So as some of you know, I’m currently depressed. Thus, why not talk about a tragic topic? Like death? (It turns out that making the below chart ended up making me feel a lot better, so that’s a great thing.)
As some of you know, Shakespeare likes to stack the deaths in tragedies towards the end of the play, which makes sense, as it is a fairly logical thing to do. But let’s see how much this stacking is, and how deaths are distributed elsewhere.
It turns out that in all cases except Othello, some death occurs in a previous act. (Actually, since the precise time of Brabantio’s death isn’t given, it might be that his death occurred chronologically around that time.) Macbeth stands out in that there is a substantial amount of plot at the end without a death—in fact, the last scene, Act V Scene 11, is deathless. (Okay, maybe that’s not the right word; the fact that Macduff carries Macbeth’s severed head and shows it to everyone shows that death is definitely in the air.) King Lear seems most end-stacked, but I would say that the earlier acts of King Lear definitely optimized the degree of tragedy attainable without deaths. Titus Andronicus…uh, yeah. Good job Shakespeare. You managed a death in every act. Also, one might as well add in the twenty-one of Titus’ sons that died in battle for “before.” Do you notice any interesting patterns in the death chronology?
By the way, “After” refers to “shortly after.” Of course, everyone dies eventually.