"Shakespeare's pathos, and it may be added his melancholy also, lies quite close to his humour; and the reason for this is manifest when we enquire into the nature of both. Since his pathos consists largely in a conflict of agreeable and painful emotions, a slight change in texture may readily give us, instead of a pathos enlivened by humour, a humour sweetened with pathos." J. F. Pyre, Shakespeare's Pathos (1916)
So shaken as we are, so wan with care,
Find we a time for frighted peace to pant,
And breathe short-winded accents of new broils
To be commenced in strands afar remote. (King Henry IV, Part 1, 1.1.1-4), King Henry
The play opens one year after the death of Richard II, and King Henry is making plans for a crusade to the Holy Land to cleanse himself of the guilt he feels over the usurpation of Richard's crown. But the crusade must be postponed when Henry learns that Welsh rebels, led by Owen Glendower, have defeated and captured Mortimer. Although the brave Henry Percy, nicknamed Hotspur, has quashed much of the uprising, there is still much trouble in Scotland. Read on...
By love, that first did prompt me to enquire.
He lent me counsel, and I lent him eyes.
I am no pilot, yet, wert thou as far
As that vast shore wash'd with the furthest sea,
I should adventure for such merchandise. (Romeo and Juliet, 2.2.84-88), Romeo
Here Romeo unintentionally reiterates his earlier assertion that fate is his true pilot:
He that hath the steerage of my course
Direct my sail! (1.4.112-13)
Note how Romeo uses the same motif at the sorrowful end of the lovers' journey, apostrophizing the poison itself as his final pilot:
Thou bitter pilot, now at once run on
The dashing rocks thy seasick weary bark! (5.3.117-18)
The general consensus is that Shakespeare wrote thirty-seven plays. However, no one can know for certain because of the inexact documentation at the time the plays were first being organized and published. If we include The Two Noble Kinsmen and two lost plays attributed to Shakespeare, Cardenio and Love's Labour's Won, then we could say he wrote, either alone or in collaboration, forty plays. Read on...