Shakespeare’s Comedy vs. Tragedy
respectively. Both plays could have also easily been tragedy or comedy with a
plays is useful to find how Shakespeare uses similar character types in a variety
of plays, and the versatility of the themes which he uses.
In “Romeo and Juliet”, Juliet is young, “not yet fourteen”, and she is beautiful, and
Romeo’s reaction after he sees her is,
“O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
As a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear
Juliet is also prudent, “Although I joy in thee, I have no joy in this contract
tonight. It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden.” She feels that because they
have just met, they should abstain from sexual intercourse.
Hermia is also young, and prudent. When Lysander suggests that “One turf shall
serve as a pillow for both of us, One heart, one bed, two bosoms, and one
was spoken), Hermia also abstains from even sleeping near Lysander even
though she believes he does not have impure intentions.
Romeo’s and Juliet’s families are feuding. Because of these feuds, their own
“Full of vexation come I, with complaint
Against my child, my daughter Hermia.
Stand fourth, Demetrius. My noble lord,
This man hath my consent to marry her.
Stand forth, Lysander. And, my gracious Duke,
This man hath bewitched the bosom of my child.”
Egeus tells the Duke that his daughter can marry Demetrius, not Lysander.
Hermia replies “. . . If I refuse to wed Demetrius,” Egeus replies “Either to die the
father’s wishes, and weds Lysander, she will either be put to death, or be forced
to become a nun.
Both pairs of lovers also seek help from another. Juliet and Romeo seek Friar
Lawrence, and Lysander and Hermia seek Lysander’s aunt, who lives in the
mentioned a love before Hermia. Romeo loved Rosaline, before he loved Juliet.
Hermia’s family and Lysander’s family were not feuding, whereas the Montagues’
and Capulets’ feude was central to the plot of the play.
The stories of “Romeo and Juliet” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” are very
different however. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a comedy. Oberon, king of
Midsummer Night’s Dream”; he tried to play every part), and places an herb on
Titania that causes her to fall in love with him. This is quite humorous. However,
at the end of the play all the couples are back together, with the ones they love.
Thus Lysander and Hermia do get married. If Egeus had showed up at the
would have attended the wedding, and killed his daughter, this play could have
been a tragedy.
Likewise, “Romeo and Juliet”, could have been a comedy. The first two acts of
this play qualifies it as a comedy. In act I, Sampson and Gregory, servants of the
and insult each other as often as they insult the Montagues.” (”Barron’s, 45). In
act II, Romeo meets Juliet. All is going well until Tybalt, a Capulet kills Romeo’s
could have been a comedy. This play is a tragedy, not because one character has
a flaw, but both families have a flaw- pride.
Prohibited love, romance, controlling families, both plays have it all. With a few
simple modifications, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” could have been a tragedy,
and “Romeo and Juliet” could have been a comedy. Shakespeare however, uses
many of the same character types, young, prudent, rebellous lovers, and
character molds, along with theme molds that can be easily translated into almost
any plot, in any play.er.