The Characteristics of Shakespeare comedies


Shakespeare wrote many different forms of literary works and one of them is comedy. At the end of his professional life he had written four famous comedies which were later called his ³romances². Shakespeare¹s comedies were not primarily love stories but they all included a love plot. His romances all had the happy ending of a comedy, but in a way they hinted on violence (Prentice Hall Literature). His focus and emphasis was clearly towards the structure and language of his comedies, which made his comedies quite distinct from others. The ideas and concepts also made his comedies designated, as we experienced it in one of his most famous comedy A Midsummer Night¹s 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 and discipline. 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 a festive ending. In the beginning of A Midsummer Nights Dream we see that Theseus has entire control over the people in Athens and he is getting ready to wed Hyppolita, queen of the amazons. Then quickly the whole situation changes when Lysander 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 and duchess and the four lovers are united in the bonds of marriage and they are entertaining themselves with dance and music. Their world of love has come to its proper order.
The language was evidently the main reason why Shakespeare¹s comedies were more amusing than other comedies of his time. He used many techniques to illustrate humor, and sometimes we have to know the inner meanings to find it comical. The play of words or puns were very popular in the comedies of Shakespeare. Quince makes a good pun when he mentions the French crown. It is a pun because it could have more than one meaning, it could mean gold coins or also baldness which is often caused by treatments of STD. Another good example of a pun is what Lysander says to Hermia ³For lying so, Hermia, I do not lie². This example shows how good Shakespeare was at playing around with words as he uses the word lie in two different ways. Lie could mean both lying down or not telling the truth. Some of these puns show a lot of facetiousness and wit. Lysander says to Demetrius ³You have her father¹s love. Do you marry him² implying that Demetrius might be attractive to males. The obscene jokes also play a great part in making the play comical. What is particularly absorbing is that most of these unclean jokes are unintended. The actors mean something else, but we get the wrong message. When the actors say ³I kiss the walls hole² or ³Cursed be thy stones² they literally mean it, while our mind searches for hidden meanings. Oxymoron and ironies give an additional meaning for the reader. Titania who has fallen in love with an ass says ³Thou art as wise, as thou art beautiful² when we know that an ass is neither beautiful nor intelligent.
Another thing that makes the comedy humorous is the way Shakespeare shows stupidity among the characters. He uses different ways, like malapropism, exaggerated alliteration, mispronunciation and also bad punctuation. In the play we could easily distinguish the people who were not well educated through the mistakes they made when talking and acting. The craftsmen very often used wrong but similar words unintentionally which changed the meaning of what they were trying to say. They might use a big word and try to sound clever, when they actually sounded stupid. Using alliteration in a speech normally sounds penetrating and intelligent but when it is exaggerated like, ³Whereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade, he bravely broached his boiling bloody breast², it sounds awkward and pointless. Mispronunciations like perfet instead of perfect and bad punctuation like ³We do not come, as minding to content you, our true intent is.² makes the characters sound silly and the play rather funny. At the end when the workers were acting