Shakespeare wrote 37 plays. He must have struggled with where to set them. There is genuine diversity in his choices. He even set one play in the new world. The Tempest is largely set in America. But what about his other choices? Did you realize that he set 4 of his plays in Rome including Julius Caesar? But Rome isn’t his most frequent choice. He set many of his plays in Italy. That is not so surprising when you consider that its cities were well-known to all at Shakespeare’s time. Below are 10 of his setting choices.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona is set in Italy. Milan is mentioned. He set another play in Verona, the far more famous Romeo and Juliet is partially set there too. Verona today is a city of 258,000 people in the Venice region, also a Shakespeare city choice He caused his Merchant to reside there. One of the best preserved Roman ampitheaters like The Coliseum is in this city.
The Greek World was also known in Shakespeare’s time and he set his Timon of Athens there. This lesser known work is set in Greece. It has a reputation as being a problem play.
Macbeth is set famously in Scotland, a place probably well known to the Bard. His shortest play, Macbeth introduces one of Shakespeare’s most vivid female characters and some witches.
Hamlet, one of his best plays, is set in a castle in Denmark named Elsinore.
His comedy Measure for Measure is partially set in Vienna. It is one of Shakespeare’s 17 comedies and contains a vivid character called Mistress Overdone, who is described as a Bawd. This character points to another great Shakespeare ability, the creation of appropriate names for his characters. It is classified as a comedy despite its serious nature because it has a happy ending,
Alls Well That Ends Well also has an unusual setting. It is set in Paris and Marseilles. Some of it is set in Italy, however, like Florence. The King of France is a real character in this play, but so is the Duke of Florence. At this time, Paris was probably a larger city than a town Shakespeare was far more familiar with, London. This is another of this writer’s comedies.
The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare’s first play and a comedy had an unusual setting, Ephesus. This was one of the most important cities of the ancient world. It was in modern day Turkey.
Antony and Cleopatra was definitely not a comedy, It was, in fact, a tragedy set in many places around the Roman Empire.
This brings us to Shakespeare’s play about the new world. The Tempest is largely about the still undiscovered part of the Western Hemisphere. It opens on an uninhabited island largely thought to be Bermuda and proceeds to the Colony of Virginia. It presents one of The Bard’s most interesting characters called Caliban. It’s classified as a comedy, but it’s a serious play.