[[caption-width-right:311:The figure that thou here seest put, / It was for gentle ''Shakespeare'' cut, / Wherein the graver had the strife / With nature to outdo the life. / O, could he but have drawn his wit / As well in brass as he hath hit / His face, the print would then surpass / All that was ever writ in brass! / But since he cannot, reader, look / Not on his picture, but his book. --Ben Jonson]]

->''"William Shakespeare takes credit for being the only playwright to have no less than five of his plays simultaneously appearing on Broadway."''
-->-- '''''The New York Times'''''

[[RedBaron The Bard of Avon]]. England's national poet. Often considered the greatest writer in the English language. But who was he, really?

William Shakespeare (baptized 26 April 1564, died 23 April 1616[[labelnote:†]] {both dates are from the old Julian Calendar, used in England throughout his life – translated to the modern calendar, it would be May 6th and May 3rd respectively}[[/labelnote]]), [[SmallReferencePools the only playwright most people can name]], has been a major influence on English language fiction for 400 years. While most only know his plays through PopculturalOsmosis or [[SchoolStudyMedia English class]], the tropes he invented or popularized (to say nothing of a significant portion of the English language) are still with us today.

Many of his plays and plots are [[OlderThanTheyThink traceable back to older sources]], but [[TropeCodifier he made them his own]]. Trace back most of TheOldestOnesInTheBook and [[JustForFun/TheZerothLawOfTropeExamples you will find Shakespeare]], and before him no one anyone much has heard of.

Many series have parodied Shakespeare's plays, or [[SchoolPlay staged them]], and there have been innumerable film adaptations. Indeed, one contestant on the first series of ''Series/BigBrother'' in Germany was lampooned for believing Shakespeare to be a film director like Creator/QuentinTarantino, based on the sheer number of films around with his name in the title. {{Whole Plot Reference}}s to Shakespeare's plays are [[TheBardOnBoard a trope of their own]].

Shakespeare's late tragedies, ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}'', and ''Theatre/KingLear'', are widely considered to be among the greatest plays ever written, while such other works as ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}'', ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet'', and ''Theatre/{{Othello}}'' have profoundly influenced Anglophone culture.

Incidentally, he left his wife Anne his "second-best bed" in his will, which has had historians scratching their heads for centuries. The most normal-sounding explanation was that the second-best bed was the one he and his wife slept in, the best bed was reserved for guests. Unfortunately, muddying up the water is the fact that Shakespeare was quite cold with his much-older wife, spending most of his life away from home. He only married her in the first place [[ShotgunWedding because he got her pregnant]]. Maybe. We don't know much about the man's personal history, and the gaps have been filled with a lot of patchwork speculation over the decades (See Authorship Question below). Shakespeare had three children: Susanna, Judith, and his only son, Hamnet. Hamnet Shakespeare died at the age of 11 in 1596, and the coincidence of the name of the child with that of the protagonist of the famous play has similarly been a source of speculation for the likes of Creator/JamesJoyce and Creator/NeilGaiman.

Due to Shakespeare's wide-ranging influence and extremely high renown, any time you want to establish a character as smart and classy, just have him [[ShoutOut/ToShakespeare quote a couple of apropos lines from a Shakespeare play]]. It works every time, hero or villain. This is quite ironic, considering that his plays were [[LowestCommonDenominator not exactly high-brow entertainment in their day]].

Every generation seems to see Shakespeare as one of theirs, and attribute to him whatever attitudes or beliefs are considered "proper", "cool", or "intelligent" at the time. The Georgians saw him as a natural man whose brilliance was completely innate, though not brought into line with proper rules of Aristotelian drama, while the Victorians and Edwardians saw him as a proper Whig gentleman with proper Whig opinions on women, foreigners, war, etc. Most notably, in the past thirty years he's been turned into a rebel who was "forced" to work for those nasty royals and aristocrats because he had no other choice. Even on this very wiki, Shakespeare is said to have "had" to write his plays in a certain way for James or Elizabeth or Essex, with the unspoken assumption that he would have done things very differently had those evil meddling Kings, Queens, and Dukes not been controlling and censoring him. Admittedly, the nobility did have the power to do just that to anyone less in rank than they were [[note]](''especially to a commoner''; even the Authorship Question doesn't help here, none of the nobles on the list outranked Queen Elizabeth/King James)[[/note]], such as [[UsefulNotes/ElizabethI Queen Elizabeth I]] chopping off the right hands of a writer, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stubbs John Stubbs]][[note]] ([[IAmNotLeftHanded he kept writing]], though never anything seditious again)[[/note]], his printer, and his publisher, William Page, for writings she found offensive to her. Shakespeare's plays were staged frequently for the upper crust, so they were a crowd he desired to impress, and judging by their content and timing, he was a highly accomplished political weathervane.

