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What would an Elizabethan audience find comic and what would a modern audience?

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Introduction

What would an Elizabethan audience find comic and what would a modern audience? Throughout the play, Shakespeare uses many comical devices to explore the ideas of love and marriage, and an Elizabethan and a modern audience would respond differently to certain elements of the play. The main difference between the two audiences, is the view of women and this will be explored and addressed. The induction scene provides the first dose of humour and acts as the framing device for the rest of the play. This introduces us to Christopher Sly a tinker being thrown out of the ale house by the Hostess. This would be comic for the modern day audience seeing this drunken man acting ridiculously. This would also be amusing to the Elizabethan audience, as it would be strange for them seeing a woman exert power over a man as this was not the usual practice in those times. In Act one Scene two Petruchio talks to Gremio and explains he has no fears about Katherina. ...read more.

Middle

The women may empathise with Kate and admire her for expressing herself in such a male dominated society. They may however feel stunned by Kate's reaction as this was not practice in the Elizabethan times and a woman would not think of committing such an action. The way in which Petruchio reacts to this farcical event creates comedy itself. He states: "Now, by the world, it is a lusty wench. I love her ten times more than e'er I did." This is comical as Petruchio is attracted to her vigour, and this is what people disliked about her in the beginning. One of the main themes of the play is disguise and this creates a lot of comedy in the play. In the induction scene Christopher Sly is made to believe that he is not a tinker but in fact a "mighty Lord" and that he has been mad for fifteen years. This role reversal creates an illusion and is comical for both a modern and Elizabethan audience, as we can see Sly trying to come to terms with his identity. ...read more.

Conclusion

"Whose tongue? Yours if you talk of tales and so farewell What with my tongue in your tail? Nay come again, Good Kate. I am a gentleman-" The wedding scene is highly farcical as Shakespeare uses visual comedy. Petruchio arrives for the wedding dressed ridiculously. The passage contains a lot of alliteration thus exaggerating the idea and making it more comical: "An old jerkin; an old pair of breeches" Shakespeare uses irony here as Petruchio doesn't conform to society's idealistic bridegroom and the method of transport he uses, his behaviour in the church and refusal to stay for the feast create a hilarious scene for both audiences. However some people from the Elizabethan audience may not find this amusing as they may think that it is ridiculous to turn up in such clothes on a wedding day and no respected person would do that. The differences between a modern society encouraging gender equality and a male governed Elizabethan society would cause there to be some difference in reaction to the comical elements of the play. However overall both audiences would find humour throughout Petruchio's attempts to tame Katherina and throughout the rest of the play. ...read more.

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