Creating A High-Quality Shakespeare Essay


Reading time

13 minutes

Creating A High-Quality Shakespeare Essay

The writing process features many steps. To write an excellent paper follow all the steps presented here:

  • Decide on your topic and then begin to research your subject choice. Your essay needs a clearly defined topic. The first step to writing a successful paper is narrowing down your topic. Without a clear topic, your essay can become confusing and unfocused.
  • Write out a detailed outline for your essay. An outline will help you stay focused on your topic and provide you with focused instructions on how to write your paper.
  • Gather material on your topic. A high-quality paper needs strong evidentiary support from credible published sources. Cite sources who are authorities in your subject matter. Secondary sources help make your arguments more persuasive and powerful.
  • Compose topic sentences that support your thesis statement. Build a coherent argument using a structured paragraph with well-crafted sentences. Enrich your topic sentences with material from authoritative sources to produce a stronger essay.
  • Write the body of your essay first and then write your introduction and conclusion to your essay It is easier to sharpen your thesis statement when you know what you have already written in the bulk of your essay.
  • Proofread the draft. Fix any spelling or grammar mistakes to make your paper easier to read. If you need more proofreading help, check out these tips and tricks from our writers. Learn to fix mistakes before you submit your essay to your teacher.

Citing and Referencing Shakespeare Stories In Essay

Shakespeare has been known to be inventive and unorthodox when it comes to the English language. He has created a lot of phrases that we use every day in our lives, such as ''Knock, knock! Who's there?'' and ''break the ice''.

We use his phrases or metaphors without even knowing their origins. Additionally, we can use them in our writing to make them more interesting and colorful.

However, citing from Shakespeare's plays can be confusing because it is different from your typical in-text citations. So, in this article, we will cover 2 main topics to help you with citing from Shakespeare's plays.

The 2 main topics are:

  1. How to Cite Shakespeare Lines MLA Style
  2. How to Cite Shakespeare Lines in APA Referencing

Citing In MLA Style

Listing The Abbreviation Of The Title

In MLA style citations, instead of writing the whole title of the play you are citing. You want to write the abbreviation of the title based on the MLA handbook or standard.

Here are some examples:

  1. The Merchant of Venice (Play) = MV (Abbreviation)
  2. Macbeth (Play) = Mac (Abbreviation)

List Down The Act, Verse, And Line Number

So, in addition to the title, you want to list down the act, verse, and line number, which are separated by periods. Plus ensure to close your citation in parentheses.

Example: Play = Macbeth, Act = 2, Verse = 5, Line Number = 13 - 16. Macbeth citation: (Mac. 2.5. 13-16)

Repeating The Citation

When the cited play has already been cited or has been clearly stated in your essay. Then you do not need to write the title (abbreviation) again.So, using the example above the citation will now appear as such: (2.5. 13-16)

Should I Use Roman Numerals or Arabic Numerals In MLA For My Shakespeare Essay?

Generally speaking, according to the MLA guidelines, you would want to use the Arabic numeral. However, it all depends on your teacher as some teachers may still prefer the use of roman numerals. So citing in roman numeral would look something like this: (II.v. 13-16). If your teacher does not require this practice, then there is no need to bother.

Citing In APA style

Listing The Author's Surname And The Year

Unlike the MLA style of citation. In APA you want first to list the author's surname instead of the title of the play followed by a comma.

The year here refers to:

  1. Published Year
  2. Or Year Of Translation (If Translated)

Example: Year = 1992,Trans = 2001,if no translation = Shakespeare, 1992, Translated = Shakespeare, Trans. 2001

Listing The Act, Verse, And Line Number

Just like to citing in MLA style, in APA you also want to include the act, verse, and line number in your citation. Another thing that is the same is that you want to enclose your citation in parentheses.

Example: Act = 2, Verse = 3,Line Number = 25 - 28, No translation = (Shakespeare, 1992, 2.3. 25-28), Translated= (Shakespeare. trans. 2001, 2.3. 25-28)

Why Shakespeare should be taught in school?

  1. Shakespeare's plays reflect life. The playwright's works examine questions of morality. His works explore themes of good vs. evil and right vs. wrong. Shakespeare uses his characters to explore different philosophies and to show the fragility of the human condition. Shakespeare uses language and imagery to interweave his philosophies throughout his plays. To fully understand the meaning of his words, a student must give Shakespeare's works their full attention. Students need to read, reread and analyze his words to obtain all the knowledge the playwright wishes to impart.
  2. Love and beauty are the central focus of many of William Shakespeare's plays. His works showcase both the wonders of love and the beauty of love's destruction. The dichotomous philosophies that are present in Shakespeare's works provide teachers a way to teach critical thinking to their students. Writing an essay on Shakespeare teaches high school and university students to think for themselves while comparing different types of love and beauty.
  3. Shakespeare wrote poems, essays, and novels, though he is best known for his plays. Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet are among his most famous plays. Literary analysts enjoy his varied literary offerings from his sonnets to his plays. One reason teachers often ask their students to write an essay on Shakespearean works is to teach them about different literary styles. Teachers wish to provide students with a better understanding of the different perspectives each literary style can offer. Shakespeare's wide assortment of writing gives teachers ample material to discuss the positive and negative points of each literary style.

