paperback, 592 pages
Published June 1st 1998 by Signet (first published 1982)
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Dec 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
If there is a lesson common to all of these tragedies, it is not to go jumping to conclusions. You may have an enemy muddying the waters (Othello). You may have mispercieved the situation because your ego is in the way (King Lear). You may think you are avoiding fate, when actually you are placing yourself right in the way of it by doing something ethically questionable (Macbeth). Or you may just be a little to self-righteous for your own good (Hamlet). Tragedy in these works is usually brought ...more
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Up front, I love Shakespeare. I love the sonnets, the comedies, some of the histories, and all of the tragedies. The first play I ever saw onstage was Richard Burton's rehearsal dress "Hamlet" back in the Sixties when I was in my teens. I was so astounded to discover such a thing, such language, that I literally could not get out of my seat for the standing ovation. A whole world had opened up to me. I knew I did not understand everything that had transpired on that stage--I was too naive, too l ...more
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
Okay, I love Shakespeare! I have read this book over and over, for classes and for leisure, and my absolute favorite play is King Lear. I love the disruption of gender conventions and the vanity of the characters. I love how Lear goes from being king down to being nothing. I think that it's Shakespeare's most brilliant and misogynist play. Regan and Goneril are so united and terribly ambitious and they pretty much throw it away over Edmund, going along with saying that "down from the waist they ...more
Chris brown
Dec 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd already read Hamlet and Othello, but getting Lear and Othello for only $1 still seemed like a worthwhile investment. In addition to the annotated text of each play, notes include how each play has actually been performed, Shakespeare's historical sources, and suggestions for further reading, almost 800 pages in all. That said, the print is small and the numerous footnotes tiny.
I just finished Macbeth which I read in conjunction with Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare and plan to read Lear in th
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Had a whole class on Shakespeare in college. As we all know, he is the master and the work you put in to reading will be richly rewarded.
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Four tragedies written by William Shakespeare are provided in this quite portable book. Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth all share the pages and are edited by four different people, one for each play. Because of this, the editing techniques, footnotes, and connotations tend to be different from play to play and it isn't recommended to sit down and try to read all four in one go. In particular, the editor for King Lear is very heavy handed in his edits and suggestions of meanings. Regardle ...more
Maureen Gallagher
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Google “Shakespeare” and you will be met with over 36,000,000 results. On my page 14 I found the Shakespeare Animal Fund, and beyond that was Manga Shakespeare, workplace advice taken from Othello, a cluster of bull-shitty Thought Catalog articles, and Canadian Shakespeare. The list goes much further.

What could I possibly add to a 400 year old discussion? Do I really need to add to that pile? Of course the answer is no, but we are so far beyond straws breaking camels’ backs, the camel now crushe
Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Clintington Clintington
Aug 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'll list them in the order in which I love them. 1. Othello 2. Macbeth 3. King Lear 4. Hamlet These should be staples for anyone that grows up in taking literature in the public school system.

The tragedy of Othello is my favorite because it has the greatest villain ever written for the page. Iago is everything you want your villain to be; envious; believes in his purpose; begs for our empathy; clever; scheming; psychopathic. I think he could take down James Bond.

Macbeth has the best woman writ
Jan 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is great in that it compiles Shakespeare's four main tragedies, but its font is very small, its pages are short, and putting together all of these texts makes it difficult to hold the book and flip the pages. The notes that go along with the plays are difficult to read because they are listed beneath each page of the play, and the formatting is just awkward. Definitely much harder to read than the Barnes & Noble Editions of Shakespeare's works.

I think that the plays in this book ar
Reviews of Hamlet and Macbeth can be found on other editions.


Definitely one of my favorites of Shakespeare's plays! The irony was through the roof and it was just so fantastic! Yes, it's tragic but it was also kinda hilarious. Overall I have to give it a 5/5 stars.

King Lear:

Meh? I mean it was okay. But I felt like I was just missing stuff, which is unusual in Shakespeare. This was one of his last plays though so I think it wasn't quite finished. And it's different versions had a lot of
Ned Huston
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
These plays are not science fiction, not even close, so I don't know why this book was included in the list of science fiction books, but I have read them, and I recommend them--for viewing. If only read, these plays will not come to life. These plays were meant to be performed. No performance conveys the full potential of the play (and some are bad), so multiple versions are necessary. Reading the play helps, but I can't recommend reading alone. When you've seen these plays interpreted several ...more
Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What can really be said about Shakespeare that does him justice or hasn't been said before?

'Not much' is the answer, but I always loved the following quote by Robert Graves:

"The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he is really very good - in spite of all the people who say he is very good."

And it's a thought that continues to shine in truth every time I read Shakespeare. He really is the grandaddy, the quarterback, the star, the most beautiful girl in school and so on and so forth.

In sh
Mar 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed these with great productions on DVD from Netflix and The Teaching Company course "Shakespeare's Tragedies" with lecturer Claire McKinney from University of Virginia.

