Essay PreviewMore ↓
Shakespeare’s theatrical works are generally categorized into three all encompassing groups: the uplifting comedy, the lamented tragedy, and the excruciatingly boring history play. However, things can get a little confusing when you end up with a comedy like Measure for Measure or a tragedy like Titus Andronicus. Often we find that many of Shakespeare’s plays do not fit into their ascribed categories, but is it the plays that don’t fit the categories, or the reverse? Are the general groupings of comedy and tragedy really applicable to Shakespeare?
Society generally defines a comedy as a piece a theatre with some good laughs, a problem posed, and a fabulous resolution, after which everyone lives pretty much happily ever after. We run into problems, though, when we try labeling a large group of Shakespearean plays as such. Few of his “comedies” have pretty, tidy little endings, and even fewer are devastatingly funny. Measure for Measure, for example, finishes off with men dying and a would-be nun possibly betrothed to a man she cares nothing about. Though there are some jokes, they’re few and far between. In fact, it would seem that Measure for Measure in today’s terms would be a kind of soap opera on a Friday afternoon: no one knows what will happen, but it sure won’t be good.
The links between Shakespearean “comedies” are rather tenuous. There always seems to be some sort of problem which arises, threatening the lives or the happiness of the central characters. Usually, these central characters are one or more romantically inclined couples who are a little unfamiliar with the ways of the world. Many mishaps occur, plans go awry, and in the end a solution is formed to cope with the characters’ problems. However, this solution tends to bring up different problems for the characters to deal with after the curtain closes. These “comedic” solutions also tend not to end with too many people disemboweled, a trend that is seen in another grouping of Shakespearean works: the tragedies.
In contemporary theatre, a tragedy generally includes death and destruction, a romance gone horribly wrong, the hero or heroine’s total collapse, or any combination thereof. It puts the audience in a depressed, angry, or at least contemplative mood. In some ways, the Shakespearean tragedy does fit this mold: there is almost always an excess of dead people, and you can usually be sure you won’t laugh the theatre laughing.
How to Cite this Page
"Difficulty Distinguishing Between Comedy and Tragedy in Shakespeare's Plays." 123HelpMe.com. 22 Nov 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Linda Bamber differentiates between Shakespeare’s treatment of women in comedy and tragedy. In tragedy his women are strong because they are coherent – ‘certainly none of the women in the tragedies worries or changes her mind about who she is’ – and the attacks which are made on them are the product of male resentment at this strength – ‘misogyny and sex nausea are born of failure and self doubt’ . The comic feminine on the other hand, is opposed not to men but to a reified ‘society’: ‘In comedy the feminine either rebels against the restraining social order or (more commonly) presides in alliance with the forces which challenge its hegemony: romantic love, physical nature, the love of pleas... [tags: gender issues]
1130 words (3.2 pages)
- Tragedy, irony and modernism are only a few interpretations of the valued play The Taming of the Shrew by the respected writer William Shakespeare. However, one of the most intriguing and popular of these analyses is comedy. Shakespeare is recognized for writing several plays with comedic genres, a few of which include Much Ado About Nothing and The Comedy of Errors. Comedy, being a complex genre, is composed of many different concepts. This particular play can be interpreted as a Shakespearian comedy, a screwball comedy, a farce, or slapstick.... [tags: William Shakespeare plays]
1347 words (3.8 pages)
- Background intro Attributes of comedy and tragedy blend into a new form of drama – tragicomedy. Not to be confused with black comedy or dark humor, tragicomedy is not a “parody of tragedy”(Roche) Tragicomedy, according to Karl Guthke, is “an ambiguous work that integrates tragic and comic moments simultaneously and in tension with one another.” (Roche) While other sources consider tragicomedy as a “loose mix of succeeding moments of tragic and comedic moments.”(Roche) Nonetheless, the definition of what a tragicomedy is lies in the literary elements of tragedy and comedy elements and how both draw in complexity of human emotions and actions.... [tags: trigicomedy, black comedy, hubris]
1756 words (5 pages)
- Theater is a natural outlet for our desire to hear and tell stories, and in some ways it is even more primal and powerful than the written word. At its worst, theater will merely bore; while at its best it will not only entertain but move and shape its audience. Two such genres of theater, or drama, have consistently achieved this effect. Tragedy, represented by the weeping actors’ mask, usually features the title character’s fall from greatness to ruin, guided by the gods or fate. Oedipus Rex, written by Sophocles, is the epitome of classic Tragedy, as defined by Aristotle (96-101).... [tags: Literary Analysis ]
1264 words (3.6 pages)
