Synopsis: A Streetcar Named Desire centers on a desolated woman named Blanche DuBois. Reared in Old South aristocratic traditions, she lived elegantly in the family homestead, married a man she adored, and pursued a career as an English teacher. But her life fell apart when she discovered that her husband, Allen Grey, was having a homosexual affair. Disgraced, he killed himself. Blanche sought comfort in the arms of other men, many men. After she had relations with one of her students, a 17-year-old—authorities learned of the encounter and fired her. Meanwhile, relatives died and she could not keep up the family home. Eventually, creditors seized it. The play begins when Blanche arrives in New Orleans to stay with her sister, Stella, and her crude, outspoken husband, Stanley Kowalski. Though scarred by her past, Blanche still tries to lead the life of an elegant lady and does her best, even lying when necessary, to keep up appearances.
18. Title:The View from the Bridge (1955) Author: Arthur Miller Genre: Play/Drama
Target Grade: 9-12 DVD: CD: Total: 4 Available: 4
Synopsis: Set on the gritty Brooklyn waterfront, A View from the Bridge follows the cataclysmic downfall of Eddie Carbone, who spends his days as a hardworking longshoreman and his nights at home with his wife, Beatrice, and niece, Catherine. But the routine of his life is interrupted when Beatrice's cousins, illegal immigrants from Italy, arrive in New York. As one of them embarks on a romance with Catherine, Eddie's envy and delusion plays out with devastating consequences.
19. Title:The Crucible (1976—4th Edition)Author: Arthur Miller Genre: Play/Drama
Target Grade: 8-12 DVD:The Crucible/Arthur Miller: From the Author’s Desk Video Program DVD—Prentice Hall Literature/Unit 6 Total: 31 Available: 31
Teacher Resource Book: Literature Connections/SourceBook Available: 10
Synopsis: Using the historical and controversial subject of the Salem Witch Trials, Arthur Miller's play The Crucible presents an allegory for events in contemporary America. Miller's play employs these historical events to criticize the moments in humankind's history when reason and fact became clouded by irrational fears and the desire to place blame for society's problems on others. The play deals with the corrupted town of Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. John proctor, a blunt, out-spoken farmer and the play's central character, gets caught up in a conspiracy not even his own strength can control when his ex-lover, Abigail, throws false accusations in his wife's direction. As Proctor tries to free his wife and prove all others also accused of Witchcraft innocent, he finds himself being accused as well. This play is a story of vengeance; one man stands in a tug-of-war battle between God and Satan, pride and damnation, and good and evil. It all leads up to a climactic ending in which one lost soul finds peace with himself and realizes the importance of one's integrity.
20. Title:Death of a Salesman (1949) (Perma Bound—1998) Author: Arthur Miller
Synopsis: Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman and Willy Loman didn't make all those sales on a smile and a shoeshine. This play is the genuine article—it's got the goods on the human condition, all packed into a day in the life of one self-deluded, self-promoting, self-defeating soul. It's a sturdy bridge between kitchen-sink realism and spectral abstraction, the facts of particular hard times and universal themes.
21. Title:Death of a Salesman (1949) (Penguin Classics—1976)Author: Arthur Miller Genre: Tragedy/Drama Target Grade: 9-12 DVD: CD: Total: 13 Available: 13
Synopsis: Willy Loman, the protagonist of Death of a Salesman, has spent his life following the American way, living out his belief in salesmanship as a way to reinvent himself. But somehow the riches and respect he covets have eluded him. At age 63, he searches for the moment his life took a wrong turn, the moment of betrayal that undermined his relationship with his wife and destroyed his relationship with Biff, the son in whom he invested his faith. Willy lives in a fragile world of elaborate excuses and daydreams, conflating past and present in a desperate attempt to make sense of himself and of a world that once promised so much.
