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By: Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)

The Jew of Malta by Christopher Marlowe The Jew of Malta

Christopher “Kit” Marlowe (baptised 26 February 1564 – 30 May 1593) was an English dramatist, poet, and translator of the Elizabethan era. The foremost Elizabethan tragedian before William Shakespeare, he is known for his magnificent blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his own untimely death. The Jew of Malta (1589) is an original story of religious conflict, intrigue, and revenge, set against a backdrop of the struggle for supremacy between Spain and the Ottoman Empire in the Mediterranean...

Tamburlaine the Great by Christopher Marlowe Tamburlaine the Great

Tamburlaine the Great is the name of a play in two parts by Christopher Marlowe. It is loosely based on the life of the Central Asian emperor, Timur 'the lame'. Written in 1587 or 1588, the play is a milestone in Elizabethan public drama; it marks a turning away from the clumsy language and loose plotting of the earlier Tudor dramatists, and a new interest in fresh and vivid language, memorable action, and intellectual complexity. Along with Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy, it may be considered the first popular success of London's public stage...

Book cover Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (1616 version)

The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, commonly referred to simply as Doctor Faustus, is a play by Christopher Marlowe, based on the Faust story, in which a man sells his soul to the devil for power and knowledge. Doctor Faustus was first published in 1604, eleven years after Marlowe's death and at least twelve years after the first performance of the play. "No Elizabethan play outside the Shakespeare canon has raised more controversy than Doctor Faustus. There is no agreement concerning the nature of the text and the date of composition...

Book cover Edward II

Christopher Marlowe's Elizabethan tragedy focuses on the downfall of King Edward II, whose love for his favorite courtier, Piers Gaveston, leads to rebellion.

By: Clemence Dane (1888-1965)

Book cover Bill of Divorcement

A Bill of Divorcement describes a day in the lives of a middle-aged British woman named Margaret "Meg" Fairfield, her daughter Sydney, Sydney's fiancé Kit Humphreys, Meg's fiancé Gray Meredith, and Meg's husband Hilary, who escapes after spending almost twenty years in a mental hospital. A 1932 film of the same name was directed by George Cukor and starred Katharine Hepburn and John Barrymore.

By: D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930)

The Prussian Officer and Other Stories by D. H. Lawrence The Prussian Officer and Other Stories

The collection of short stories – of which The Prussian Officer is one – was Lawrence’s first such book. A German officer and his orderly are the focus of the piece and, while socially the superior of his orderly, the officer demonstrates his is the distinctly baser character. (Introduction by Cathy Barratt)

By: Edgar Lee Masters (1868-1950)

Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters Spoon River Anthology

Two hundred and twelve residents of a small town tell their stories without fear of recrimination or ridicule. The only difference is that they're all dead! The two hundred and forty-four poems that form the Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters is really a series of epitaphs about the citizens of a fictional town called Spoon River and deals with the “plain and simple annals” of small town America. Edgar Lee Masters grew up in a small town in Illinois. His father's financial problems forced the young Masters to abandon ideas of college and take up a job instead...

By: Elizabeth Cary (1585-1639)

Book cover Tragedy of Mariam

The Tragedy of Mariam (1613) is the first original drama written in English by a woman. Elizabeth Cary drew on Jewish histories by Josephus to create a closet drama (written to be read, rather than performed live) about Mariam, the second wife of Herod the Great. At the beginning of the play, Mariam believes that Herod has been killed by Octavius, and struggles with how to respond. On the one hand, she is relieved, as she is angry with Herod for killing her brother and grandfather. On the other, she knows that he loved her, and she feels caught by her sense of duty as his wife. When Herod unexpectedly returns, Mariam must decide what to do.

By: Émile Zola (1840-1902)

L'Assommoir by Émile Zola L'Assommoir

Émile François Zola (French pronunciation: [emil zɔˈla]) (2 April 1840 – 29 September 1902) was an influential French writer, the most important exemplar of the literary school of naturalism. More than half of Zola’s novels were part of a set of twenty novels about a family under the Second Empire collectively known as Les Rougon-Macquart. L’Assommoir (1877) is the seventh novel in the series. Usually considered one of Zola’s masterpieces, the novel—a harsh and uncompromising study of alcoholism and poverty in the working-class districts of Paris—was a huge commercial success and established Zola’s fame and reputation throughout France and the world.

By: Emily Bronte (1818-1848)

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte Wuthering Heights

Emily Bronte’s first and only novel, Wuthering Heights, portrays the obsessive and vengeful love story between Heathcliff and Catherine. Images of cruelty and passion with an incorporation of gothic supernatural elements set the dark and misty atmosphere present throughout the novel. Moving between two neighboring houses, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, the wild love story turned destructive obsession is narrated by Mr. Lockwood through his diary entries. Bronte sets the novel into motion with the arrival of Mr...

By: Euripides (480-406 BC)

The Bacchae by Euripides The Bacchae

This tragedy is based on the mythological story of King Pentheus of Thebes and his mother Agave, and their punishment by the god Dionysus (who is Pentheus' cousin) for refusing to worship him.

