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Conventions of Shakespearean Comedy

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Debbie Porter

on 15 September 2013

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Transcript of Conventions of Shakespearean Comedy

Conventions of Shakespearean Comedy
You need to know 'em.
4) There is frequently a philosophical aspect involving weightier issues and themes.
- personal identity
- importance of love in human existence
- power of language to help or hinder communication
- transforming power of poetry or art
- the disjunction between appearance and realtiy
3) Contains elements of the improbable, the fantastic, the supernatural or miraculous.
The Comedic Plot
A situation with tensions or implicit conflict. (Exposition)
Implicit conflict developed. (Rising Action)
Conflict reaches height. (Climax)
Things begin to clear up. (Falling Action)
Problem is resolved, knots untied. (Resolution)
Four Major Conventions
1) Main action is about love.
Comedies have several stands of action competing for the audience's attention. We are not allowed to become too involved with any of them, therefore we are kept aloof; we compare and contrast and come to our own conclusions. And because we're uncommitted and intellectually alert, we can laugh. Laughter's impossible when one is too deeply involved.
Romantic Comedy
Distinguishing feature is a love plot in which two sympathetic and well-matched lovers are united or reconciled.
However, the would-be lovers must overcome obstacles and misunderstandings before being united in harmonious union, usually a parade of couples to the alter and a festive mood or celebration.
2) The would-be lovers must overcome obstacles.
But a Shakespearean comedy isn't laughs all the way through. Some of the 'low' characters can generate some good belly laughs, but in the main action there's generally a romantic, fantastic or idealised mood which provokes 'soft smiling' rather than 'loud laughing'.
There is usually one character who introduces a darker, almost tragic note to the play. Though this character may be finally defeated or humbled, his very existence casts a shadow over a otherwise happy ending. It could be said that each play contains the potential to become its own opposite.
Overall, Shakespeare's comedies often involve:
The opposition between the old and young
Love as the motivating force
The importance of scheming, plotting, deceit, trickery
Confusion in the middle scenes
The importance of characters achieving self-knowledge
The experience of being fooled
The need to understand and change
The overcoming of differences
Marriage and the promise of new life
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