Nature of Shakespearean Comedy

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THE NATURE OF SHAKESPEAREAN COMEDY M.H. Abrams defined ‘comedy’ as ‘ a work in which materials are selected and managed primarily in order to interest, involve, and amuse us: the characters and their discomfitures engage our delighted attention rather than our profound concern. We feel confident that no great disaster will occur, and usually the action turns out happily for the chief characters. Abrams specifies several different types of comedy ‘within the broad spectrum of dramatic comedy’, including romantic comedy, satiric comedy, the comedy of manners, farce and ‘high’ and ‘low’ comedy. Much comedy, however- and this is particularly true of English works as opposed to the more genre-conscious productions of classical and French…show more content…
To reach that end, to be a satisfying, as well as a satisfied, partner of Rosalind, Orlando needs to undergo an education- not the kind that he feels Oliver has deprived him of, for, after his unmannerly intrusion on Duke Senior and the exiled lords in 2,7, he quickly shows them he is ‘ inland bred’, that he is gentle by nature as well as by birth. His education is to be, like that of Silvius, Phoebe, Touchstone, Audrey, and Rosalind herself, concerned with love. His desire to carve Rosalind’s name on evertree is in fine romantic epic and pastoral style. However his verses are ridiculed with bawdy parody by Touchstone, his romantic description of his beloved gets a lewd response from Jacques, and Ganymede makes rude puns to him about cuckoldry; he is unaware of the first, his romantic idealism is proof against the second, but he is able to respond to the third, even if he loses the wit-combat. He takes on Ganymede’s offer of being cured not because he wants to be cured of his love for Rosalind, but because he ‘would be talking to her’ (4.1.82-3). His romantic attitude is tempered only a little by his banter with Ganymede; his idea of marriage is for its lasting ‘for ever and a day’, and he finds Ganymede’s description of wifely behavior unlikely to apply to Rosalind. Extreme though this description is, it contains genuine
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