He's also become [[ShakespeareInFiction a popular fictional character in his own right]]. Perhaps you want to [[SoYouWantTo/BeTheNextWilliamShakespeare emulate this esteemed fellow]]?

For a list of the many, many adaptations of Shakespeare's works, see TheBardOnBoard.


[[folder:The Authorship Question]]

Since the early 18th century some have speculated that "William Shakespeare" was just a pen name for one or more other individuals. People who believe this hypothesis are generally called "anti-Stratfordians"; those who hold to the view of Shakespearian authorship that William Shakespeare, of Stratford-on-Avon, did, in fact, write the works attributed to him, [[CaptainObvious are dubbed "Stratfordians"]]. With entire books and websites dedicated to arguing one way or the other, this is clearly SeriousBusiness to some.

Most of the anti-Stratfordians come from the position that, since there are no records of William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon having received any education at all[[note]] (as an English citizen, Shakespeare would have been entitled to a free place at the King's New School in Stratford, though there are no records of this – then again, ''no'' school records from that era have survived)[[/note]] and as Shakespeare's only handwriting samples include six signatures[[note]] (Shakespeare dictated his will, as was common at the time; and spelled his name several different ways, though spelling was still in a state of flux at the time)[[/note]]; therefore the successful Stratford businessman[[note]] (at a time when literacy was not a requirement to be a successful businessman)[[/note]] could not have been well-versed with poetry, history, mythology, law, medicine, geography, sailing, and the upper echelons of politics to write so well about these subjects. Hence the alternative authors proposed by anti-Stratfordians are generally highly-connected members of the government, lifelong academics, or commoners with documented ties to noblemen, such as Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, Edward De Vere (the 17th Earl of Oxford), Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke, or William Stanley (the Earl of Derby). (Some Stratfordians suggest that the discrepancy between Shakespeare the artist and Shakespeare the business man could be explained by the possibility that Anne Hathaway, his ''wife'' back in Stratford, was the real business head of the family, and conducted Will's financial affairs in his name.)

Notably, the theory has attracted many high-profile supporters, including such luminaries like Creator/WaltWhitman, Creator/CharlesDickens, Creator/RalphWaldoEmerson, Creator/MarkTwain, UsefulNotes/SigmundFreud, Creator/DerekJacobi, Creator/OrsonWelles, Creator/JimJarmusch, Creator/CharlieChaplin, at least two recent members of the [[UsefulNotes/AmericanCourts US Supreme Court]] (John Paul Stevens and Antonin Scalia, to be exact, and possibly the only thing they ever agreed on), and others. The Authorship Question has a few [[http://shakespeareauthorship.org/ adherents]] from Shakespeare scholarship, such as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Stritmatter Roger Stritmatter]] and Oxfordian Shakespeare scholar [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felicia_Hardison_Londr%C3%A9 Felicia Londre]].

Shakespeare scholars who adhere to the Stratfordian perspective [[http://www.shakespeareauthorship.com/ completely reject]] the authorship question, and there are far more Stratfordian scholars than anti-Stratfordian scholars. It is also backed by several prominent artists such as Creator/JamesJoyce, Creator/JorgeLuisBorges, Creator/NeilGaiman and Creator/AlanMoore who reject the Anti-Stratfordian view. Writers such as Bill Bryson have noted that there appears to be a strain of snobbery in the anti-Stratfordians, motivated by their disbelief that a commoner from the countryside could show such genius as a playwright. Most of the alternate candidates proposed for authorship are earls and noblemen, as opposed to Shakespeare-the-nobody from Warwickshire. Of course, Christopher Marlowe, another Authorship candidate, was a commoner as well – but unlike Shakespeare, he is known to have attended university and even earned a graduate degree[[note]] (Master of Arts from Cambridge University in 1587)[[/note]], which satisfies intellectual snobbery if not classist snobbery. (The fact that Marlowe died in 1593, before most of Shakespeare's plays were written, presents [[AuthorExistenceFailure its own separate problem]].)

