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
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In approximate order of composition, they are. These works are often divided into distinct subclasses reflecting the playwright's development. The first seven, all written before about 1598, are loosely classed as the 'early comedies', though they vary considerably in both quality and character. The last four of these—Loves Labour's Lost, the Dream, the Merchant, and the Merry Wives—are sometimes separated as a transitional group, or linked with the next three in a large 'middle comedies' classification. The Merry Wives is somewhat anomalous in any case; it represents a type of comedy—the 'city play', a speciality of suchwriters as Ben Jonson and Thomas Dekker—that Shakespeare did not otherwise write. The next three plays. Much Ado, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night, are often thought to constitute Shakespeare's greatest achievement in comedy; all written around 1599-1600, they are called the romantic, or mature, comedies. The next group of three plays, called the Problem Plays, which include Alls Well that Ends Well, Troilus and Cressida, and Measure for Measure that were written in the first years of the 17th century, as Shakespeare was simultaneously creating his greatest tragedies. The final cluster, all written between about 1607 and 1613, make up the bulk of the playwright's final period. They are known as the Romances which include Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, The Tempest, and often The Two Noble Kinsman.