Shakespeare's Comedies

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Cliffs Notes, 1999 - Study Aids - 585 pages
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Finally! Summaries and Commentaries for All of Shakespeare's comedies are available in one easy-to-access volume.
  • The Comedy of Errors, probably Shakespeare's earliest work, features a plot both romantic and melodramatic, juggling mistaken identities and the confusion of twins.
  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona is peppered with mercurial motivations and bittersweet romance, playfully laced with comic resolution.
  • Love's Labour's Lost, one of Shakespeare's most original plots, uses irony and satire to gently mock young lovers, inviting us to laugh at our own youthful follies.
  • A Midsummer-Night's Dream features fairies playing magical havoc with woeful lovers until all is resolved with wedding celebrations and broad comic entertainment by rustic, well-meaning bumpkins.
  • The Merchant of Venice, more serious than comedic, investigates various attitudes toward money and wealth.
  • The Taming of the Shrew, relying heavily on physical appearance and visual effect, uses mistaken identities, puns, and a play-within-a-play. Whether the "shrew" is actually transformed through a cunning use of psychology is still debatable.
  • Much Ado About Nothing, a witty battle of the sexes, in more earthy and naturalistic language than some of Shakespeare's other romantic comedies, concludes with dancing and a celebration of blissful, wedded love.
  • As You Like It contains the evergreen Forest of Arden, ripe for satiric caricaturing of shepherds, philosophers, and the dreaded curse of banishment.
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor, one of Shakespeare's most frivolous stage offerings, gives a delightful glimpse of the England of his own time and features the amoral Sir John Falstaff, one of the playwright's comedic masterpieces.
  • Twelfth Night revolves around twins, separated by a shipwreck, and the irrationality of young lovers, a favorite theme of Shakespeare; the comic subplot, poking fun at gloomy conservative types, adds welcome panache.
  • Troilus and Cressida, usually labeled a tragicomedy because of its theme of moral corruption and disintegration, contains comedy that is more wry than bawdy or clever.
  • All's Well That Ends Well, like Shakespeare's other dark comedies, treats in typical fashion the standard romantic theme of love triumphant.
  • Measure for Measure uses disguise and comedy to lighten the theme of moral decay.
  • Pericles represents Shakespeare's unique blend of comedy and tragedy.
  • Cymbeline showcases a panorama of popular romantic motifs and themes.
  • The Winter's Tale, one of Shakespeare's more naturalistic pieces, is rich and romantic and concludes with marriage and the promise of happiness.
  • The Tempest is a visual feast of magic and theatrical spectacle, emphasizing resolution after deception. It is commonly believed to be the last play that Shakespeare wrote.

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About the author (1999)

Tracey Longo has 15 years of journalism experience, specializing in personal finance and money management topics. She covers personal finance issues for national publications including The Washington Post and Investor's Business Daily, and her work has been regularly syndicated by The New York Times.

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