- Watched by grandparents, known by parents, but quickly fleeting in the minds of young ones, Charlie Chaplin is the original “tramp.” From films such as The Kid or The Circus, Chaplin is the face of silent films. His unique combination of comedy and tragedy is a modern reformation of Shakespeare’s style. Many would agree that Charlie Chaplin is the Shakespeare of silent films. From rags to riches to exile, Chaplin is a timeless comedian and will always be remembered as the “tramp.” People look at a famous figure like Chaplin and imagine a glamorous life with everything at their disposal, but the last thing people would imagine is a childhood full of suffering and poverty.... [tags: Literary Analysis, Charlie Chaplin]
1474 words (4.2 pages)
- There is not one person in this world who has the exact same preferences as another person. Everyone has their own unique style, which creates the need for a wider variety of genres. In the Elizabethan Ear, one of the world’s greatest poets emerged. His sonnets, stories, plays were written in such varieties that appealed to the masses, even in today’s society. Of all his works, the most popular styles were comedies and tragedies. These polar opposites appealed to many because of the way they brought the story to life.... [tags: Theater]
888 words (2.5 pages)
- Compare and Contrast Comedy and Tragedy In a comparison of comedy and tragedy, I will begin by looking at narrative. The narration in a comedy often involves union and togetherness as we see in the marriage scene at the end of Midsummer's Night Dream. William Hazlitt tells us that one can also expect incongruities, misunderstandings, and contradictions. I am reminded of the play The Importance of Being Ernest and the humor by way of mistaken identity. Sigmund Freud tells us to expect excess and exaggeration in comedy.... [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
902 words (2.6 pages)
- Compare and Contrast Tragedy and Comedy A tragedy is defined as beginning with a problem that affects everyone, i.e. the whole town or all the characters involved, the tragic hero must solve this problem and this results in his banishment or death [run-on sentence]. A comedy is defined as also beginning with a problem, but one of less significant importance. The characters try to solve the problem and the story ends with all the characters uniting in either a marriage of a party. Although these two genres are seen as being complete opposites of each other, through further analysis one can gather that though they are different certain similarities can also be seen.... [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
1019 words (2.9 pages)
- Comedy According to Aristotle (who speculates on the matter in his Poetics), ancient comedy originated with the komos, a curious and improbable spectacle in which a company of festive males apparently sang, danced, and cavorted rollickingly around the image of a large phallus. (If this theory is true, by the way, it gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "stand-up routine.") Accurate or not, the linking of the origins of comedy to some sort of phallic ritual or festival of mirth seems both plausible and appropriate, since for most of its history--from Aristophanes to Seinfeld--comedy has involved a high-spirited celebration of human sexuality and the triumph of eros.... [tags: Free Essays]
431 words (1.2 pages)
- Overview This is a research paper of at least 1000 words that examines a play or playwright that we have studied in class. Outcomes 1) Students will gain a deeper understanding of a particular area of dramatic literature. 2) Students will develop their writing skills through the completion of multiple drafts. 3) Students will develop their ability at conducting effective and ethical research. Submission of Emails All material must be submitted through email attachments, using the following format.... [tags: essays research papers fc]
551 words (1.6 pages)
- Lovers of Messina in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing
- Biography of William Shakespeare
- Creative Viewing and Perception in Shakespeare's Hamlet
- Blindness of Love in Twelfth Night by Shakespeare
- Brutus is not all Nobility and Caesar is not all Ambition in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar
- Trickery and Deceit in Shakespeare's Works
Still there is some trouble in grouping all of Shakespeare’s “tragedies” under that title. In general, the tragedy evokes a feeling of great loss – bad things happening to good people, a fallen hero. Yet in several of Shakespeare’s “tragedies”, bad things only happen to the bad people. Titus for one, is a play of continuous blood and gore, with leading characters falling one after the other. The problem is, the audience never really cares that all these people are keeling over because they’re all pretty horrible people. Titus kills his own son, Tamora is an evil wench, Aaron is pure evil and Saturninus is a pompous ass; in fact, the only survivors of the play, Marcus and Lucius, are the only non-despicable characters. What’s so tragic about contemptible people dying?
Shakespeare’s tragedies are easier to sort than are his comedies: if it’s got an excess of body parts and blood, nine times out of ten it’s going to be a tragedy. However, the greater underlying problem of his comedy and tragedy is that the titles simply don’t fit the plays they’re meant for by today’s standards. People today believe that a comedy is funny, a tragedy is sad: these rules simply don’t hold true for Shakespeare’s works.