Betrayal. Revenge. Conspiracy. Murdering your way up the ladder of power. People usually associate these plot elements with Shakespeare’s tragedies, but I see them operate most strongly in his histories. That’s one reason why those tend to be my favorite of his works.
Besides just being The Sopranos on an Elizabethan stage, the language here is where Shakespeare gets the most deliciously vicious.
Consider some of the lesser history plays. Even there, the dialogue tends to be enough to make one’s blood boil.
Henry VI, Part II takes us into the War of the Roses, which was also the historical basis for Game of Thrones, so you know this’ll be full of politically venomous mayhem:
And even now my burthen’d heart would break,
Should I not curse them. Poison be their drink!
Gall, worse than gall, the daintiest that they taste!
Their sweetest shade a grove of cypress trees!
Their chiefest prospect murdering basilisks!
Their softest touch as smart as lizards’ sting!
Their music frightful as the serpent’s hiss,
And boding screech-owls make the concert full!
All the foul terrors in dark-seated hell— (III.2.320-328)
And this one has my favorite lines of all in Shakespeare’s early plays:
Upon thy eye-balls murderous tyranny
Sits in grim majesty, to fright the world. (III.2.49-50)