The Trojan Women by Euripides The Trojan Women

Euripides' play follows the fates of the women of Troy after their city has been sacked, their husbands killed, and as their remaining families are about to be taken away as slaves. However, it begins first with the gods Athena and Poseidon discussing ways to punish the Greek armies because they condoned Ajax the Lesser for dragging Cassandra away from Athena's temple. What follows shows how much the Trojan women have suffered as their grief is compounded when the Greeks dole out additional deaths and divide their shares of women.

Book cover Medea

Euripides' tragedy focuses on the disintegration of the relationship between Jason, the hero who captured the Golden Fleece, and Medea, the sorceress who returned with him to Corinth and had two sons with him. As the play opens, Jason plans to marry the daughter of King Creon, and the lovesick Medea plots how to take her revenge.

Book cover Hippolytus

Eurpides' tragedy tells of Theseus' chaste son Hippolytus, who refuses to worship Aphrodite in favor of Artemis. Aphrodite gets revenge by causing Hippolytus' stepmother Phaedra to fall in love with him, unleashing a chain of tragic events.

By: Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939)

The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford The Good Soldier

The Good Soldier (1915) "... is set just before World War I and chronicles the tragedies of the lives of two seemingly perfect couples. The novel is told using a series of flashbacks in non-chronological order, a literary technique pioneered by Ford. It also makes use of the device of the unreliable narrator, as the main character gradually reveals a version of events that is quite different from what the introduction leads you to believe. The novel was loosely based on two incidents of adultery and on Ford's messy personal life.”Music in sections 1-5 "Minuet in G flat major and Valse Bluette" by Beethoven

By: Francis Beaumont (1584-1616)

The Maid's Tragedy by Francis Beaumont The Maid's Tragedy

Beaumont and Fletcher's The Maid's Tragedy (first published 1619) is a sensational Jacobean sex tragedy. When gentleman soldier Melantius returns to Rhodes, he finds his dear friend Amintor is recently married - but not to his troth-plight love Aspatia (the maid of the title). Instead, the King has arranged a match between Amintor and Melantius' sister, the beautiful Evadne. On his wedding night, Amintor finds that his new wife has married him under false pretenses - and this unleashes a torrent of dire consequences, sexual, emotional, and ultimately political.

By: Francis Brett Young (1884-1954)

The Tragic Bride by Francis Brett Young The Tragic Bride

The story centers on Gabrielle Hewish, only and lonely child of Sir Jocelyn Hewish, a loveable lush and owner of the peaceful Roscarna estate nestled in the Irish countryside. In due course, young Gabrielle falls in love with a Navy man whose untimely demise sends her into a depression, and the consequences of which alter her future, culminating in a fascinating and quite unpredictable relationship with Mrs. Payne and her troubled son Arthur. A story of understanding in it’s finest sense and aptly titled, The Tragic Bride is both interesting as a story and telling as a character study.

By: Frank Norris (1870-1902)

The Octopus by Frank Norris The Octopus

Frank Norris based his 1901 novel The Octopus (A Story of California) on the Mussel Slough Tragedy of 1880, a bloody conflict between ranchers and agents of the Southern Pacific Railroad. The central issue was over the ownership of the ranches, which the farmers had leased from the railroad nearly ten years earlier with intentions of eventually purchasing the land. Although originally priced at $2.50 to $5 per acre, the railroad eventually opened the land for sale at prices adjusted for land improvements; the railroad’s attempts to take possession of the land led the ranchers to defend themselves as depicted in the book.

By: Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805)

Mary Stuart by Friedrich Schiller Mary Stuart

Schiller's tragedy depicts the final days of Mary, Queen of Scots, who has been imprisoned by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, because of her potential claim on the English throne. The action of the play revolves around an attempt to rescue Mary from prison and Elizabeth's indecision over whether or not to have her executed. The 1801 translation is by Joseph Mellish, a friend of Schiller's.

Book cover Love and Intrigue

Ferdinand is an army major and son of President von Walter, a high-ranking noble in a German duke's court, while Luise Miller is the daughter of a middle-class musician. The couple fall in love with each other, but both their fathers tell them to end their affair. The President instead wants to expand his own influence by marrying Ferdinand to Lady Milford, the duke's mistress, but Ferdinand rebels against his father's plan and tries to persuade Luise to elope with him.

Book cover Love and Intrigue

Ferdinand is an army major and son of President von Walter, a high-ranking noble in a German duke's court, while Luise Miller is the daughter of a middle-class musician. The couple fall in love with each other, but both their fathers tell them to end their affair. The President instead wants to expand his own influence by marrying Ferdinand to Lady Milford, the duke's mistress, but Ferdinand rebels against his father's plan and tries to persuade Luise to elope with him.

By: Gaston Leroux (1868-1927)

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux The Phantom of the Opera

A masterly mix of romance, drama, mystery, suspense, love and jealousy, The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux will haunt you long after you've turned the last page. Today the world knows it by Andrew Lloyd-Webber's long running musical on stage and its 2004 film adaptation, and earlier from Lon Chaney's screen portrayal of the dark intruder who roams the Paris Opera House. However, Gaston Leroux's novel was first released as a serial in the French magazine, La Gaulois over four months in 1909-10...

