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Briefly tell me about "romantic exuberance" in the comedies of Shakespeare.

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sharief78 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted May 24, 2012 at 7:52 PM via web

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Briefly tell me about "romantic exuberance" in the comedies of Shakespeare.

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted May 25, 2012 at 4:24 PM (Answer #1)

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Shakespeare's plays, both comedies and tragedies, are rife with examples of romantic exuberance. 

A comedy that relies on romantic exuberance is A Midsummer Night's Dream. In this play, two couples (Hermia and Lysander, Helena and Demetrius) escape to the woods to avoid the dictate of Egeus, who has demanded that his daughter, Hermia, marry his choice of husband, Demetrius, rather than her choice, Lysander.

While in the woods, two immortals, Oberon and Titania, decide to get involved in the lover's affairs. A love potion is used and the misapplication of the elixir causes much romantic exuberance. 

Perhaps the funniest example occurs when Titania, affected by the powers of the potion, falls in love with Bottom, whose head has been transformed into a donkey. In confusion, Bottom begins braying. The noise wakes up the slumbering goddess but instead of being horrified, she is overcome with romantic feeling and exclaims:

I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again: 

Mine ear is much enamour'd of thy note; 

So is mine eye enthralled to thy shape; 

And thy fair virtue's force perforce doth move me 

On the first view to say, to swear, I love thee. (3.1.137-41)

It is not only comedies, however, in which Shakespeare uses romantic exuberance. In Romeo and Juliet, the two teenagers fall immediately in love. Upon laying eyes on Juliet, Romeo opines:

O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! 
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night 
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear; 
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear! (1.5.44-47)

They become intoxicated with each other and their "exuberance" leads them to go against their families' wishes and elope. Of course, their "exuberance" leads to one of literature's most famous tragedies as they both die for their love. 


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