Get 20% off StudyMode
Page 1 of 5

The Merchant of Venice as a Romantic Comedy - Critical Analysis

Continues for 4 more pages »
Read full document

The Merchant of Venice as a Romantic Comedy - Critical Analysis

  • By
  • October 1999
  • 1704 Words
  • 4 Views
Page 1 of 5
We can trace the origin of Comedy to Dionysis- the Greek God of Wine who was hilarious, satirical and irreverent in spirit. Ben Jonson in ‘Volpone' (1605) that is considered to be the greatest comedy in English epitomized the classical spirit of comedy. Shakespeare was aware of the classical tradition by the chose to follow the Roman tradition of Petrarch and Boccacio.

Shakespeare's early comedies were classical in spirit but the later ones were more emotional, fanciful and humorous. ‘The Merchant of Venice' falls between there two categories. It leads the list of mature comedies; has more Romantic characteristics than classical. It is also one of the earliest productions of the middle period. In this play Shakespeare seems to have obtained the highest use of his powers as a playwright, his faculties as a poet and philosopher seem to be approaching their grand maturity without losing the ardor and hopefulness of youth. There is loftiness of thought and expression.

Romance was an old tradition and Romantic ideas were common during Shakespeare's time. Romantic Comedy in the 16th C was meant for the Aristocracy and the comic relief in the plays was meant for the groundlings. There were many differences between the Romantic Comedies and classical comedies. In the classical tradition, the characters were presented with ruthless force and the plays were realistic, spiritual and critical. But in Romantic comedies that Shakespeare wrote there was plenty of with but there was also an appeal to the emotions rather than the intellect and they were also less critical in purpose. Like Meredith said, they are "thunders of laughter clearing the air and heart." It is a comedy of emotions, which wins the audience's sympathy with the woes and exhalations of the characters.

The various characteristics of Romantic comedies are present in ‘The Merchant of Venice'. The leading themes of most of these plays were Love and Friendship. These comedies were...