In this book Bradley approaches the major tragedies of Shakespeare through an extended study of the characters, who were presented as personalities independent of their place in the plays. Though his approach has been questioned since the 1930s, the work is considered a classical masterpiece and is still widely read.
The book studies in detail four tragedies of Shakespeare, namely, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth. But much that is said on the main preliminary subjects holds good, within certain limits, of other dramas of Shakespeare. Of course, it will apply to these other works only in part, and to some of them more fully than to others.