By: Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880)

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert Madame Bovary

The strands woven together in Gustave Flaubert's famous, path breaking 1856 novel Madame Bovary include a provincial town in Normandy, France, a shy young doctor with an indifferent career and a lovely young woman who lives in a fantasy world based on the innumerable romantic novels she reads. Of course there is also the story of a dull marriage punctuated by passionate, adulterous love affairs. First published in serial form in a Parisian magazine and deemed to be the “perfect” novel, Flaubert's debut was received by both readers and critics with acclaim and admiration...

By: Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)

The Master Builder by Henrik Ibsen The Master Builder

Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder, first published in 1892, is about architect Halvard Solness, who despite personal tragedy (including the death of his two sons) has risen to the top of his profession. He has succeeded partly through ruthless competition and exploitation and partly through a seeming ability to force his will on others. His unhappy wife Aline mourns for their lost life, and resents his interest in various young women, including his bookkeeper Kaia Fosli. Solness disregards the ambitions of other architects, including Knut Brovik and his son Ragnar, and seeks solace in the advice of family physician and friend Dr...

Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen Ghosts

Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts was first published in 1881 and staged in 1882, and like his earlier play A Doll's House, profoundly shocked his contemporaries. Dubbed "a dirty deed done in public" by one of its critics, the play focuses on (among other things) venereal disease, euthanasia, and incest. The original title literally means "the ones who return," and the play is about how we can deal with the awful legacy of the past.

Little Eyolf by Henrik Ibsen Little Eyolf

Henrik Ibsen's 1894 play Little Eyolf tells the story of the Allmers family: the father, Alfred, his wife Rita, their crippled nine-year-old son Eyolf, and Alfred's sister Asta. As the play begins, Alfred has just gotten back from a trip to the mountains, and resolves to spend more time with his son, rather than on intellectual pursuits. Asta is romantically pursued by Borgheim, an engineer, while the cracks in Alfred and Rita's marriage gradually reveal themselves. The family receives a visit from the Rat-Wife, and are never the same again.

Rosmersholm by Henrik Ibsen Rosmersholm

Rosmersholm is a play written in 1886 by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. In the estimation of many critics the piece is Ibsen’s masterwork, only equalled by The Wild Duck of 1884. As expressed by the protagonist, Rosmer, the theme of the play is social and political change, in which the traditional ruling classes relinquish their right to impose their ideals on the rest of society, but the action is entirely personal, resting on the conduct of the immoral, or amoral, “free thinking” heroine, Rebecca, who sets herself to undermine Rosmer’s religious and political beliefs because of his influential position in the community...

Book cover When We Dead Awaken

When We Dead Awaken (1899) is the last play by Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen. Dreamlike and highly symbolic, the play charts the dissolution of sculptor Arnold Rubek's marriage to Maia, her flirtation with Ulfheim, and his involvement with the mysterious Irene, his former model. The tensions rise between the characters as they climb higher and higher into the Norwegian mountains.

Book cover Brand

Inflamed by what he saw as his Norwegian homeland's shocking betrayal of Denmark after the Prussian invasion of Danish territory, Ibsen wrote "Brand" as an indictment of human complacency and rigidity of mind. Composing this "dramatic poem" from his self-imposed exile in Italy, Ibsen had long agonized over the stodgy provincialism of his countrymen, but the abandonment of Denmark took on the dimensions in his imagination of a human tragedy far surpassing his own personal experiences. Brand is a priest who refuses to compromise, at the cost of great suffering to others, and who lives by unrealizable ideals...

By: Homer

The Iliad by Homer The Iliad

A divinely beautiful woman who becomes the cause of a terrible war in which the gods themselves take sides. Valor and villainy, sacrifices and betrayals, triumphs and tragedies play their part in this three thousand year old saga. The Iliad throws us right into the thick of battle. It opens when the Trojan War has already been raging for nine long years. An uneasy truce has been declared between the Trojans and the Greeks (Achaeans as they're called in The Iliad.) In the Greek camp, Agamemnon the King of Mycenae and Achilles the proud and valiant warrior of Phthia are locked in a fierce contest to claim the spoils of war...

By: Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre

Paul and Virginia by Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre Paul and Virginia

Paul and Virginia was first published in 1787. The novel's title characters are very good friends since birth who fall in love, but sadly die when the ship Le Saint-Geran is wrecked. The story is set in the island of Mauritius under French rule, then named Île de France, which the author had visited. Written on the eve of the French Revolution, the novel is hailed as Bernardin's finest work. It records the fate of a child of nature corrupted by the false, artificial sentimentality that prevailed at the time among the upper classes of France.

By: Jean Racine (1639-1699)

Book cover Phaedra

In the court of Louis XIV, adaptations of Greek tragedies were very popular. This play, heavily influenced by Euripides' Hippolytus, deals with love that violates social taboos. Note: In Racine's work, a new "scene" begins whenever a character enters or exits. Therefore, there are no stage directions, only a list of the characters on stage for each scene. The action is continuous for the entire act.


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