Movie versions I watched and recommend:

Hamlet: Compare the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Hamlet starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart as Claudius (2009) with Kenneth Branagh's chandelier-swinging version (1996).

Othello: Oliver Parker starring Laurence Fishburne as Othello and Kenneth Branagh as Iag
Patricia Carpenter
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow! My daughter gave me Shakespeare's Complete Works for Christmas last year (behind in notes and dates - strange year). I decided to read the 4 tragedies first. My mother's father (a teacher in the Appalachians) used to tell me Shakespeare plays as childhood stories but he would recite some soliloquies. My favorite was MacBeth because of the Lady MacBeth role. Thank you Grandpa and thank you Mom.
Jul 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good texts of four of Shakespeare's key plays. The Macbeth text includes some of the scenes with Hecate that were likely written by other authors, and the Hamlet text is inclusive of scenes that appear only in Q2. Those of you who haven't read these plays - drop what you're doing and get an edition and read them. The Ardens are the best, but if you are in China and only have access to the Bantam, then the Bantam it must be.
Nov 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
First off you will be surprised to find out that 'Hamlet' alone was this lengthy.
Secondly, it takes unbelievably long because of old archaic words that needs translation almost word by word.
Yes, same English but how words have changed over time!
Last but not least, you thought you knew about the story, maybe so, but not Hamlet himself until you read it with great concentration.
Forget about different versions and missing parts.

'Cause you still have enough to carry on!
Aug 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
I originally bought this book years ago when we read Macbeth and Hamlet. I just finished King Lear and it was good (we read Othello earlier in high school). The thing I Telly like about this text is that it leaves the text itself pretty much alone. It does make notes, but they are all at the bottom of the page leaving the reader as interrupted as they choose. Its also really nice to have four of Shakespeare's greatest tragedies right there.
e luce fu
May 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
well.. my liking to these four tragedies varies from one to another. Yet I enjoyed the whole collection!! Feel like I would have never enjoy if I read some of them & left the others!!
It was a pleasure to meet four different glorious personae, regfardless their flaws. It just helped me heave a deep sigh of releif saying to myself: it's not only me who make disateroud things :-|
Aug 21, 2007 is currently reading it
Recommends it for: a.p. english students
i'm rereading hamlet for the first time since high school, and this time around, my favorite line comes from polonius: this is too long. that guy cracks me up.

i read the history plays earlier this summer, and the difference between their more-or-less constant plot movement and hamlet's indecision is pretty great. i think prince hal might have finished off claudius while he was praying.
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What is there to say? This anthology contains four of Shakespeare's best plays. They are completely engaging and awesome in every way. My only criticism is of a lack of critical texts that are usually accompanied with the signet classic Shakespeare books. Nevertheless, this is a great collection of plays that no doubt will entertain anyone who chooses to read it.
Madhura Gurav
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, drama
As the name suggests, all the plays have tragic endings. Although, one hopes that it were not so; at the same time, you realise that the tragic ending is what 'maketh' them realistic. Such is the power of Shakespeare's writing. His plays portray emotions and feelings of jealousy, envy, rage and revenge.
Feb 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I loved Othello because of Iago, and Macbeth was interesting because of Lady Macbeth. Lear, and Hamlet were okay, but they didn't really grab my attention. I'm seeing a pattern though, and it's pointing to deviously insane people. Especially because one of my favorite Harry Potter characters in Bellatrix.
Mitra Nazem
Sep 04, 2008 added it
Shelves: tragedy
From Othello the moor of Venice:
Iago: ”Zound, sir ,you are robbed. For shame ,put on your gown, your heart is burst, you have lost half your soul. Even now ,very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise, awake the snorting citizens with the bell or else the devil will make a grandsire of you. Arie, I say.
Jul 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Introductions for each play give a brief synopsis, inserting factoids like, Hamlet is the longest play, Macbeth is the shortest, as well as, the ways Shakespeare himself adapted many of the plays from earlier sources.

According to Prof. Huang, "Folgers is good for K-12, but this is for serious grad students." Emphasis on serious.
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I loved it. I have read Hamlet and watched the Branagh film of it too many times to count. I first read Hamlet in November of 2005. I read King Lear in the fall of 2008 and was in a play called Lear's Daughters where I played Regan. Othello I also read in the fall of 2008. I am embarrassed to admit I have never read Macbeth. There is nothing better than Shakespeare in my opinion.
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
In English class, we read Othello from this book. My rating is based solely on Othello because we didn't have enough time for the others. Anyway, I really enjoyed Othello. The majority of it was very easy to understand. I'm actually really glad we read this, but we were rushed too much.
Jul 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
this isn't the exact book i read, but it was the best one i could fine to represent othello, especially since ive already read the others, lol.

i thought othello was pretty good, i really enjoy shakespeares tragedies for the most part.
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William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been tr ...more
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