In either case, the "evidence" cited by anti-Stratfordians that Shakespeare's works needed specialized knowledge in [[RenaissanceMan "history, mythology, law, medicine, geography, sailing, and the upper echelons of politics"]] to write so well about these subjects is not borne out by textual studies of the play. The plays are filled with anachronism, historical inaccuracies, propaganda and rumour, as well as quite a few errors in scientific and geographic facts. Moreover, Ben Jonson, Shakespeare's contemporary and friend who wrote the Essay of Dedication for the First Folio, lamented that Shakespeare knew very little Latin and Greek, in other words not someone who was a CunningLinguist by any means, perfectly matching the biographical record. The list of books that Shakespeare mentions in his will align well with the source material for his plays and they were chapbooks written in vernacular. Moreover, Shakespeare borrowed all his plots (as was tradition at the time) and government censorship meant he could not depict contemporary life anyway. Shakespeare's plays are works of artistic genius which means that conventional notions of skill from later eras do not apply. It should also be noted that the authorship debate stems from the fact that there is very little known about Shakespeare's personality, his attitudes and the like. There are no letters or diaries attributed to Shakespeare. However, this attitude stems from the notion of an artist's "personality" which is anachronistic since it was only with UsefulNotes/{{Romanticism}} that the idea of the artist as celebrity came into being.

For most contemporary scholars, this problem has become a quest to find the WordOfGod version of Shakespeare's plays when it seems likely all we really have is the WordOfStPaul at best and the WordOfDante at worst. A lot of the {{Bookworm}} types in their GreatBigLibraryOfEverything have been less worried about who The Bard was, and more worried about what was actually written in his own words. While old Bill was alive its hard to tell what publications he might have officially sanctioned: many versions printed during his life-time were shabby bootlegs used as rip-offs by other theatre troupes (the so-called "Bad Quartos"). Contemporary versions of the Swan of Avon's plays rely heavily on the WordOfStPaul via what's called the First Folio, a collection of his plays put together in 1623 by some actor pals from The King's Men. Around the 1700s, editors decided that some of the bootleg printed copies were good or complete enough to be WordOfGod, and they started mixing them with the First Folio. Since then, scholars have been in an echo chamber debating what can be considered authentically Shakespearean. For example, the ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}'' we know and love is actually a patchwork of the 1623 Folio and a longer copy published in 1603. Today some editions of ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}'' and ''Theatre/KingLear'' have include multiple versions of each play in one book, leaving readers to decide their own WordOfDante version to use. Since the National Poet of England didn't have a Xerox to print off an official copy and fax to his agent, any edition of his plays that claim to be straight from the Upstart Crow's mouth are, as far as we can be absolutely certain, actually just ascended {{Fanon}} with an academic stamp of approval. To make things even more complicated, almost all publications today have spelling and grammar changes to help modernise the text in order to [[YeOldeButcheredeEnglishe avoid misunderstandings]]. With all these changes in mind it becomes increasingly difficult to decide what counts as Shakespeare and what doesn't. Yet, for all these inconsistencies, the genius of the Immortal Bard is hard to deny; "confusion now hathe made his masterpiece."

!!Widespread Shakespearean tropes include:
%% Zero Context Examples have been commented out. Please write up a full example before uncommenting.
[[folder:Tropes Used]]

