The Complete Deaths will detail all of the Bard’s 74 scripted deaths in one play, from early rapier thrusts to the more elaborate viper-breast-application adopted by Cleopatra. The total makes Shakespeare’s complete works more gory than notorious HBO TV show Game of Thrones, which has scripted 61 deaths in 50 episodes, including the controversial burning of a child at the stake. […]
Over the past four centuries, the brutality of Shakespeare’s plays has become the subject of endless academic study, but his contemporary critics didn’t approve of the on-stage gore. Michael Dobson, director of the Shakespeare Institute, said that Elizabethan drama was known for being gruesome1: “The English drama was notorious for on-stage deaths; they were thought crass2. For neo-classical critics, deaths should be off-stage.” […] Crouch said: “The first history plays are quite rudimentary in how to snuff out3 a life, but he has a more sophisticated means of killing people as the plays go on. “There is some extraordinarily exquisite stuff, the smothering4 of Desdemona, Cleopatra putting an asp to her breast, the suicides in Julius Caesar with Brutus asking each of the men individually if they will hold a sword while he runs on to it.”
“Shakespeare’s 74 death scenes in a single play more gory than Game of Thrones”, Alice Vincent, The Telegraph, 2015.
1. horrifying, frightful
4. choking, strangling