Shakespeare's Plays, Listed By Genre For Your Best Essay

Shakespeare's works have come down to us in various editions, written in separate volumes and different years. The two actors of the King's Men, J. Heminge and H. Condell, published them in 1623, and they called the collection First folio. It presents 36 plays that formed the basis of the Shakespearean canon. Here is a list of the works with useful information and some of the essential dates.

Comedies and Tragedies

The comedies share a basic structure that Shakespeare exploits better than his predecessors. The story offers a happy ending. Sometimes, it includes elements that entertain the viewer. The plays were shows for commoners, who wanted entertainment, yet they had to tickle the wit of the nobles. Many social events become the fulcrum on which plots revolve: weddings, travel, wars. The tragedy offers the spectator a different spectacle: the tragic ending, the death of an important character, the absence of balance. Shakespeare became famous with these comedies and tragedies:

The Taming of the Shrew

1590 1593  It belongs to the first period, the so-called "experimental" period, of Shakespeare's theatrical production. It appeared in print for the first time in the 1623 in-folio, but the production date is uncertain: the most recent critics place it before 1592.

The Comedy of Errors

1590–1594 In the register of the financial statements of the court of Queen Elizabeth, on the date of March 15, 1595, there is the payment of Ј 50 in favor of William Kempe and Richard Burgage: these are the names of the team heads of the company of the "Chamberlain Men" where Shakespeare worked.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

1590–1595 This youthful work by Shakespeare heralds themes and situations developed in later masterpieces, also set in Italy.

A Midsummer Night's Dream

1593–1595 Probably composed on the occasion of the solemn wedding celebration between the members of the English aristocracy.

Love's Labor Lost

1593–1596  Most likely, he wrote it and represented it before 1598. There are traces of his representation before Queen Elizabeth in the birthplace of 1597.

The Merchant of Venice

1594–1597 This is perhaps one of Shakespeare's most controversial and discussed creations because of which many accused him of antisemitism during these years.

Much Ado About Nothing

1598–1599  He wrote it after the establishment of the Chamberlain's Men in 1594. The dating is in this case quite precise: between the second half of 1598 and the first months of 1599.

As you like it

1599–1600  He probably wrote it in 1599. The first representation happened on August 4, 1600.

The twelfth-night a.k.a. What you will

1599–1601 Actors performed it at London's Middle Temple Hall on February 2, 1602, but many speculate that the first time took place the year before, on the occasion of the Epiphany.

Merry Wives of Windsor

1599–1601  Rumors said that he produced in 1602, by order of Queen Elizabeth, who requested the drafting within 15 days. We could widen the range of the creation date until 1597-1602.


1600–1601 He made it between 1600 and 1602 after 25 years of writing. The work appears in the Stationers' Register, a register in which publishers had to register the works they intended to publish, under the heading of July 26, 1602.

Troilus and Cressida

1601 We are uncertain about the date, but we know that it could be 1601 or 1602 because he wrote it immediately after Hamlet.

All's well that ends well

1602–1603 Many scholars restrict this range, although there are no precise sources.


Shakespeare produced these plays with a confident hand and in possession of a highly perfected technique. Its complexity of thought, imaginative richness, and variety of styles come together in a synthesis that becomes more and more mature and profound. Although many of his comedies continued to reflect a happier vision of life, he added an exuberant patriotic enthusiasm with these historical dramas.

Sir Thomas More

1593 We do not know the year, which could vary quite a bit. Some date it in 1602-1603. In the author's intentions, there was the will to shake his present citizens. The work unleashed disorders such as decreeing its censorship. It never went on stage again. The first attribution to Shakespeare dates back to 1871, then confirmed in 1916.

Edward III

1596 The writer published it anonymously in 1596. Already after Bard's death, there was a rumor that Shakespeare may have written it. Sir Brian Vickers, an authoritative scholar of William Shakespeare of the University of London, claims to be able to demonstrate that four hands wrote Edward III. The scholar used software that compared the play to all the others of his time.

