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Features of Shakespearean Comedies and Tragedies

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Anahat Virk

on 25 October 2012

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Transcript of Features of Shakespearean Comedies and Tragedies

A bit of background... Shakespeare's life is commonly
divided into four periods. Tragedies Features of Shakespearean Thank You! Comedy and Tragedy In the first period he wrote his more imaginative and youthful works. The fourth period is when he wrote his most famous tragedies. Two comedies from this period are: 'The Comedy of Errors' and 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. These include Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello and King Lear. Shakespeare's tragedies followed a specific definition of tragedy: There must be a noble hero with a tragic flaw and that flaw leads to his downfall. Characteristic #1 : In every Shakespearean tragedy, there is a noble hero. This person is the main character in the story and the center of most of the action that takes place. The noble hero can be thought of as the protagonist in the story. The Tragic Flaw All of Shakespeare's noble heroes have one thing in common: they all have one or more tragic flaws. The tragic flaw is also called the hamartia. For example, King Lear's tragic flaw is he gives property to his daughters. Hamlet's tragic flaw was his delay to take action (procrastination). Characteristic #2: This tragic flaw is what leads to the
downfall (usually death) of the noble hero. Supernatural Elements In Shakespeare's time there was a strong
belief in the existence of supernatural forces, such as witches, sorcerers, fairies, ghosts, spirits etc. Because of this strong belief, Shakespeare often incorporated supernatural elements in his plays. These supernatural elements usually play a big role in Shakespeare's stories. They contribute to the downfall of the protagonist - but do not directly cause it. They are just a catalyst for the outcome. These supernatural elements are not just creations of the hero's mind, but actual forces acting in the play. Other people would also be able to see or feel these elements. For example, a supernatural element in Hamlet is Hamlet's father's ghost. The conversation between Hamlet and his father's ghost provided a start for Hamlet's actions later on, but did not create the actions themselves. Characteristic #3: Death In all of Shakespeare's tragedies, the
main character (the noble hero) dies. Comedies Even though Shakespeare could be pretty tragic and depressing, his comedies are light-hearted and quite funny. Our modern idea of humor and the idea of humor in Shakespeare's time are different, however, his comedies continue to entertain and amuse audiences around the world. Characteristic #1 Mistaken Identities Often you will find that in Shakespeare's work,
people are mistaken as someone they are not. This could be because of mixed-up twins, clever disguises or gender mix-ups (females disguise themselves as men). For example, in 'As You Like It' best friends Rosalind and Celia disguise themselves to hide in the Forest of Ardenne. Rosalind dresses up as a young man named Ganymede and Celia disguises herself as a shepherdress called Aliena. Rosalind's gender mix-up makes for some very funny scenes because she meets Orlando, her lover, in the forest and has to keep up her disguise as a man. These mix-ups were even funnier in Shakespeare's time when they were acted on stage and men had to play all the women's roles. Characteristic #2: Complex plots Shakespeare's comedies usually involve several plots combined into one. There are stories of many different people, which intertwine in a comedic way. One of the funniest things Shakespeare did throughout his comedies, is include several plot twists to keep the audience guessing and surprise them often. In the end, the complex plot is
straightened out and everyone is happy :) Characteristic #3: Use of puns He often used puns - a play on words - and word games in his plays. Shakespeare loved to use wordplay in his work. At that time, most people understood the puns, but for us they can be quite difficult to understand. Characteristic #4: Happy Endings Although in his tragedies the hero dies, Shakespeare's comedies always have happy endings. In the end of Shakespearean comedies, love prevails. The story usually ends with characters getting married or the declaration of a marriage to happen soon. Characteristic #5: Insults! Although they don't really sound like insults, in his day they were quite harsh! Shakespeare often used some very interesting insults in his work. http://www.pangloss.com/seidel/shake_rule.html Here's how to make your own!: Some examples of insults Shakespeare could use: "Thou reeky half-faced pigeon -egg!" "Thou dankish spur-galled foot-licker!" "Thou frothy swag-bellied malt-worm!" Bibliography:
Characteristics of Tragedies
Characteristics of Tragedies
Characteristics of Tragedies
Characteristics of Tragedies
Timeline of Shakespeare's Life and Works
Timeline of Shakespeare's Life and Works
Characteristics of Comedies
Characteristics of Comedies and Tragedies
Supernatural Elements in Shakespearean plays
Shakespearean Insults
Characteristics of Comedies
Mistaken Identities in 'As You Like It'
Example of Puns The Tragicomedy This is a subgenre of Shakespeare's comedies. A tragicomedy is a play with a serious plot line but a happy ending. His most famous comedies and tragedies are from the first and fourth periods. Antony and Cleopatra Hamlet Othello Romeo and Juliet King Lear His puns were sometime silly, sometimes funny, but always clever. For example, here is one of his puns from 'Much Ado About Nothing': Beatrice: “The count is neither sad, nor sick, nor merry, nor well: but civil, count; civil as an orange, and something of that jealous complexion.” This pun is considered clever because of Shakespeare's clever use of 'orange'. Beatrice is describing Claudio by saying he is 'civil as an orange'. This is funny because there is a bitter type of orange that comes from Spain. Shakespeare's 'A Winter's Tale' is considered a tragicomedy because it has a tragic climax, but ends happily. An example of this would be Rosalind meeting Orlando in the Forest of Ardenne and having to keep up her disguise.
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