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“A sad tale’s best for winter. What then is the value of the comic elements of The Winter’s Tale?”
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Shakespeare: The Winter's Tale
"A sad tale's best for winter. What then is the value of the comic elements of The Winter's Tale?"
The Winter's Tale is a play of extremes of character, mood and genre, the play therefore cannot easily be categorised. As a result, in considering a question such as this we must be conscious of the fact that we are measuring the comic elements' relative value against, for example, the tragic or romantic sides of the play. The comedy must therefore be gauged in the context of the piece as a whole. Contextually, comedy was of course very important in contemporary live performance as it is today on stage. It is often easy to forget that a playwright can and will blend genres, a technique that modern critics will often explain away as a method to increase tension. For example, it has been said that the comedy of the drunken porter in Macbeth does not vitiate but rather increases the tragic momentum.1 These sorts of effect are undoubtedly achieved; this fact does not however diminish the spontaneous comic value of a moment in a live performance. The term 'tragicomedy' has been has been employed to
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