* AerithAndBob: It was a common convention in Elizabethan/Jacobean theater to give comical characters, especially working-class ones, common English names regardless of where the play was set. Shakespeare often does this, but he also peppers his plays with non-comical characters whose names are incongruous with the plays' settings. ''Hamlet'' has Laertes and Ophelia (Greek), Fortinbras (phonetic French), and Marcellus, Polonius, and Claudius (Roman); ''Romeo and Juliet'' has Tybalt (a variant of the English Theobald); and ''The Merchant of Venice'' has Shylock (English). Some names have endured over the years, resulting in this compared with some of the ones that aren't used - Portia, Jessica, Helena, Edgar, Olivia, Sebastian, Antonio, Maria etc.
%%* AffablyEvil: Many of his most popular villains.
%%* AmbiguouslyGay: Some of his characters.
* AnachronismStew: Shakespeare rarely did the research, though sometimes he did do the research and modern critics assume he did not (such as [[http://www.gwu.edu/~ieresgwu/assets/docs/CanalsofMilan.pdf the canal system in Italy]], linking many "landlocked" Italian cities by boat to each other and to the Mediterranean Sea). But no one watches his plays for the historical content, even the ones that are supposedly about historical events. Most of his contemporary audience knew very little about Italy or any other country outside of England (your average 16th-century Londoner could barely tell you anything about [[OopNorth Lancashire]] or [[UsefulNotes/{{Scotland}} Lanarkshire]], never mind Lombardy), and wanted a good story without caring about the [[ArtisticLicenseGeography geography]].
* AntagonistInMourning: Marc Antony for Brutus in ''Theatre/JuliusCaesar'', Octavius in turn for Marc Antony in ''Theatre/AntonyAndCleopatra'', Fortinbras for Hamlet in ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}'', and Bolingbroke for Richard in ''Theatre/RichardII''.
* AntiquatedLinguistics: While much of his wording was modern at the time, Shakespeare does engage in a few instances of this. For example, in ''Romeo and Juliet'', Paris' "on Thursday early will I rouse '''''ye'''''" would already have been archaic. Of course today, almost all of what Shakespeare wrote falls under this.
* AnyoneCanDie: No one is safe in his tragedies. Notable is ''Theatre/KingLear'', which kills off half the cast in the final scene alone (albeit one of them is just said to have died between scenes) and one of the three survivors implies he'll kill himself too.
* YouFailGeographyForever: Considering that John Dee was considered an expert of geography because he had travelled Europe, and his audience didn't really care about accuracy on this topic anyway, this is hardly a surprise. Of course, sometimes an odd quirk of history made his geography accurate, such as [[http://www.gwu.edu/~ieresgwu/assets/docs/CanalsofMilan.pdf the canal system in Italy]], linking many "landlocked" Italian cities by boat to each other and to the Mediterranean Sea; or the Bohemian Empire once extending to the ocean (under King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_II,_Holy_Roman_Emperor Rudolf II]], from 1575–1608, ''the period of Shakespeare''), even though Bohemia itself has no coastline.
* YouFailHistoryForever: Mostly due to him not doing the research, but sometimes due to his wish to please whomever was on the throne. For example, even if Shakespeare had had access to a more accurate and sympathetic source on Richard III, he probably wouldn't have used it, since Richard was overthrown by Henry Tudor, aka Queen Elizabeth's grandfather and King James I/VI's great-great-grandfather. Then there's the fact regarding what happened [[MakeAnExampleOfThem to his fellow playwrights Kyd and Marlowe]]
* AsideComment: Entire soliloquies can be this.
* BastardAngst: Comes up often in his works. Edmund from ''Theatre/KingLear'', John from ''Theatre/MuchAdoAboutNothing'' and Philip from ''Theatre/KingJohn'' are often freely labeled "the Bastard" and it causes them much angst.
* BetaCouple: Including Benedick and Beatrice, eclipsing the OfficialCouple in ''Theatre/MuchAdoAboutNothing'', Claudio and Hero.
* BlackComedy: Okay, not all of his comedy translates particularly well these days. But the darkest stuff seems to have survived fairly intact for the most part. And could he be a snarky bugger, or what? Be it a straight-up Comedy or one of his Tragedies (or one of the ones you're not sure which it's meant to be), Shakespeare knew how to get you to laugh to relieve tension. Or just to creep you out more.
* CardCarryingVillain: Iago, Don John, Richard III, Aaron the Moor, [[BastardBastard Edmund]]...
* TheChainsOfCommanding: Many of the kings in the histories complain about this in some form.
* CharacterTitle: His histories and tragedies always have one. In the case of the tragedies, the titular character almost never makes it.
%%* ComeToGawk
* CreatorCameo: He most likely played Adam in ''As You Like It'' and The Ghost in ''Hamlet''
* CrosscastRole: Any woman in a Shakespeare play as it was originally conceived, since, at the time, all actors were male. This adds an extra layer to a play like ''Theatre/AsYouLikeIt'', where a lot of the humor already comes from crossdressing.
* CrystalDragonJesus: In non-Christian settings, the names may be pagan, but the doctrines and practices are Christian.
* DeadpanSnarker: Hamlet, Benedick and Beatrice, Feste, Mercutio...
* DoubleEntendre: Lots and lots and ''lots''. Your high school teachers did not mention half of them, [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotForKids probably on purpose]].
* DuelToTheDeath: He likes to use this as a plot device.
** ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet'' has one leading to the deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt, and the final scene has one in Juliet's crypt where Paris dies.
** ''Theatre/KingLear'' between Edmund and Edgar at the end.
* FairyTaleMotifs: Many of his plays, especially festive comedies and romances, are set in fairy tale settings like royal courts, pastoral idylls or magical forests. His characters include fairies and magical creatures, as well as people of royal breeding.
* FisherKing: Many of his later tragedies, such as ''Hamlet'', ''[=MacBeth=]'', and ''King Lear'', have conceits[[labelnote:*]]''an extended metaphor that recurs throughout the work''[[/labelnote]] referring to how much the weather sucks and/or the soil is going barren during a SuccessionCrisis. Notably, [=MacBeth=] is so bad at ruling that '''even the forest wants to kill him'''.
