Alliance of Seriousness and Levity in As You Like It
(From Shakespeare's Festive Comedy by Cesar Lombardi Barber. © 1980 Princeton University Press. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.)
In a true piece of Wit all things must be,
Yet all things there agree.
—Cowley, quoted by T. S. Eliot in "Andrew Marvell."
Then is there mirth in heaven,
When earthly things made even
—As You Like It
SHAKESPEARE's next venture in comedy after The Merchant of Venice was probably in the Henry IV plays, which were probably written in 1597-98. Thus the Falstaff comedy comes right in the middle of the period, from about 1594 to 1600 or 1601, when Shakespeare produced festive comedy. Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night were written at the close of the period, Twelfth Night perhaps after Hamlet. The Merry Wives of Windsor, where Shakespeare's creative powers were less fully engaged, was produced sometime between 1598 and 1602, and it is not impossible that All's Well That Ends Well and even perhaps Measure for...
(The entire section is 586 words.)