What makes a Shakespeare comedy identifiable if the genre is not distinct from the Shakespeare tragedies and histories?
This is an ongoing area of debate, but many believe that the comedies share certain characteristics, as described below:
Comedy through language: Shakespeare communicated his comedy through language and his comedy plays are peppered with clever word play, metaphors and insults.
- Act 1- scene 1 Shipwreck
- Act 2- Conversation between Caliban and Prospero
Love: The theme of love is prevalent in every Shakespeare comedy. Often, we are presented with sets of lovers who, through the course of the play, overcome the obstacles in their relationship and unite.
Complex plots: The plot line of a Shakespeare comedy contains more twists and turns than his tragedies and histories. Although the plots are convoluted, they do follow similar patterns. For example, the climax of the play always occurs in the third act and the final scene has a celebratory feel when the lovers finally declare their love for each other.
Mistaken identities: The plot is often driven by mistaken identity. Sometimes this is an intentional part of a villain’s plot, as in Much Ado About Nothing when Don John tricks Claudio into believing that his fiancé has been unfaithful through mistaken identity.
Characters also play scenes in disguise and it is not uncommon for female characters to disguise themselves as male characters.