Who is Shakespeare's greatest comic character?

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Shakespeare's comedies (and some of his tragedies) feature an array of clowns and fools. Indeed, in some of the thinly plotted comedies, As You Like It for example, comic characters like Touchstone and the over-melancholy Jaques carry the show as producers of and targets of the audience's amusement. Bottom (who is magically given the head of a donkey) and his crew of crude tradesmen in a Midsummer Night's Dream deserve a collective mention for their "Pyramus and Thisbe" play-within-a-play. For Shakespeare's audiences, it was probably the figure of Sir John Falstaff who got the biggest laughs as the braggart but cowardly soldier and drunken, scheming companion of Hal's tavern world in Henry IV: Parts 1 and 2. The speculation here is that Falstaff was so appealing to Elizabethan theater-goers that although he dies at the end of Henry IV: Part 2 Shakespeare resurrected him in his next play, The Merry Wives of Windsor owing to Falstaff's popularity.

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