Common Features of a Shakespeare Comedy

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Common Features of a Shakespeare Comedy
What makes a Shakespeare comedy identifiable if the genre is not distinct from the Shakespeare tragedies and histories? This is an ongoing area of debate, but many believe that the comedies share certain characteristics, as described below: * Comedy through language: Shakespeare communicated his comedy through language and his comedy plays are peppered with clever word play, metaphors and insults. 1. Love: The theme of love is prevalent in every Shakespeare comedy. Often, we are presented with sets of lovers who, through the course of the play, overcome the obstacles in their relationship and unite. Love in Shakespearean comedy is stronger than the inertia of custom, the power of evil, or the fortunes of chance and time. In all of these plays but one (Troilus and Cressida), the obstacles presented to love are triumphantly overcome, as conflicts are resolved and errors forgiven in a general aura of reconciliation and marital bliss at the play's close. Such intransigent characters as Shylock, Malvolio, and Don John, who choose not to act out of love, cannot be accommodated in this scheme, and they are carefully isolated from the action before the climax.  *

* Complex plots: The plotline of a Shakespeare comedy contains more twists and turns than his tragedies and histories. Although the plots are complex, they do follow similar patterns. For example, the climax of the play always occurs in the third act and the final scene has a celebratory feel when the lovers finally declare their love for each other. Moreover, the context of marriage—at least alluded to, is the cap-stone of the comedic solution, for these plays not only delight and entertain, they affirm, guaranteeing the future. Marriage, with its promise of offspring, reinvigorates society and transcends the purely personal element in sexual attraction and romantic love. * Mistaken identities: The plot is often driven by mistaken identity. Sometimes this is an intentional part of a villain’s plot, as in Much Ado About Nothing when Don John tricks Claudio into believing that his fiance has been unfaithful through mistaken identity. Characters also play scenes in disguise and it is not uncommon for female characters to disguise themselves as male characters, seen in Portia in the Merchant of venice. Shakespeare’s 17 comedies are the most difficult to classify because they overlap in style with other genres. Critics often describe some plays as tragi-comedies because they mix equal measures of tragedy and comedy. For example, Much Ado About Nothing starts as a Shakespeare comedy, but takes on the characteristics of a tragedy when Hero is disgraced and fakes her own death. At this point, the play has more in common with Romeo and Juliet, one of Shakespeare’s key tragedies. The 18 plays generally classified as comedy are as follows: 1 All's Well That Ends Well

2 As You Like It
3 The Comedy of Errors
4 Cymbeline
5 Love's Labour’s Lost
6 Measure for Measure
7 The Merry Wives of Windsor
8 The Merchant of Venice
9 A Midsummer Night's Dream
10 Much Ado About Nothing
11 Pericles, Prince of Tyre
12 The Taming of the Shrew
13 The Tempest
14 Troilus and Cressida
15 Twelfth Night
16 Two Gentlemen of Verona
17 The Two Noble Kinsmen
18 The Winter's Tale
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Comedy is a drama that provokes laughter at human behavior, usually involves romantic love, and usually has a happy ending. In Shakespeare's day the conventional comedy enacted the struggle of young lovers to surmount some difficulty, usually presented by their elders, and the play ended happily in marriage or the prospect of marriage. Sometimes the struggle was to bring separated lovers or family members together, and their reunion was the happy culmination (this often involved marriage also). Shakespeare generally observed these...
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