Shakespeare - Comedy

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Shakespeare wrote many plays during his lifetime. Some of his plays have similar comedic characteristics and then other plays are the exact opposite of comedy. Shakespeare wrote tragedies, romance, history, comedy and problem plays all with great success. During the performance of these plays there was no scenery so great time was taken when developing the characters and the plot so the plays would be entertaining. A Midsummers Night's Dream and Much Ado About Nothing are just two of the comedies Shakespeare wrote. These two plays have many things in common where as Measure for Measure is a problem play with a totally different tone. Comparing and contrasting these three plays will help us to understand what Shakespeare thought comedy was in the 1600's and to see if our views on comedy are the same today.

A Midsummer Night's Dream is a festive comedy. The play takes place in June and this is a bewitched time. In the spring the custom is to celebrate the return of fertility to the earth. During this time the young people spend the night in the woods to celebrate. Shakespeare uses the greenworld pattern in this play. The play begins in the city, moves out to the country and then back to the city. Being in the country makes things better because there is tranquility, freedom and people can become uncivilized versus when they are in the city and have to follow customs and laws and behave rationally.

Comedies contain blocking figures and in this play it is Egeus. If he was not in the way, Hermia could marry Lysander. Since he is causing problems in his daughters life by trying to make her marry Demetrius, this begins the journey into the woods. Egeus threatened Hermia with death if she were to marry Lysander so she thinks the only way they can be together is to run away.

One strange element is why Egeus was so set on Hermia marrying Demetrius. Lysander came from as good a family as Demetrius. Both were well possessed with property and money so Egeus's power is made to seem senseless.

The play moves into the woods which is haunted by fairies who are there to bless the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta. The quarreling between Oberon and Titania over the changeling boy leads to the king wanting to embarrass Titania with the love juice by making her fall in love with a monster. The first person she sees is Bottom and she falls violently in love with him.

Oberon is making a spectacle of Titania and Bottom. It is ridiculous that she is in love with him because he is from such a lower class than her, he is human and she is a fairy, and he has the head of an ass. She is also a queen and he is an uneducated working man and a match like this would never happen. Bottom has such a problem with language. He speaks in malapropisms. He tries to say one word but always comes up with the wrong one. He is a working man who tries to act more educated that he really is . Through Bottom and Titania we see that love is blind. Also, while Titania is under the influence of the love juice she releases the changeling boy to Oberon so he did accomplish his goal.

The confusion between Lysander, Hermia, Helena, and Demetrius because of the love juice is full of funny occurrences. When Lysander wakes up and thinks he is in love with Helena, Hermia is ignored and treated badly by Lysander. Then not only was Lysander saying he loved Helena, Demetrius was also treating Hermia badly. This left poor Hermia so upset but we as the audience know this is a prank and soon the spell will be lifted.

The main characters in the play are all developed to a point where the audience can identify with them. We learn things about them individually so we can feel happy or sad when things happen in their life. I felt sad for Hermia when she was jolted by Lysander because their love for each other had seemed so strong and she was so confused by his behavior. Even though the audience knows the truth it is easy to feel sad for her. As the play...
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