The Characteristics Of Shakespeares Comedies

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The Characteristics of Shakespeare's ComediesShakespeare wrote many different forms of literary works and one of them iscomedy. At the end of his professional life he had written four famous comedieswhich were later called his 'romances'. Shakespeare's comedies were notprimarily love stories but they all included a love plot. His romances all hadthe happy ending of a comedy, but in a way they hinted on violence (PrenticeHall Literature). His focus and emphasis was clearly towards the structure andlanguage of his comedies, which made his comedies quite distinct from others. The ideas and concepts also made his comedies designated, as we experienced itin one of his most famous comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The structure of Shakespeare comedies is common in all his comic drama. The play goes through three phases. In the first stage there is order anddiscipline. Then it goes through a situation where there is chaos and disorder. Finally in the third stage order is restored again and the play ends in afestive ending. In the beginning of A Midsummer Nights Dream we see that Theseushas entire control over the people in Athens and he is getting ready to wedHyppolita, queen of the amazons. Then quickly the whole situation changes whenLysander and Hermia flee into the forest and complications start to build up. The play ends with a joyful ending, when daylight has returned, the duke andduchess and the four lovers are united in the bonds of marriage and they areentertaining themselves with dance and music

Their world of love has come toits proper order. The language was evidently the main reason why Shakespeare's comedies weremore amusing than other comedies of his time. He used many techniques toillustrate humor, and sometimes we have to know the inner meanings to find itcomical. The play of words or puns were very popular in the comedies ofShakespeare. Quince makes a good pun when he mentions the French crown. It is apun because it could have more than one meaning, it could mean gold coins oralso baldness which is often caused by treatments of STD.

Another good exampleof a pun is what Lysander says to Hermia 'For lying so, Hermia, I do not lie'.This example shows how good Shakespeare was at playing around with words as heuses the word lie in two different ways. Lie could mean both lying down or nottelling the truth. Some of these puns show a lot of facetiousness and wit. Lysander says to Demetrius 'You have her father's love. Do you marry him'implying that Demetrius might be attractive to males. The obscene jokes alsoplay a great part in making the play comical.

What is particularly absorbing isthat most of these unclean jokes are unintended. The actors mean something else, but we get the wrong message. When the actors say 'I kiss the walls hole' or'Cursed be thy stones' they literally mean it, while our mind searches forhidden meanings. Oxymoron and ironies give an additional meaning for the reader. Titania who has fallen in love with an ass says 'Thou art as wise, as thou artbeautiful' when we know that an ass is neither beautiful nor intelligent. Another thing that makes the comedy humorous is the way Shakespeare showsstupidity among the characters. He uses different ways, like malapropism, exaggerated alliteration, mispronunciation and also bad punctuation. In the playwe could easily distinguish the people who were not well educated through themistakes they made when talking and acting.

The craftsmen very often used wrongbut similar words unintentionally which changed the meaning of what they weretrying to say. They might use a big word and try to sound clever, when theyactually sounded stupid. Using alliteration in a speech normally soundspenetrating and intelligent but when it is exaggerated like, 'Whereat, withblade, with bloody blameful blade, he bravely broached his boiling bloodybreast', it sounds awkward and pointless. Mispronunciations like perfet insteadof perfect and bad punctuation like 'We do not come, as minding to content you, our true intent is.' makes the characters sound silly and the play rather funny. At the end w hen the workers were acting the Play Piramus and Thisbe we see howlow their knowledge of acting was. Theseus says to the fellow members of theaudience that since the wall is a person, it should curse back at Pyramus. Hemeant it as a joke, but Bottom without knowing where the proper parameters ofthe stage are, steps out of character and addresses Theseus directly, explainingthat the wall shouldn't speak, because the line is actually Thisby's cue to comeon stage. Some of the ideas and concepts that we have encountered in the past arealso found in Shakespeare comedies. The idea of love triangle is very importantin A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The love triangle formed conflicts andcomplications which developed into the main plot. Many characters becameinvolved into the love triangle, and with the help of Puck the situation becamemore intense and sometimes very amusing. Another concept that we see in the playis the reversal of role between male and female: Helena chasing Demetrius, whenit is usually the male chasing the female. Helena's role transforms from apassive feminine one to an active, assertive masculine one. Flute who is a malehad to dress up and act like a female when he was Thisbe in the play. AlsoPyramus was described of having cherry lips and white cheeks, which is actuallyan ideal description of a female.

The idea of waking and dreaming was also verycomical, since they were actually experiencing it all. All the Athenians, plusBottom and T itania fell asleep sometimes during the play and they all woke upto have themselves or their situation changed. After waking from their finalsleep, the lovers were amazed to see each other there and felt that theirexperiences were just dreams. All the fairy adventures that took place duringthe moonlit night seemed just dreamlike hallucinations. The ancient idea ofmetamorphosis is also expressed in Shakespeare's comedy.

People are changingtheir understanding their feelings and their images throughout the play. Withthe love juice of cupid both Demetrius and Lysander learned to change thereceiver of their affection. We see in the play that love can turn people around, and sometimes make asses of them. Bottom transforming into an ass was a goodexample of metamorphosis. The structure, the language, the ideas and concepts are all important partsof a Shakespeare comedy and with these apparent characteristics it is quite easyto distinguish a Shakespeare play from another.

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