Romantic plays have inspired us and changed literature forever. These top 10 classical romantic plays in the world are some of the best plays ever written. They include the passion, romance and drama of the classical age. While many of these plays were written hundreds of years ago, they are still relevant today. The early authors were writing about implicit human traits like love and romance, so these plays will remain relevant forever.
If you want to learn about how relationships were handled in past ages, these plays will help. Focused on English drama, these plays show how romantic relationships and love developed centuries ago. From chivalrous knights to witches, these plays also have a heavy influence of the supernatural.
In Shakespearean plays, there are also elements like gender-bending or gender reversals to further complicate the romances. Plot lines like rebellions, intrigue, deceit and treachery round out the play for a more complicated story line.
Obviously, there are far too many plays from history to ever include all of them in a list of just 10 plays. We have done our best to include the top 10 romantic plot lines from classical plays, but we had to leave many, many other options off the list. If we missed one of your favorite romances from classical plays, make sure to leave a comment at the bottom of the article.
Top 10 Classical Romantic Plays in the World
1. Much Ado About Nothing
This is one of the most memorable Shakespearean romances of all time. Beatrice and Benedick are comic and romantic at once. While Claudio and Hero get a lot of the romantic attention, the other characters in the play really deserve more attention as well. They are like a variation on Orlando and Rosalind. Kept apart by pride and battle, they are an extremely lovable couple when together. Both partners have a chance to turn their merry romance each time they interact, but will they?
As a tragedy, Macbeth normally is not considered a romance. It is grim, dark and difficult to watch at times. The basic premise of the play revolves around Macbeth’s desire to become the Thane of Cawdor. With this in mind, he betrays King Duncan and kills his friend, Banquo. The blind ambition of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is, at times, difficult to watch. At the same time, their relationship to each other is a romance worth watching. With a body count piling up around them, the couple stays true to each other and works as a team. If you like shows like House of Cards or Natural Born Killers, then this would be the play to watch.
This is another play that is technically a tragedy. Written by William Shakespeare, this play is often grouped as one of Shakespeare’s Late Romances like Pericles, the Winter’s Tale, Prince of Tyre and the Tempest. It has plot lines of treachery, deception and intrigue, but the romantic relationships are also worth watching.
4. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
In this play, Puck and Oberon manage to play a trick where they make the fairy queen (Titania) fall in loved with an enchanted donkey-man called Bottom. For Act Two, we laugh at these fools in love. At the same time, the pair is not quite ridiculous. We have all fallen for someone only to realize later how insane this type of love is. Love can be absurd and completely mad. It is not quite a satire because there is some truth to this type of intense, transient love.
5. Romeo and Juliet
No list of the top 10 classical romantic plays would be complete without Romeo and Juliet. Written by William Shakespeare at the start of his career, it became one of the most famous tragedies ever. Love, passion and star-crossed lovers are the main focus of the play. These two young lovers are from different families who seem to have an eternal feud going on between them. Despite all odds, the two lovers fall for each other, but they are unable to live out their dreams together.
6. Troilus and Cressida
This play is set against the backdrop of the Trojan War. Other than covering themes like deceit and betrayal, the story also focuses on how Troilus falls in love with the beautiful Cressida.
7. Twelfth Night
Twelfth Night is one of the best comedies written by Shakespeare. Like many of his plays, it addresses themes like cross-dressing, love and mistaken identity. As far as the love plot lines go though, there are many, many potential lovers, hidden identities and plot lines that complicate the tale. At its heart, it is a story of the cross-dressing Viola secretly loving Duke Orsino who is in love with Lady Olivia. Viola tries to help Orsino woo Olivia, and the entire play is hilarious to watch.
8. The Winter’s Tale
This is one of Shakespeare’s masterpieces. It is a highly charge psychological drama with conflicting emotions. Zany, crazy plot twists give this play a happy ending, but you wouldn’t expect everything to end well unless you knew it going into the play.
9. The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew is all about the battle of the sexes. If you have never seen this play, you need to. The general plot is about Petruchio getting tamed and married by Katharina. Jokes about marriage, cross-dressing and more make this a hilarious play to watch. We spend most of the play watching two people fight fervently to maintain their independence and become dominant. By the end of the play, they finally learn about how to compromise with someone else and be in love. When it comes down to it, that is what romance is all about.
10. The Tempest
The last play on this list is another classical Shakespearean play. Unlike some plays, it has a supernatural element to it. Unexpected events, discoveries and exploration would normally make the plot line unbelievable, but Shakespeare somehow manages to pull everything off and make it seem plausible. Contemporary editors label it as a romance, and there are certainly enough romantic narratives in it to classify it as such.