View Full Version : What did Shakespeare aim at when he wrote his Comedies?

04-30-2008, 03:39 PM
So I've been studying Shakespeare's comedies this semester. I studied The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night and As You Like It (cross-reference).
I've never read his comedies before this course, and to tell you the truth, it wasn't at all Shakespeare. I mean, after studying a play like Julius Caesar last year, and reading Macbeth and King Lear, it's pretty strange to read these comedies.
I don't believe that Shakespeare aimed at anything other than pleasing the audience. There's nothing to be learned from them. And I don't even believe that the 'universal characters' idea applies to them.
I'm not sure how many of you will agree with me, but I'm open to your opinions :D Actually, your opinions will probably help me more with my studying :D

05-18-2008, 03:58 AM
I don't believe that Shakespeare aimed at anything other than pleasing the audience. There's nothing to be learned from them. :D

Shakespeare's aim was always to entertain, in tragedy, comedy, history, and romance; it was the way he made his living. If he hadn't entertained his audience day in and out he would have been out of business in short order.

06-10-2008, 03:45 PM
I'm studying the comedies this summer too. Our professor keeps on emphasizing that many of his comedies teeter between comedy and tragedy. The main difference is that in comedies the are able to overcome the obstacle before them and in tradgedies they cannot overcome their obstacles. The fact that that a fine line exists shows that you can find just the same amout of value in the comedies as in the tragedies. Furthermore, we've discussed all kind of social themes found in these plays from deception in Much Ado about nothing ( Which is compared to Othello) to profemisism, semitism, patriarchal oppression and more.

06-10-2008, 03:52 PM
It depends how you approach the comedies. If you approach them the same way as you do Lear, then you probably won't be satisfied, if you approach them from other angles however... As You Like It has as profound passages as Hamlet.

Charles Darnay
06-10-2008, 04:07 PM
I think all his plays aim to do something - tragedy, comedy, history - doesn't matter.

I'll use As You Like It as an example because I am most familiar with that one out of the three. It has many profound messages - about the problems of courtly life, about the problems of love and gender roles.

Don't let the title comedy fool you into thinking it's meant for pure entertainment. Most people would not think of Merchant of Venice as a comedy - that has many profound messages. Measure for Measure is all about the corrupt political system (a potential warning for the newly instated King James VI/I), it is a comedy. The Tempest shows the horror that is colonization - that is a comedy.