Mythology 1. Title:Mythology:Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes (1999) Author: Edith Hamilton Genre: Mythology Target Grade: 6-12 DVD: CD: Total: 21 Available: 21
Synopsis: Hamilton's retellings are engaging, and her scholasticism is evident throughout—a small example is her use of the less popular Roman names for the primary gods (Jupiter, Juno, Mars, etc.) when they are found in myths of Roman origin. Hamilton also includes information at the beginning of most chapters about the source of the myth and its author, which is very helpful. She synthesizes the longer myths, such as the Trojan War (found in the Iliad) and the quest for the golden fleece in such a way as to highlight their major events and give the reader a flavor of their content. Overall, I have not encountered a better survey of classical mythology in one volume.
2. Title:The Adventures of Ulysses (1980)Author: Bernard Evslin Genre: Mythology
It is based on the classic "Odyssey", but retold in a format suitable for young adults. Every chapter contains a new, exciting adventure. Some of these include stories about Calypso, Circe, and Syclla & Charybdis. The story also provides ample opportunities for writing topics, prediction, question & answer, and art.
3. Title:Heroes, Gods and Monsters of Greek Myths (1984)Author: Bernard Evslin Genre: Mythology Target Grade: 6-12 DVD: CD: Total: 180 Available: 180
Synopsis: The earth breeds giants and ogres of indescribable horror—the heavens hold omnipotent gods and goddesses, abounding in courage, strength and wisdom. Zeus, the almighty king of the gods, who cannot resist feminine beauty—mortal or divine, and his jealous and vengeful wife, Hera. Perseus, fearless mortal warrior, who takes on an impossible challenge: slaying the monstrous Medusa, whose glance turns men to stone. The Minotaur, half-man and half-bull, the horrible fruit of a queen's unspeakable desire, who annually destroys the young victims sacrificed to his terrifying power.
A fantastic world of spells and curses, magic and mystery, forces that create and destroy at will.
4. Title:Waiting for Odysseus (2004) Author: Clemence McLaren Genre: Mythology
Synopsis: The spectacularly faithful Penelope, who was struck with love for Odysseus at first sight, and plotted to win him from her cousin, the beautiful Helen. And then there is the sensuous witch Circe, who turns men into swine and lures Odysseus to stay, only to be caught in the trap of love herself. The virgin goddess Pallas Athene watches over her favorite with fond amusement, and his ancient nurse Eurycleia grumbles and hopes through the long years, raising Odysseus's son Telemachus and helping Penelope fend off a bevy of suitors. As any woman might expect, when the hero finally does return there is emotional baggage to be cleared away before the longed-for happy ending.
5. Title:The Odyssey: A Classic Retelling (Nextext) Author: Homer Genre: Greek Mythology
Synopsis: The Odyssey tells the story of Odysseus, who returns home after being away for twenty years. He had fought for the Greeks in the Trojan War and then had left Troy with twelve ships and more than 700 men. Only Odysseus returned home to Ithaca, after many adventures, to find other men in his house, eating his food and wooing his wife. This retelling: presents key historical and cultural information about the period includes a story map and a list of key characters and their roles; offers background information on the author.
1. Title: Othello Literary Genre: Tragedy; Play TotalAvailable
Synopsis: Shakespeare’s tragedy, Othello, is a wonderfully engrossing tragedy about a soldier, Iago, who reveals his hatred of Othello for choosing Cassio as his officer, and possibly sleeping with Iago’s wife Emilia. Iago explains his plan to avenge Othello by suggesting Cassio is sleeping with Othello’s wife, Desdemona.
Teacher Resource Book: CliffsNotes on Shakespeare's Othello Available: 1
Audio: Othello (2 CDs and 1 DVD)
2. Title: HamletLiterary Genre: Tragedy; Play TotalAvailable
The Tragedy of Hamlet: Prince of Denmark 10 10
Hamlet: Shakespeare Made Easy (Paperback) 17 17
A Classic Retelling: Hamlet (*Nextext) 177 177
Hamlet *and Related Readings86 86
Hamlet (*The New Folger Library—Paperback) 20 20
Hamlet (A Bantam Classic—Paperback) 21 21
Synopsis: It's about a prince called Hamlet whose father was poisoned! He thinks his uncle (Claudius) murdered his dad to gain the throne. His uncle then becomes king after marrying Hamlet’s mother (Gertrude).
