Pain And Comedy In Shakespeare's The Taming Of The Shrew

Shakespeare’s comedy, The Taming of the Shrew, supports Plato’s argument of comedy being a blend of pain and pleasure, as this essay will proceed to highlight. The play was written during Shakespeare’s England and would have been performed to an Elizabethan audience. This audience has different views to the themes and events of the play compared to a modern audience, which causes a variation in the amount of pain and pleasure the audience feels is included in the play- the audience would be more biased towards or against what they feel personally to be right or wrong – in keeping with cultural norms and expectations of the time. The different aspects of comedy and the structural devices used in this play show how Shakespeare has crafted pain and pleasure together. The language Shakespeare uses in this play allows him to craft and intertwine the two emotions together, along with the form of the play changing from prose to verse in certain scenes to emphasise them. As the play continues the audience definitely experiences both emotions, and Shakespeare carefully mirrors one with the other so that they are both used in an equal and balanced amount which allows the audience to see the comedy for what it is: a blend of pain and pleasure.
Shakespeare has included many aspects of comedy in The Taming of the Shrew and has incorporated both pain and pleasure into this comedic tale. The use of cruelty is the cause of some of the pain experienced in this comedy. One of the most effective uses of cruelty in the play is when Petruchio, through sleep and food depravation, forces Katherina into submission towards him. Tom from ‘goodreads’ has analysed the use of this comedic device between the couple to seem “more like torture than love” which...

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...ough the strong bond between the husband and wife, proving comedy to be a blend of pain and pleasure.
Overall, The Taming of the Shrew clearly presents both emotions of pain and pleasure, and Shakespeare has crafted the play so that both emotions are balanced throughout to great comedic effect. This is done through the use of comedic devices such as disguises, misunderstanding and cruelty. Also the structural devices and the language used between the characters prove comedy to be a blend of pain and pleasure and allow the audience to respond to the scenes with either a feeling of pain of pleasure. An audience of Shakespeare’s England would have reacted differently to how a modern audience does due to the different cultural and social conventions of the time. Nevertheless, both responses would support Plato’s argument of comedy being a blend of pain and pleasure.

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