* GenreBusting: Shakespeare scholars have a specific term ("problem plays") just to describe the plays he wrote that don't fit comfortably alongside either his comedies or his tragedies.
* GenreShift: ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet'' starts out as a romantic comedy, but becomes a tragedy halfway through.
* GetTheeToANunnery: ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}'' is the TropeNamer. Many of his plays are absolutely bawdy, but language has changed so much that modern audiences don't catch this; which can seriously impact the comedies, in particular, which lose a lot of their humor. There are several versions of the script meant for reading that directly point out the particularly-obscure double meanings to aid modern readers, along with showing stage actions. Of course, most Shakespeare scholars are snickering at [[GetTheeToANunnery nothing]].
** Many modern readers are often shocked to hear that theatre was as low-brow a form of entertainment as it was in its day. When you consider that watching a Shakespeare play was basically the equivalent to watching The Hangover at its time it makes more sense.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: Shakespeare's plays are ''full'' of adult humor. Most of its contemporary significance has since been [[ForgottenTrope forgotten in everyday life]]. He had a lot of references to popular culture at the time, which is no longer popular culture. This is part of why modern audiences miss a lot of it--our radar's tuned for different events.
* GrokkingTheHorrorshow: Often credited with inventing a large number of words and using existing words in new ways. It is more accurate to say that his works are the earliest written use of these words. He might not have actually coined them.
%%* HilarityEnsues
%%* HomeSweetHome
%%* HumansAreBastards: A main theme of his history plays, also present in this tragedies.
* HurricaneOfPuns: Frequently of the dirty variety, designed for humour of the nudge-nudge-wink-wink kind, and possibly GettingCrapPastTheRadar.
* TheJester: A recurring character type in many plays, so much so that scholars has coined the term "[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespearean_fool Shakespearean fool]]".
* KillEmAll: Mostly in the tragedies, though the histories can be fairly bloody as well.
* LaterInstallmentWeirdness: Towards the end of his career, he began to [[GenreBusting push against the rigid genre tropes]] of his day, blending comedy and tragedy to such a degree that many modern scholars have started using new terms like "tragicomedy" or "romance" to describe so-called "problem plays" such as ''Theatre/TheWintersTale'', ''Theatre/{{Cymbeline}}'', and ''Theatre/TheTempest''. Several later plays also incorporate supernatural elements in a way that's almost closer to MagicalRealism than the straightforward fantasy of earlier works, and it was during this period that he wrote one of only three of his plays--''The Tempest''--without any known pre-existing source material. (The others are ''Theatre/LovesLaboursLost'' and ''Theatre/AMidsummerNightsDream''.) Finally, many of Shakespeare's late works are collaborative efforts--though this was also [[EarlyInstallmentWeirdness something he did a lot early in his career]], and was a common practice for playwrights at the time.
* LocalReference: Quite a few of his plays have references to England even when there's no apparent reason to do so.
%%* LoveHurts
%%* LoveTriangle
%%* {{Malaproper}}
* MandatoryMotherhood: In the most general sense: motherhood and fatherhood are a duty, to perpetuate the human race.
* MeaninglessVillainVictory: ''Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice'' was the former TropeNamer (formerly Pound of Flesh Twist).
* MistakenForCheating: ''Theatre/{{Othello}}'', ''Theatre/TheMerryWivesOfWindsor'', ''Theatre/{{Cymbeline}}'', ''Theatre/TheWintersTale'' and ''Theatre/MuchAdoAboutNothing''.
* {{Neologism}}: Coined lots of words, mainly compound words such as "eyeball" or Anglicized loanwords like "alligator" (from Spanish "el lagarte", "the lizard").
* OracularUrchin[=/=]WaifProphet: Child, jester, and/or crazy person? Count on them to speak God's own truth.
* PoorCommunicationKills: Perhaps the most famous example is ''Romeo and Juliet''.
* PropagandaMachine: Shakespeare was a popular playwright in the Tudor era and used government chapbooks as source material, which means his plays by and large toe the party line of the time. Most famously his ''Theatre/RichardIII'', the poster-boy for HistoricalVillainUpgrade.
** Available facts indicate that Shakespeare avoided politics unlike his fellow playwrights and University wits for fairly pragmatic and logical reasons. Among his contemporaries, Thomas Kyd was tortured by the government ([[FinGore they used a hammer to smash his writing hand]]), Ben Jonson was briefly imprisoned for a controversial play and Marlowe, according to rumors, was murdered by government secret service.
** [[invoked]] That said, many people believe there is a subversive element in some of his history plays. For instance, in the Henry plays (Part I and II), the character with the most lines is not the King and Prince, but the fat Knight Falstaff who became a major EnsembleDarkhorse in that period. Creator/OrsonWelles hung a {{Lampshade}} to this with his ''Film/ChimesAtMidnight''. Even in ''Theatre/HenryV'', an openly propagandistic play about Henry V, many commentators note the King's rather manipulative and shrewd behaviour.
* ProphecyTwist: ''{{Theatre/Macbeth}}'' is one of the most famous. Macbeth is told by the witches that NoManOfWomanBorn will harm him. Turns out his nemesis Macduff was born via c-section.
* RagsToRoyalty:
