Think you know Shakespeare?
This April marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. Shakespeare is universally loved and heralded as a master storyteller, telling some of the most poignant and moving tales that form the birth of modern story-telling.
But let’s not forget the darker side of Shakespeare. Recognising that his audience loved crime (who doesn’t!) the Bard wasn’t afraid of killing off his main characters. So what better time to take a look at his most celebrated plays from a different angle – by body count.
1. Titus Andronicus
You don’t get much more of a blood bath than Titus Andronicus and it’s number one for crime. Thought to be Shakespeare’s first tragedy, it features executions, assassinations, rape, cannibalism, murder, dismemberment and heaps of revenge. This is the winner with a body count of fourteen over five acts!
2. King Lear
Nice historical play? Think again, King Lear‘s body count is an impressive ten – and that doesn’t even count all the eye-gouging and back-stabbing. There’s barely a central character left alive at the end of this play set with the backdrop of a French invasion in Britain.
The body count in Hamlet is impressive at nine, as is the means of dispatch. Where to begin? Accidental stabbing, drowning, and lots of poisoning – including using a poisoned sword (the pointy end was obviously not to be trusted).
The ultimate thriller. A power struggle? A mad king? There’s almost enough to give Game of Thrones a run for its money. With eight dead by the end of Macbeth you can’t help but feel he should’ve had a timely divorce and saved himself the trouble. With paranoia, ghostly forms and prophecies, this is a recipe for disaster.
5. Romeo and Juliet
Surely a work of romantic devotion and inspiration for these star-crossed lovers? Well it is, if you ignore the six dead bodies piled up at the end! Both title roles are looking a little pale at the end, as are many of their family members.