5. Shakespeare and comic form
- Stanley Wells
Nearly half of Shakespeare’s plays, extending throughout his career, are written in comic form though they play a wide range of variations on it. ‘Shakespeare and comic form’ describes the five earliest as the lightest in tone, but in the five that follow, Shakespeare introduces an antagonist who must be expelled before the play can end happily. The later comedies were written for the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. The plays considered are The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Taming of the Shrew, The Comedy of Errors, Love’s Labour’s Lost, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night.