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Two of my favorite comedies are "Much Ado About nothing" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream." In the comedies, confusion abonds, misunderstandings are commonplace, and lover's are parted. However, everything works out in the end, to all the characters' satisfaction. Key feature of the comedies are also word play, insults, and punning. For example, in "Midsummer," critic Barbara Mowat explains Helena's punning. Helena says,
For, ere Demetrius looked on Hermia’s eyne,
He hailed down oaths that he was only mine;
And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,
So he dissolved, and show’rs of oaths did melt—
Mowat explain that "the first use of the word hail means “to shower down, to pour,” but, since it sounds exactly like the verb hale, it also carries the sense of “pull down,” as if the oaths were being tugged down from the sky. The second use of the word hail, in the following line, is as a noun, and Demetrius’s oaths are given the characteristics of hail: they feel heat, dissolve, and melt. This shift from hail/hale as a verb to hail as a noun is an interestingly complex pun."
Tragedies include "Hamlet" and "Julius Caesar." The tragedies revolve around treachery, lying, and basically man's inhumaity to man. Caeasr's famious line, "Et tu, Brutus?" encapsulates the theme of most of the tradedies; that is, someone who has been trusted (in "Hamlet" it is Hamlet's mother and his uncle, Claudius) betrays someone who takes a fall.
Hsitories include "Henry V" and "Richard III". Each of the histories reconstructs events that actually occurred in England. Richard III, for example, truly did suffer from a birth defect that left him disfigured.
Romances, of which there are four, include "The Winter's Tale" and "The Tempest." These plays do not contain the insults and verbal sparring that the comedies feature, but like the comedies, romances end well.
I generally break them up into three genres.
All's Well That Ends Well
As You Like It
Comedy of Errors
Love's Labour's Lost
Measure for Measure
Merchant of Venice
Merry Wives of Windsor
Midsummer Night's Dream
Much Ado about Nothing
Taming of the Shrew
Two Gentlemen of Verona
Henry IV, Part I
Henry IV, Part II
Henry VI, Part I
Henry VI, Part II
Henry VI, Part III
Antony and Cleopatra
Romeo and Juliet
Timon of Athens
Troilus and Cressida
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