Comedy in Shakespeare’s Works
Comedy in Shakespeare’s Works

One of the greatest playwrights in the whole history of English Literature is William Shakespeare. His available works consists of 38 plays, 2 lengthy narrative poems, and 154 sonnets along with some other verses. He had created masterpieces in both tragedies and comedies.  However, the word comedy had quite a different meaning during the Elizabethan age than that of the modern definition. It is noteworthy that each and every of his play whether comedy or tragedy had some form of comic relief in the form of fools or jesters.

The fools and jesters were of two categories, one of them was obtuse in their words and actions delivering a blunt performance determined for relatively cheap humor. One of the classic examples of such character is Lancelot from the play ‘The Merchant of Venice’. The other category of jesters provided comic relief during the course of the play with their witty remarks and portrayed some form of intelligence that brought in the essence of comedy on a basic intellectual level. The greatest example is Touchstone from ‘As You like It’.

As with the plays that were categorized to be comedies, they had some specific features. The most important feature was it should have a happy ending. The Shakespearean comedies usually portrayed overcoming of various difficulties endured by the different characters towards achieving a happily-ever-after. The difficulties were varied like young lover’s struggle, separation followed by re-unification, dispute, mistaken identity and many more. Another key feature included the depiction of misery in a comic sense to ensure laughter.