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As You Like It is and The Taming of the Shrew Essay

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In this essay essay I will look at two of Shakespeare's comedies and ascertain if they are different types of comedy, the plays I will look at are As You Like It and Taming of the Shrew.
To begin with I believe it is important to clarify what I mean by comedy and then see if both plays conform to the conventions of a Shakespearean comedy.

In Shakespearean comedies there is generally a few principles which are similar and appear in most of his comedies for example the following all tend to be the bearings of a comedy: a struggle of young lovers to overcome difficulty, the difficulty usually being presented by the elders in the play, a witty servant, mistaken identity/deception , multiple intertwining plots, a pastoral element and last of all they usually finish with a happy ending1. Hence it could be seen as ritual comedy, however I do not think that all the conventions are mutually exclusive, as what classes as comedy is quite a broad range of ideas. Many different critics define comedy differently, Samuel Johnson in his 1755 Dictionary defines comedy as “a dramatick representation of the lighter faults of mankind” and Sir Philip Sidney in An Apologie for Poetrie (1595) claims that “delightful teaching is the aim of comedy” this also fits in with the idea that comedy is a moralising form it teaches us morals. C.L Barber related comedy to to pre-modern community festive rituals2 which fits in with Thomas Hobbes definition of laughter as an expression of superiority, a feeling of sudden glory arising from some sudden conception of some eminency in ourselves by comparison with infirmity of others, by experiencing the the humiliation of being laughed at , so the idea goes is that the victim is led to recognise his or her soc...


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...hen hidden behind different persona's, they also address gender constraints and have assertive women almost directing the flow of the play. There obviously is a difference in the sense that Taming of the Shrew is a farcical play and As You Like It contains more pastoral literary elements to it, however in essence at the core of both plays they follow the same ritualistic plot men and women meet, court and then marry.












Works Cited



Hattaway, Michael (ED.), The New Cambridge Shakespeare-As You Like It, (Cambridge University Press, 2000).

Leggatt, Alexander (ED.), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Comedy, ( Cambridge University Press, 2002).

Thompson, Ann (ED.), The New Cambridge Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, (Cambridge University Press, 1984).

Waller, Gary (ed.), Shakespeare's Comedies, (Longman Group Ltd, 1991).



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