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How do the Inductions and Act 1 Prepare Us for Comedy?

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How do the Inductions and Act 1 Prepare Us for Comedy? In the last 400 years peoples sense of humour and what makes us laugh has changed dramatically, so too have our attitudes to humour and what we find acceptable to laugh at. Comedy, however, is always easily recognisable as good humour and most of what has been written to make people amused in the past is relevant and distinguishable as comedy today. It is the medium through which society's sense of humour has been established down the centuries, the ways in which it is projected to the masses and the different guises it takes are ever changing. Since the early days of Chaucer and Shakespeare, comedy as a whole has been broken down and has now evolved, once simple 'elements' of comedy have now branched out into different facets of the genre: dark comedy, farce, parody etc. this is a result of writers constantly trying to find new ways of making us laugh. The Shakespearean comedies are thought by some to be the birth of modern comedy as they utilised the fundamentals of many comic aspects we associate with the genre today and elements such as word play, slap stick, satire and the like are all present in his comic plays. In order to define the genre of a Shakespeare play such as 'Taming of the Shrew' from the outset (my objective in this essay), we must understand the difference between a Shakespearean or indeed Elizabethan, comedy, tragedy or history - the three main genres of the time. ...read more.


The humour for a comedy such as this in its very essence must be very 'in your face' and over the top, which complements fantastically the melodramatic and exaggerated acting style of Shakespeare's period. Elizabethan audiences demanded simple, sustainable humour, which is why at the start of 'The Taming of the Shrew' you really get a feel for the comedy. This play, along with a lot of other comedies has massive scope for Slapstick. Although very little of this is stated in the play a Shakespeare comedy almost implies slapstick in the boisterous, energetic and clear cut way they are written. As well as this, the comedic acting style of the period almost demands slapstick and so it is up to the director weather or not this form of physical comedy is used in the play. A Shakespeare comedy does not typically employ wordplay and the use of amusing language as the main aspect of comedy, which may seem strange to the modern reader as most modern comedies do. This devise is used in his plays, but examples are few and far between and often difficult to find or interpret even when they are present because of the language used. A good example is provided by Sly, when profoundly drunk he blurts this at the hostess at the opening of the play in an attempt to convince her of his family's origin: "Look in the Chronicles; we came in with Richard Conqueror." ...read more.


Then when you reach the end of Act 1 you are certain that the change and creation of all these peoples identities is going to have cataclysmic comic repercussions as characters being talk frankly to people they think they don't know or involve the wrong person in a situation believing them to be the write person, etcetera. The audience will watch as the situation gets delightfully worse for certain characters, bringing out the 'cringe making factor' which has made modern comedies such as 'Only Fools and Horses' and 'Mr Bean' so successful, where we watch everything go sublimely wrong for certain characters. After all, the human race always takes delight at the cost of others. To summarise, I think that that start of the play does indeed prepares us well for an onslaught of comedy through out the rest of the play and after careful analysis we can hazard pretty good guesses as to what comedy we are likely to expect in the rest of the play. I feel I may not have covered everything I could have in my essay, but I also feel the boundaries of comedy a limitless therefore I could go through the text for months identifying possible comedy as everyone's sense of humour and idea of comedy is slightly different. I think the relevant points are present in my essay and all in all I hope I have shown a competent understanding of the play and a Shakespeare comedy. Tom Savage ...read more.

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