** ''Theatre/AsYouLikeIt'' - the Duke was forced into exile in the backstory, and at the end he and his daughter Rosalind are restored to wealth.
** ''Theatre/KingLear'' has a rather quick example. Cordelia gets disinherited by her father, leaving her with no title and no dowry. The King of France falls in love with her for her kindness and courage, and proposes to her right there.
** ''Theatre/TwelfthNight'' - Viola marries the Duke at the end.
** ''Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice'' - Bassanio has to borrow money from Antonio at the start, but marries the wealthy Portia by the end.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Talbot, Exeter, Duke Humphrey, Prince Escalus - Shakespeare was fond of this trope. He also enjoyed parodying it with Polonius, who is reasonable and has authority but is kind of a comic fool.
* RecursiveCrossdressing: Companies of actors in Shakespeare's day were entirely composed of men. So any women, such as Portia, Viola, Rosalind, Imogen or Julia, who dress up as boys for a disguise, would have been men dressed up as women dressed up as men.
%%* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: Very common in the tragedies. Most noteworthy in Romeo and Juliet after Mercutio's death and Titus Andronicus.
* RoyalBlood: Frequently, but perhaps most notably in ''Theatre/TheWintersTale'', where royal-in-disguise Polixenes identifies lowly shepherdess Perdita as a princess because:
-->"Nothing she does, or seems, \\
But smacks of something greater than herself, \\
Too noble for this place."
* SlapSlapKiss[=/=]ShutUpKiss: Beatrice and Benedick.
%%* SlidingScaleOfIdealismvsCynicism
* TheSmurfettePrinciple: But when women aren't allowed to perform on-stage, what're ya gonna do? Still he's not as bad about this as a lot of other writers - works usually featuring at least three prominent female parts. Still it's not uncommon for modern productions to GenderFlip a few characters to add more female presences (or else have [[{{Irony}} women play some of the men]].)
* StockCharacter: Frequently used well-known character types (some of which are less well-known today), roles that were probably played by the same type-cast actors time after time. Part of his genius was finding HiddenDepths in the most tired archetypes - sorrow in [[TheJester Feste the Jester]], wisdom in [[TheAlcoholic Falstaff the Fat Drunk]], clarity in [[TheOphelia Constance the Madwoman]].
* StoryArc: Some of his histories have many recurring characters. The most famous is Falstaff in the Henriad plays, he has the most lines of dialogue in any Shakespeare play after Hamlet.
* SuspiciouslyAproposMusic: Most of the songs sung by musician characters, though usually presented merely as pop songs that these characters just happen to be singing, end up commenting fairly pointedly on one important theme or another in the play.
** In ''Theatre/MuchAdoAboutNothing'', Balthazar has a song with the line "Men were deceivers ever." Coincidence? In a scene about pulling an elaborate practical joke? In a play full of deception and distrust of every kind? Not ruddy likely!
** In ''Theatre/TwelfthNight'', Feste sings a lot about the passing of time and the complexity of romantic love. No prizes for guessing whether those are notable motifs in the play as a whole…
* SweetOnPollyOliver: Common in cross-dressing scenarios.
** SweetPollyOliver: Shakespeare really liked this trope and used it in a number of his comedies. In his day, the practice of men dressing as women for female parts added an [[RecursiveCrossdressing additional meta-level]] to the comedy.
%%* TheyDo
* ATragedyOfImpulsiveness: A major theme in several of his plays, wherein any of the characters who has impulsiveness as their flaw tends to have their problems ending badly for them. None of the situation they're in would have happened to them in the first place if they had any sort of self-control.
* TwoLinesNoWaiting: A few of his plays have notable A-plots and B-plots.
** ''Theatre/KingLear'''s A-plot is Lear's daughters plotting against him, the B-plot is Edmund manipulating his father and brother.
** ''Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice'''s A-plot is Shylock lending money to Antonio and Bassanio. The B-plot is Jessica's elopement with Lorenzo.
** ''Theatre/AMidsummerNightsDream'''s A-plot is the bewitched lovers in the woods. The B-plot is the game between Oberon and Titania.
* UnaccustomedAsIAmToPublicSpeaking: A notable example is Othello, who opens an early speech with this phrase, only to deliver an eloquent and complexly-crafted history of his life. In fact, Othello's speech patterns are so distinct that critics refer to his dialogue as "The Othello Music".
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory: The histories.
* WeAllLiveInAmerica: He might have been writing a play set in Celtic Britain, or ancient Rome, or ancient Greece, or Italy, but the themes and ideas in the plays pretty consistently evoked Elizabethan/Jacobean England.
* WeddingsForEveryone: Most of the comedies end with a wedding[[note]]at the time, this was pretty much the definition of "comedy"--a happy ending, not something intended primarily to make you laugh[[/note]].
** ''Theatre/TitusAndronicus'' begins with two consecutive high-profile weddings, then quickly goes downhill.
** ''Theatre/LovesLaboursLost'' subverts this trope. There are theories that it would have been played straight in ''Love's Labour's Won'', the missing possible sequel.
* WildMassGuessing: According to Creator/BillBryson, any claim about Shakespeare's personal life beyond what's on official records is this given how staggeringly little is actually known about Shakespeare's home life: we don't know if, let alone where, he went to school, how he could have read any books at all, and, despite the best efforts of debt collectors in London, what times he was in London. Ben Jonson, a brilliant writer in his own right and a contemporary of William Shakespeare, [[http://www.fbrt.org.uk/pages/enigma/contemporary%20suspicions.html appears to have known]] both an ''author'' named William Shakespeare (whom Jonson liked) and an ''actor'' named William Shakespeare (whom Jonson hated). According to Jonson, William Shakespeare the actor never wrote anything.
* WorldOfPun: He absolutely loved puns. Wait, you mean they ''weren't'' actually talking about [[DoubleEntendre how small a bee's stinger was]]?
* WritersCannotDoMath. Which is odd, because one of the things we do know about William Shakespeare (from the scant records of him that do exist) is that he was very good with business and money: bringing the family business back from ruin; buying the most expensive house in Stratford; and purchasing enough land in Stratford to gain him a kingly 60 British pounds a year in landlord income. Now, he did all of this without a single letter written home from London, so his wife, Anne Hathaway, may have been the business genius.

