Shakespeare remains the most studied author on school and degree level English courses. However, the way in which his plays are studied is rapidly changing. Aimed squarely at the student new to Shakespeare, this volume provides a thorough general introduction to the plays, based on the exciting new approaches shaping the field of Shakespeare Studies. The author offers a refreshingly clear guide to: Shakespeare's language the plays as performance texts the cultural and political contexts of the plays early modern theatre practice new understandings of the major genres. Sean McEvoy illustrates the way in which interpretations of Shakespeare are linked to cultural and political contexts and offers readings of the most frequently studied plays in light of contemporary critical thought. He explores such issues as social justice, the oppression or liberation of women and the idea of writing history. Demystifying Shakespeare's plays and bringing critical ideas within the beginner's grasp, Shakespeare: The Basics is the essential resource for every student of Shakespeare.