There is no doubt that Shakespeare was the author of great pieces of literature during an interesting time period. Given the circumstances, he was indeed mastering his craft during a very tumultuous juncture in British history. When one reads Richard III, they don’t necessarily have to know a great deal about the War of Roses to understand that there is some serious strife going on. However, if the reader takes some time to understand this fascinating string of events, the story of Richard and his fall becomes much more interesting. In all of his brilliance, Shakespeare manages to toy with the idea of humor in this very morose play. As a matter of fact, he does this in many, if not all of his tragedies.
When Antonio is dragged to the Orsino’s court by his guards, he claims that Viola (whom he thinks is Sebastian) is the cause of all his troubles. Antonio tells the duke his entire story about how he met Sebastian and Sebastian's supposed betrayal of Antonio:
In I Henry IV and II Henry IV, William Shakespeare brings together drama and comedy to create two of the most compelling history plays ever written. Many of Shakespeare's other works are nearly absolute in their adherence to either the comic or tragic traditions, but in the two Henry IV plays Shakespeare combines comedy and drama in ways that seem to bring a certain realism to his characters, and thus the plays. The present essay is an examination of the various and significant effects that Shakespeare's comedic scenes have on I Henry IV and II Henry IV. The Diversity of Society
Romantic desire is struggle ingrained within William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, strained by the nature of homosexual love. The depths of human sexuality are explored in Twelfth Night through the relationships between Duke Orsino and Viola as Cesario, Olivia and Viola, and Sebastian and Antonio. Twelfth Night represents homoerotic love in both radical and conservative ways, while furthermore questioning the boundaries of gender and disguise depicted by the relationships featured in the play. Shakespeare’s work is profound, since the play acknowledges homosexual love without punishment, and challenges if love is truly determined by gender, while also upholding
Susan Snyder once said that comedy is “the ground from which, or against which, tragedy develops… comedy and tragedy function as polar opposites, or as two sides of the same coin.” (Snyder. Print). The prototypical comic clash between blocking father and youthful beaus, which underlies the activities of numerous Shakespearean comedies, illuminates one strand of the activity of Hamlet: the relationship between Polonius, Ophelia and the Prince. Also unmistakable in different tragedies, such as Romeo and Juliet and
Much of the first half of the Twelfth Night is about disguised identities and general misconceptions about who is actually who. The play opens on a note of melancholy and death, Orsino grieving because Olivia refuses to love him and Viola and Olivia mourning the deaths of their brothers. It is following a shipwreck that Viola disguises herself as a male, ensuring that confusion will be part of the plot. The idea of masquerading as a member of the opposite sex is a familiar device and the “complications, artificial as they may appear, are an essential part of the play’s complete development.” (Travers 308) It is interesting to note that unlike other comedies such as “The Tempest”, Shakespeare does not create an older generation who prevent the young lovers from being together; instead it is the perplexity about gender and that keeps them apart. Sebastian, Viola’s identical twin, is the solution to all of the problems, though his appearance does add to it for a short while. Viola, dressed as Cesario, is mistaken for Sebastian by Antonio, and is asked for the money that he gave to Sebastian. However, this type of confusion adds to the comic nature of the plot as the audience is aware of the concealed identities. Order eventually comes from the chaos, disguises are shed and identities are revealed. The appearance of Sebastian ensures that the marriage will be possible for the main characters; Viola is free to marry Orsino and Olivia marries Sebastian, although she
This is where the link of Antonio’s homosexual feelings towards Bassanio can be seen. In the end, Antonio is unable to pay Shylock back on his loan. Antonio, on the verge of having a pound of flesh taken, directs a speech toward Bassanio regarding his love for him. A closer look at this particular speech, which occurs in Act IV Scene I, can help the reader to better understand Shakespeare’s intricate wording that portrays homosexuality in Antonio.