!!The plays, their individual tropes, and well-known adaptations include:

* ''Theatre/AllsWellThatEndsWell''
* ''Theatre/AntonyAndCleopatra''
* ''Theatre/AsYouLikeIt''
* ''Theatre/TheComedyOfErrors''
* ''Theatre/{{Coriolanus}}''
* ''Theatre/{{Cymbeline}}''
* ''Double Falsehood'' (Believed to be a rewrite of ''The History of Cardenio'', later rewritten by Lewis Theobald)
* ''EdwardIII''
* ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}''
* ''Theatre/HenryIV''
** ''Theatre/HenryIVPart1''
** ''Theatre/HenryIVPart2''
* ''Theatre/HenryV''
* ''Theatre/HenryVI''
** ''Theatre/HenryVIPart1''
** ''Theatre/HenryVIPart2''
** ''Theatre/HenryVIPart3''
* ''Theatre/HenryVIII''
* ''The History of Cardenio'' (missing)
* ''Theatre/JuliusCaesar''
* ''Theatre/KingJohn''
* ''Theatre/KingLear''
* ''Theatre/LovesLaboursLost''
* ''Love's Labour's Won'' (missing)
* ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}''
* ''Theatre/MeasureForMeasure''
* ''Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice''
* ''Theatre/TheMerryWivesOfWindsor''
* ''Theatre/AMidsummerNightsDream''
* ''Theatre/MuchAdoAboutNothing''
* ''Theatre/{{Othello}}''
* ''Theatre/PericlesPrinceOfTyre''
* ''Theatre/RichardII''
* ''Theatre/RichardIII''
* ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet''
* ''Sir Thomas More''
* ''Theatre/TheTamingOfTheShrew''
* ''Theatre/TheTempest''
* ''Theatre/TimonOfAthens''
* ''Theatre/TitusAndronicus''
* ''Theatre/TroilusAndCressida''
* ''Theatre/TwelfthNight''
* ''Theatre/TwoGentlemenOfVerona''
* ''Theatre/TheTwoNobleKinsmen''
* ''Theatre/TheWintersTale''

