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.
” Of course he is referring to William the conqueror and is so drunk confuses him with Richard III. The fact that this is most probably a lie in the first place accompanied by the serious tone a drunken Sly would undoubtedly apply to such a statement make this sentence quite funny and a good example of wordplay. The reason Shakespeare does not use a lot of this devise as opposed to modern sitcoms, which involve a huge amount of wordplay, is because wordplay, when at its most humorous must be quite clever and witty, two things the common people of Shakespeare’s period were most certainly not.
Maybe he thought such humour would be wasted on his audience, after all an audience member would often not be engrossed in the play as one would at a modern cinema or theatre and would most likely miss subtle wordplay anyway. Satire, however, a possible form of wordplay, is used a fair bit in Shakespeare, but again in its very nature the humour is very obvious and bold. Satire is witty language used to convey insults or scorn, seen at its best later in the play upon Pretruchio and Katherina’s first meeting, but examples are present in the start of the play.
As a matter of fact a large majority of the Inductions are a form of satire as most of what is said to Sly upon him waking up from his drunken comer is Satire. Every word spoken to him is part of a cruel insulting joke, but at the same time it is quite witty and clever statements the serving men, the lord and the like, think up on the spot in an attempt to constantly keep up the charade. An example could be when Sly bids his ‘wife’ (in this case one of the lord’s servants, a man dresses up as his wife) come to bed with him.
Of course Bartholomew must refuse, and he says this to try and convince Sly: “… For your physicians have expressly charged, In peril to incur your former malady. That I should yet absent me from your bed. ” This is not direct satire, but is should constitute a reasonable example. Where is is not direct satire it is almost certainly farcical. The whole play is altogether somewhat a farce the whole situation is quite ridiculous and one would assume such a scenario would be far too surreal to ever occur.
The Inductions embody this farcical element of the play well in the lord’s practical joke and there is a definite broad satire as I have stated in the prior paragraph. However, the farcical humour is more in the fact that the lord has devoted all his time and indeed, all his staff to a pointless trick on a drunken tinker ergo the comedy lies in the absurdness of the situation. Finally a point that is largely prominent in the Inductions and is again hinted at in Act 1, which creates a huge scope for comic possibilities, is disguise and parody.
Mistaken identity and/or the impersonation of a person or group of people is something the plot for this play is root to, most of the best comic moments in the play will be as a result of disguise and deceit. It is clear from the outset once you have read the inductions that this will be true as all of the comedy relies on the fai?? ade of Sly being this Lord, believing Bartholomew to be his wife and so on and so forth.
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 Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Taming of the Shrew section.