Hamlet's father’s ghost appears and tells Hamlet that Claudius poisoned him. Hamlet goes mad and has strange temperament issues. Ophelia falls in love with the prince but his behavior drives her insane. Ophelia then drowns.
Teacher Resource Book:
Drama Study Guide—Hamlet Available: 1
Hamlet and Related Readings with Literature Connections/SourceBook Available: 3
Audio: Hamlet in Prison (Act V—1 CD)
Hamlet (3 CDs)
3. Title: Macbeth Literary Genre: Tragedy; Play TotalAvailable
A Classic Retelling: Macbeth (*Nextext) 275 275
Macbeth *and Related Readings99 99
Macbeth (Folger Library—Paperback) 83 83
Macbeth (*The New Folger Library—Paperback) 56 56
Macbeth (A Bantam Classic—Paperback) 21 21
The Tragedy of Macbeth with Connections (HRW Classic Library)9 9
Synopsis: Macbeth is a Scottish nobleman who becomes a murderer in Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth. One day Macbeth meets three witches who make a prophecy. The prophecies were that he is to become lord of Glamis, lord of Cawdor, and that he will be king.
He is often portrayed as a conflicted man who allows ego to win him over, leading to several unjust acts. Despite his initial description as a heroic and honorable general, the character becomes a testament to the dangers of human weakness in otherwise great men.
Teacher Resource Book: Macbeth and Related Readings with Literature Connections/SourceBook Available: 3
4. Title: King LearLiterary Genre: Tragedy; Play TotalAvailable
King Lear (*The New Folger Library—Paperback)60 60
Synopsis: The threefold dignity of a king, an old man, and a father, is dishonored by the cruel ingratitude of his unnatural daughters; the old king, who out of a foolish tenderness has given away everything, is driven out into the world a homeless beggar; the childish imbecility to which he was fast advancing changes into the wildest insanity, and when he is rescued from the destitution to which he was abandoned, it is too late. The kind consolations of filial care and attention and of true friendship are now lost on him; his bodily and mental powers are destroyed beyond hope of recovery, and all that now remains to him of life is the capability of loving and suffering beyond measure.
Teacher Resource Book:
CliffsNotes on Shakespeare’s King Lear Available: 1
5. Title: As You Like It Literary Genre: Comedy; Play TotalAvailable
As You Like It (A Bantam Classic—Paperback) 36 36
The play provides opportunities for its main characters to discuss a host of subjects (love, aging, the natural world, and death) from their particular points of view. At its center, As You Like It presents us with the respective worldviews of Jaques, a chronically melancholy pessimist preoccupied with the negative aspects of life, and Rosalind, the play's Christian heroine, who recognizes life's difficulties but holds fast to a positive attitude that is kind, playful, and, above all, wise. In the end, the enjoyment that we receive from the play's comedy is reinforced and validated by a humanistic Christian philosophy gently woven into the text by a benevolent Shakespeare.
Teacher Resource Book:Available: None
6. Title: The Taming of the Shrew Literary Genre: Comedy; Play TotalAvailable
The Taming of the Shrew (The Folger Library—Paperback) 20 20
The Taming of the Shrew (A Bantam Classic—Paperback) 38 38
The Timing of the Shrew (*The New Folger Library—Paperback) 44 44
Synopsis: It is a stage play in the form of a comedy that satirizes silly or unfair social customs and courting practices, often through farce. Farce is a type of comedy that relies on exaggeration, horseplay, and unrealistic or improbable situations to provoke laughter.
