Shakespeare And Comedy
Comedy was at the centre of a fierce controversy that raged from the opening of the first purpose-built playhouse in 1576 to the closure of the theatres in 1742. Shakespeare's plays made capital of this controversy. In them he repeatedly invokes the case made against comedy by the theatre-haters: that it perverts the young and incites the old to gross political and social misconduct. His plays are filled with jokes that go too far, laughter that hurts its victims, wordplay that turns to swordplay, and acts of comic rebellion and revenge that threaten destruction to individuals, families and even states. His comedy is unsettling, and this is part of what makes it pleasurable.Shakespeare and Comedy traces Shakespeare's exploration of the precarious status of the comic and the question of comic timing through close examination of eleven of his plays. This illuminating study succeeds in recapturing the sense of danger as well as delight that attached itself to theatrical laughter in Shakespeare's lifetime.
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