Henry VI, part 1

1588–1590 With this work, the longest and most complex part of the Shakespearean production begins. Scholars date the draft to the years 1588-1592. He probably wrote it between 1588 and 1590, and the theater company represented it for the first time in 1592 at the Rose theater in London's Southwark. This drama opens the cycle of four plays dedicated to the war of the two roses.

Henry VI, part 2

1588–1591 The author may have initially produced a shorter version, then revised and corrected in 1591. In the First Folio, we read the final version. In comparison to his other plays, the second part presents the most extensive cast of characters.

Henry VI, part 3

1588–1592  The draft probably appeared around 1591. In this third part, we find the most lasting soliloquy that the author has ever written. Also, we encounter a higher number of battle scenes than anywhere in his plays. It represents 4 battles on stage and adds a fifth, of which we grasp only the outcome.

King John

1590–1597 We don't know for sure the date because the employee who recorded the plays in the register probably believed it was a reprint of The Troublesome Reign of John, King of England. King John took inspiration from this previous work. Its structure creates the mold for all the following historical dramas. The author chooses a successful play and revises its contents to adapt them to the interest of the contemporary public. Publishers' negligence credited subsequent representations of The Troublesome Reign to William Shakespeare (1611 and 1622), incorrectly.

Richard III

1591–1594 Shakespeare should have written Richard III between 1592 and 1593. Perhaps the company staged it for the first time in 1594. After Hamlet, Richard III is Shakespeare's most extended play and features one of the most negative characters in Shakespearean theater.

Richard II

1595 We know about it from the Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1578) by the English chronicler R. Holinshed. The representation took place around 1595 - The text made its first appearance in 1597.

Henry IV, part 1

1597 Written approximately between 1596 and 1597. The actors staged it for the first time in 1597. "Henry IV" is a historical drama divided into two parts, each in five acts. This is one of William Shakespeare's most represented works. Much of its success comes from the opportunist character Sir John Falstaff.

Henry IV, part 2

1598 Written in 1598. Academics assume that it was created immediately after the end of the first part. If you want to believe that he never stopped after creating the first part, Shakespeare could have taken up to three years to complete the second part of the work.

Henry V

1598–1599 Most likely written and represented in 1599, with Henry V Shakespeare's cycle of historical dramas is nearly completed. If we believe the rumors about the creation of this play, this is the last time the author prepared a historical drama.

Henry VIII

1612–1613 It appeared in 1613. Shakespeare is said to have written it at the express request of the court of England when the playwright had already bid farewell to the scenes. Even William Shakespeare's contemporaries were aware of the importance, even ideological, of the great fresco that the playwright had gradually built with his plays.

Why Shakespeare is a Great Writer?

The Bard of Avon was a prolific author. He managed to obtain the protection of essential figures in the aristocratic society of the time, such as the Earl of Southampton and the Earl of Pembroke. In essence, this allowed him to be able to devote himself body and soul to writing and to do it time the means for his sustenance. Obtaining the protection of nobles was very difficult for the artists, but Bard's talent and sagacity were something undeniable. The greatest Shakespearean critics divide William Shakespeare's creative activity into 4 phases. This subdivision allows us to understand the evolution of his style. His literary production evolved with the events of his life in the same way he hid his humanity behind the words and characters he created. In other words, he was a wise judge of his time, and he loved his audience.

His works remain current over time. Shakespeare is a writer who lived his time but went beyond. His tragedies are truly eternal. They raise questions that concern man since the dawn of time and will always concern him. For example, Macbeth appears to narrate a story about a king and queen. In reality, it represents the story of two greedy people, willing to do anything to achieve success. As some film adaptations have shown, if the director keeps the narrative strand almost intact and contextualizes the theme to the present day, his plays work just fine.

He was an author, but also an actor. The Bard has acted throughout his working life even though he could have stopped as soon as he could afford it. Legend says that Shakespeare specialized in strategic but undemanding roles. Most commonly, scholars associate his roles in positions similar to the Hamlet Spectrum.

Why Is Shakespeare Is So Important? Ideas For Essay

The amount of Shakespearean ink is almost ridiculous. In the British Library catalog, if you write the keyword "Shakespeare" in the Author field, you obtain 13,858 results. By entering Shakespeare in the Subject field, you get 16,092 titles. Shakespeare inspires later authors to this day. He holds the record for the most quoted author in the world. The main lesson we can learn from Shakespeare is how he used the English lexicon by paying attention to the world around him, listening carefully to the expressions used by people. We can do it with existing words too, see if they fit together well and if we can use them in combination with other words to form compound words, such as phrasal verbs or compound adjectives. His art stimulates artistic ingenuity and creative act.

Originally published May 23, 2017, updated Feb 24, 2021

Confusing homework?

Get expert help in any course or subject

Get Help