!!Tropes found in Shakespeare's {{sonnet}}s and poems include:

[[folder:Sonnets and Poems]]

* AddedAlliterativeAppeal: The first two lines of Sonnet 116 are an example:
-->"Let '''m'''e not to the '''m'''arriage of true '''m'''inds"
-->"Ad'''m'''it impedi'''m'''ents..."
* TheBeautifulElite: The sonnets. Shakespeare's sonnets were meant to be read only by a close circle of friends at court. They are intimately addressed to a Fair Youth, a handsome young man of BlueBlood, and to a woman known as the Dark Lady, who is beautiful and of a high standing as well.
* ChasteHero: Adonis, in "Venus and Adonis".
* CrapsackWorld: In Sonnet 66, the world is presented as utterly corrupt and with no redeeming qualities. The poet feels DrivenToSuicide and offers one reason after another for it. However, they are all refuted by the strongest reason ''against'' suicide: his love would be left alone in this heinous world.
* DeadlyDecadentCourt: Sonnet 25.
* DrivenToSuicide: Lucrece in "The Rape of Lucrece".
* DueToTheDead
** In "The Phoenix and the Turtle"--where "turtle" means "turtledove".
** Sonnet 68.
* FamedInStory: Sonnet 25.
* GoodAngelBadAngel: Sonnet 144.
* GoodOldWays: Sonnet 68.
* HomoeroticSubtext: Some of the sonnets (read: Sonnets 1-126) are addressed to a Fair Youth. The way his friend is addressed sometimes... Some critics tried ''really'' hard not to see it, or to un-see it, but, boy, did they have to twist the sonnets. "Lord of my love", huh?
** The famous "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" (Sonnet 18) is actually also addressed to the Fair Youth. Critics must really be trying to blind themselves, huh.
* TheInsomniac: Sonnets 27 and 28 make a pair of nocturnes. The topic of a lover who suffers from insomnia and sees his beloved being in his heated dreams is a staple of sonnet form.
* IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy: Sonnets 40 and 41 reveal a situation where the poet was doubly betrayed. His friend sleeps with his lover, no less. In Sonnet 42, he tries to justify this morally-unjustifiable act by a clever sophistic. They both love each other only because they also both love him, the poet, and he wishes them all the best.
* LoveMakesYouEvil: Sonnet 129--though it's really ''lust'' makes you evil.
* MakeUpIsEvil: Sonnet 67.
* MandatoryMotherhood: The first seventeen sonnets, known as the "Procreation Cycle," center on the poet attempting to convince a fair young man to reproduce and thereby preserve his beauty.
* MassiveNumberedSiblings: Sonnet 6 lightly mentions that his having one child would be good--but ''ten'' would be better.
* MeaningfulFuneral: In "The Phoenix and the Turtle".
* NoTitle: The sonnets are generally referred to by number or first line.
* PurpleProse: Sonnet 130 ("My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun") satirizes the tendency of other poets to make overwrought, faux-profound similes.
* SomeoneToRememberHimBy: In Sonnet 9, the reason why he should not fear to leave a widow--she'll have a child of his. That's why we should propagate.
* TearsOfRemorse: Sonnet 34.
* TextileWorkIsFeminine: "The Rape of Lucrece".
* TheVamp: The "Dark Lady".