The Taming of the Shrew is one of William Shakespeare's most clever and sophisticated comedies.Petruchio and Kate engage in a battle of wits as he tries to "tame" his bold and stubborn wife and bring her into line with society's expectations. This romantic farce, full of disguises and role playing, deals with themes such as marriage and duty, reality and illusion, and compromise.
Teacher Resource Book:Available: None
7. Title: Much Ado About Nothing Literary Genre: Comedy; Play TotalAvailable
Much Ado About Nothing (*The New Folger Library—Paperback) 102 102
Synopsis: Relationships that end on a sour note, not only can leave the ex lovers with a bad taste but with those around them as well. What's cupid to when his love arrows have gone awry? Take aim and try again. In Much Ado About Nothing, young lovers come together, are broken apart and then reunited but this time around its the slightly older, slightly jaded ex-lovers that take center stage. Benedick, a consummate military commander has sworn off the pursuit of women, most likely because of his constant war of words with Beatrice. A woman who herself has given up on finding the right man and just happens to be Benedick's ex. The two live for and loath the witty repartee that ensues whenever they are near each other and have a strange intimacy that few couples ever achieve. However, while they may enjoy these little encounters, their relatives and friends are less than amused.
Teacher Resource Book:Available: None
Audio: Much Ado About Nothing (2 CDs)
8. Title: A Midsummer Night’s Dream Literary Genre: Comedy; Play TotalAvailable
A Midsummer Night’s Dream *and Related Readings 127 127
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (*The New Folger Library—Paperback) 9 9
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Cambridge School) 82 82
Synopsis: Relationships can be very difficult. Just ask anyone who has been married or in a committed relationship for a long time and they will tell you its no picnic. Now imagine for a second that you are with the same person for say...a few thousand years and instead of your marital spats just affecting you and your partner, they also affect the weather and other people the world over. A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare's ode to marriage, centers around two omnipotent beings from England's mythic past, Oberon and Titania, the King and Queen of the fairy kingdom. They traipse around the world with their respective courts bestowing blessings, making love with the odd mortal and generally are at odds with each other. The play catches up with them in ancient Athens before the wedding of two other mythical mortals, the Greek Hero Theseus and the Amazon queen Hippolyta. Throw in a lover's quadrangle, a group of clueless actors trying to put on a play, a mischievous fairy and some interesting plants and you have the makings of one wild night in the forest.
Teacher Resource Book: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Related Readings Literature Connections/SourceBook Available: 3
1. Midsummer Night’s Dream (2 DCs)
9. Title: Romeo and Juliet Literary Genre: Tragedy; Play TotalAvailable
Romeo and Juliet (Folger Library—Paperback) 18 18
Romeo and Juliet (A Bantam Classic—Paperback) 73 73
The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet *and Related Readings97 97
A Classic Story Telling: Romeo and Juliet (*Nextext) 341 341
Synopsis: Shakespeare's tragic drama of the "star-crossed" young lovers Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet is best remembered for the famous balcony scene. Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet are teenagers who fall deeply in love but their families are bitter enemies. They seize the moment and marry in secret, they make every effort to conceal their actions but these end in tragedy when Romeo, Juliet, Tybalt, Mercutio and Paris all die. The themes running through the play address the issues of the consequences of immature blind passion, hatred and prejudice.
Teacher Resource Book:
The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet and Related Readings Literature Connections/SourceBook Available: 12
Audio:William Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet (3 Compact Discs)
DVDs: William Shakespeare: Romeo and JulietMusic Edition
10. Title: The Tempest Literary Genre: Comedy; Play TotalAvailable
The Tempest (*The New Folger Library—Paperback) 16 16
The Tempest (A Bantam Classic—Paperback) 97 97
Synopsis: RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES. A common device used today by many writers where current events are taken and stories written that either are thinly veiled accounts of those events with names and places changed or sometimes the like story attempts to take into account an overriding theme inherent in the news story or something the author wishes to convey. Such attempts at capturing today's news stories are fraught with difficulty as what was hot on Saturday becomes old hat by Sunday. Many performers avoid trying to be too topical in hopes of avoiding their work becoming stale over time. Elizabethan writers were no different in wanting to latch on to a story that currently gripped the public interest.
