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Shakespeare's Histories

You may want to write a literature research paper on the category of Shakespeare’s plays known as the histories, which were written primarily for the entertainment of the commissioning royalty.  They were loosely based on actual historical figures and events, and were often exaggerated for either heroic or satirical effect, as exemplified by “King Henry V”, ”King Henry VIII,” “King John,” and “King Richard II. Shakespeare's HistoriesThese plays had occasional comic scenarios – such as the Falstaff scenes in the “Henry” plays – and also possessed the tragic elements of  clearly defined villains, flawed heroes and deaths.  The histories, unlike the Shakespearean tragedies, however, all end on a triumphant note; one where order is restored.

The plays of Shakespeare can be clearly identified as falling within one of three categories: comedies, tragedies, or histories.  Comedies are marked by entertaining heroes and villains alike, a complete fiction, and a happy ending. The tragedies have flawed characters who act out of the darkest parts of humanity, evil, jealousy, greed, etc. and have, always, an unhappy ending.  Finally, the histories were based, in part, in reality, have clearly defined villains and heroes, were invariably about royalty, and had a triumphant ending. 

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