Reading Shakespeare should give you as much pleasure as seeing Shakespeare performed. These guided tours of the plays are designed to give readers the same thrilling experience theatergoers enjoy. We prepare you for each passage by presenting the historical and cultural context and by explaining unfamiliar terms in advance. Then we politely step aside. Just like a tour guide.

And in the same way that performances of Shakespeare edit the script to deliver a sharpened experience, Bard’s Eye View edits out minor portions of the plays that represent Shakespeare’s most frustrating and least rewarding passages.

The first guided tour in the volume is of Twelfth Night. Thinking that her twin brother perished in the shipwreck, Viola to survive dresses as a man and attaches herself to the court of Count Orsino. And here she finds that the society she has entered is governed by two aristocrats who are each suffering, if not from madness, then at least from a kind of emotional paralysis. Orsino has been paralyzed by his unrequited love for the Lady Olivia, and Lady Olivia has herself been arrested by her enduring grief over the loss of both her father and her brother. Viola is the catalyst who shakes these two otherwise admirable figures back to life.

Viola must also contend with Lady Olivia’s uncle, the party animal Sir Toby Belch, and Olivia’s censorious steward Malvolio. Belch is happily mooching off his niece while squeezing the visiting Sir Andrew Aguecheek for spending money as he encourages Aguecheek in his hopeless courtship of Olivia. Malvolio is intent on halting any activity in Olivia’s house that could remotely be considered fun. Viola will set in motion events that will eventually chasten both of these men, and that will lead to happy marriages for both Olivia and Orsino.

The second guided tour is of The Tempest. Prospero, the dispossessed Duke of Milan, neglects the governance of his realm in favor of study and as a result is overthrown by his brother and set adrift with his daughter Miranda in a boat that reaches an almost deserted Mediterranean island. Miranda grows up on the island, which is also home to an ethereal sprite, Ariel, and something like Ariel’s opposite; Caliban, the beastly son of Sycorax the witch.

Summoning magical powers that he has acquired during his years of study, and the additional powers that Ariel commands, Prospero causes a ship carrying his brother and his brother’s courtiers to shipwreck on the island, while assuring that none are hurt by the experience. Prospero thereafter orchestrates the events that lead to the contrition of his brother for the sin of deposing him, even as he directs the courtship of his own daughter by Ferdinand, the young Prince of Naples.

The e-book version of this book is available at this link, and the paperback is available at this link.


The e-book is $3.00, and the paperback is $10.00.

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