Friday, May 17, 2013

The Shakespeare Plays, Famous and Obscure -- Part III

A version of this post was published on my now-defunct blog "Renaissance Man" on September 1, 2009.

Having created seven indexes of Shakespearean Prominence/Obscurity in the last two postings, we are now in a position to create a defensible index of relative play fameitude. We shall do this in a variant the time-honored scientific system pioneered by the Associated Press football polls. To wit, for each first-place ranking in an index, a play shall be awarded 10 points, for each second-place ranking 9 points, and so on to 10th place, which will be worth 1 point. Got it? Good.

The Obscurest!

So, keeping in mind that the Henry IVs and Henry VIs are probably totally underrated in this category -- what can you do? -- the most obscure plays in the Shakespeare canon are:

Tied for 10th: 2 Henry VI and Love's Labours Lost (20 points)

8th: Troilus and Cressida (21 points)

Tied for 6th: Cymbeline and The Two Gentlemen of Verona (26 points)

5th: Henry VIII (31 points)

4th: Titus Andronicus (33 points)

3rd: Timon of Athens (34 points)

2nd: Pericles (40 points)

And the runaway winner of Most Obscure Play in the Shakespeare Canon, coming in first place on each and every index:

1rst: The Two Noble Kinsmen (70 points)

The Famousest!

Tied for 12th, and just one point out of tenth, we've got The Taming of the Shrew and As You Like It (16 points)


Tied for 10th: The Tempest and Twelfth Night, or (although never, really) What You Will (17 points)

8th: The Merchant of Venice (20 points)

7th: Julius Caesar (21 points)

6th: King Lear (23 points)

5th: Othello (24 points)

After which, the top four plays really start to break away from the pack...

4th: A Midsummer Night's Dream (38 points)

3rd: Romeo and Juliet (46 points)

2nd: Macbeth (52 points)

And the decisive if unsurprising winner of Most Famous Play in the Shakespeare Canon, coming in first place on five indices, second on a sixth, and third on the seventh:

1st: Hamlet (67 points)

So there you have it! This should settle once and for all the question of which is the most important and prominent Shakespeare play. And least! No arguing now; it was all very scientific.

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