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A Short Analysis of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King

An introduction to a classic play

The plot of Sophocles’ great tragedy Oedipus the King (sometimes known as Oedipus Rex or Oedipus Tyrannos) has long been admired. In his Poetics, Aristotle held it up as the exemplary Greek tragedy. Samuel Taylor Coleridge called it one of the three perfect plots in all of literature (the other two being Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist and Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones). Oedipus the King might also be called the first detective story in Western literature. Yet how well do we know Sophocles’ play? And what does a closer analysis of its plot features and themes reveal? Read the rest of this entry

Five Fascinating Facts about The Merchant of Venice

Fun facts about Shakespeare’s play

1. Contrary to popular belief, the ‘merchant of Venice’ in the title of Shakespeare’s play isn’t Shylock. In the popular consciousness – i.e. among those who are aware that Shakespeare’s play contains a character named Shylock but who haven’t read or seen the play – Shylock is the merchant of Venice referred to in Shakespeare’s title. But of course the merchant is really Antonio, and Shylock the Jewish man who makes him a loan; as the scholar Stephen Greenblatt has observed, this popular misunderstanding says a great deal about how Shylock comes to dominate the play in which he appears, eclipsing all other characters. Read the rest of this entry

20 Interesting Facts about Drama and Theatre

Interesting trivia about the world of the theatre

We thought it was about time we offered some of our favourite curious facts about plays and drama, so what follows are twenty of the funniest or most fascinating nuggets from the theatre. So if you’ve taken your seat, we’ll dim the lights and raise the curtain on these interesting theatre facts.

In 1782, a lady named Mrs Fitzherbert died laughing at a performance of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera at the theatre.

When Shakespeare’s Globe burned down in 1613, the one casualty was a man whose breeches caught fire; they were put out with a bottle of ale.

If you say ‘Macbeth’ in a theatre, you are meant to walk three times in a circle anti-clockwise, then either spit or say a rude word. Read the rest of this entry