During Shakespeare's lifetime, one of England's great successes was becoming a naval power and beginning of their age of exploration and colonization. In 1609, on the cusp of setting up the first permanent settlement in Jamestown, Virginia a ship called the Sea Venture, was part of flotilla of ships carrying settlers and supplies to the new colony. Just off the coast of North America, the fleet came upon what was believed to be a hurricane and was the Bonaventure became separated and thought lost with all hands. However, the ship instead was wrecked on an island in the Bermudas. Several months later the survivors rebuilt their ship and sailed on to Virginia. William Strachey and Sylvester Jourdain, two survivors of the wreck, returned to England a year later and wrote two separate accounts of their experience. The news of the miraculous return of the lost ship and crew swept the country and influenced Shakespeare to write his last solo play for the theater.
Teacher Resource Book:Available: None
Audio:The Tempest (2 CDs)
11. Title: Julius Caesar Literary Genre: Tragedy; Play TotalAvailable
A Classic Retelling: Julius Caesar (*Nextext) 29 29
Julius Caesar (*The New Folger Library—Paperback) 159 159
Julius Caesar (Folger Library—Paperback) 28 28
Synopsis: This play is a story primarily about a conspiracy to murder Caesar. The conspirators' plan has many flaws and they must struggle with the aftermath of what they have done. Brutus the "noblest roman" is the leader and the prime driver is Cassius who is dangerous, ambitious, and manipulative, and turns Brutus away from Caesar, for, who "Tis not that I don't like him, but for the general" kills Caesar in the name of Rome. Brutus must fight the ghost of Caesar for the rest of the play and Shakespeare makes it clear that although Brutus's action may have been justified and Caesar may have become a tyrant, he is still the tragic hero of the play. Shakespeare also entertains humane proportions for all characters, in this endeavor to not merely label characters bad guys-good guys but rather fully human and fragile to manipulation and flattery.
Teacher Resource Book: Julius Caesar and Related Readings Literature Connections/SourceBook Available: 2
DVD:Julius Caesar with Marlon Brandon
Audio:Julius Caesar (2 CDs)
*The New Folger Library
FAQs about the New Folger Library Shakespeare Editions
I am familiar with the Folger Library General Reader’s Shakespeare, published in the 1960s. Why has the Folger chosen to re-edit Shakespeare’s plays and poems now?
In recent years, ways of dealing with Shakespeare’s texts and with the interpretation of his plays have been undergoing significant change. The New Folger editions, while retaining many of the features that have always made the Folger Shakespeare so attractive to the general reader, at the same time reflects these current ways of thinking about Shakespeare.
How have the editors edited the text with the needs of a modern audience in mind?
Modern readers, actors, and teachers have become interested in the differences between, on the one hand, the early forms in which Shakespeare’s plays were first published and, on the other hand, the forms in which editors through the centuries have presented them. In response to this interest, we have based our editions on what we consider the best early printed version of a particular play (explaining our rationale in a section called “An Introduction to This Text”) and have marked our changes in the text—unobtrusively, we hope, but in such a way that the curious reader can be aware that a change has been made and can consult the “Textual Notes” to discover what appeared in the early printed versions.
*Nextext Classic Retellings Nextext Classic Retellings are high-interest adaptations of classic literary works. Each carefully crafted volume retains the spirit of the original while making its themes, plot, and characters accessible to a wider range of today’s students. Vocabulary support is provided throughout.
*(…and Related Readings) A textbook reader for young adults, plus short stories, poems, and essays designed to build reading comprehension.
The Shakespeare Enigma
Shakespeare Behind Bars
Shakespeare in Love
The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: The Comedies, Histories and Tragedies