Comedy, in the Elizabethan era, often included themes of wit, mistaken identity, love, and tragedy, all tied up with a happy ending. These themes are prevalent in William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, a comical play that explores the pangs of unrequited love and the confusion of gender. Love is a powerful emotion that causes suffering, happiness, and disorder throughout the play. The play also demonstrates the blurred lines of gender identity, which ties into the modern day debate on sexuality and gender identity. The main characters in the play, Viola, Olivia, and Orsino are connected by a love triangle, each person pursuing an unrequited love. Suffering from love and the fluidity of gender are the prevalent themes explored throughout the play and intertwined with Viola, Olivia, and Orsino.
In 'Twelfth Night’, gender and sexuality in many ways add to the play’s themes of madness. 'Twelfth Night ' is a reflection of renaissance thought and culture, the renaissance was a transitional period from the medieval to the radical Elizabethan era. The culture of the time was a contradictory one, as from one aspect it was influenced by the patriarchal medieval time, where women were under the rule of men and seen as needing the protection of men, however, from another perspective, the culture was a changing one as women were starting to receive education and many humanists believed that women should be given more rights. The play reflects these attitudes and often challenges the social hierarchy and establishes ideas on gender roles, sexuality and cross-dressing. These factors indeed undermine the expectations of male and female behaviour, and in turn further the play 's theme of madness which has a comedic effect on the audience due to the shock humour it provides.
Shakespearean plays are often known for their outstanding entertainment and classic comic conflict. In his masterwork, Hamlet, Shakespeare uses these aspects to serve his thematic purpose. He has used comedy throughout many of his historic plays, but in this play, comedy is the drawing point that makes it fun and entertaining, yet clear and intuitive. Generally, his tragedies are not seen as comical, but in reality, they are full of humor. However, these comic elements don’t simply serve to relieve tension; they have much significance to the play itself. The characters of Hamlet, Polonius, Osric, and the Gravediggers, prove to be very influential characters, and throughout the play, they are the individuals that
Critics of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, such as L. G. Salingar in his essay “The Design of Twelfth Night,” constantly dwell upon its inconsistency of happiness. Indeed, Twelfth Night is a romantic comedy of joy that brings audience laughter and applause. Yet, under the atmosphere of mirth and liberty suggested by Twelfth Night, a Saturnalian Carnival where pleasure rules, we are constantly reminded of misery, hatred, and depression. Over the course of different character’s pursuit in “what [they] will”, we witness their conflict, laugh at their madness, sense the darkness in their society, and ultimately cast doubt on whether this immoderate pleasure will sustain. Through his use of multiple foils, Shakespeare guides his audience to unfold the limits of festivity.
When Antonio is around Sebastian, he is cool and collected, but is also strong willed and compassionate. He is a constantly changing character, but yet, sometimes, it seems he doesn’t change at all. Antonio is a character that constantly fascinates people with longing to know more about his past, but also with his bond with Sebastian. The ending of Twelfth Night leaves much to be desired when it comes to Antonio. Sebastian is with Olivia, and now, Antonio is alone. He came this far for Sebastian, but, while he was set free, that's about as satisfying as it
In Twelfth Night Shakespeare uses gender roles and cross dressing to create disguise. This creates a sense of gender ambiguity and this is what makes the audience laugh - but although it creates a sense of fun and liveliness it also examines
When Olivia declares that not even "wit nor reason"(143) can hide her passion, she suggests that she would love Cesario even if it were against logic, as a same sex couple would be. Despite the unacceptability of a same sex romance in Shakespeare's time, the hints toward this reading seem visible enough to have been thought of then as well as today. Although probably not intended to the extent of a lesbian courtship, the situation of a woman wooing another woman presents a comical picture for the audience, perhaps even more so in the Elizabethan era with two male actors wooing each other as women. Shakespeare is able to pose the question of homosexual love by using "Cesario" as a shield to protect both the characters within the play and the audience from having to deal with the question directly.
Shakespeare’s All’s Well that Ends Well does not fit neatly into the category of either tragedy or comedy. Throughout the play elements of both genres are blended. These elements include plot devices, such as the bed trick and the deception of Parolles, as well as the overall arc of the plot and the central characters. The cohabitation of these elements can cause discomfort for the audience, who are left unsure of how to react to aspects of the plot that do not fulfil their expectations of comedy.