|Isabella and Claudio depicted|
by William Holman Hunt
(1850). Shakespeare leaves
it an open question whether
Isabella accepts the marriage
proposal of the duke-come-
Even worse for the poet was Troilus and Cressida, which does not seem to have been performed at the time he wrote it. It was staged during the Restoration in another heavily adapted version by John Dryden, who altered both plot and characterisation, as well as trying to 'improve' Shakespeare's 'ungrammatical' language. The piece was then ignored for most of the 18th century and for all but the last two years of the 19th century. But it was revived with much success in the 20th century and in the form that Shakespeare wrote it, demonstrating perhaps that the man was right all along, ungrammatical language and all.
These 'problem plays' immediately followed Hamlet and the timeless romantic comedies Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It, and immediately preceded the great tragedies Othello, Macbeth and King Lear, which Punch once humorously described as a play about the difficulties of raising children in a damp climate.
(Left) 'King Lear and Fool in a Storm'
by Sir John Gilbert.