Shakespeare paper - Jessica Simmons March 18th, 2008...

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Jessica Simmons March 18 th , 2008 Shakespeare paper Daniel Wollenberg Comedy vs. History The mystery behind Shakespeare’s themes has been a battle that has been interpreted by many for years. In Russ McDonald’s excerpt from The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare , he believes that the dramatic modes prevalent are “irregular and ever-changing.” But are we to say that the use of comedy as a developing theme in one play is standard for all of Shakespeare’s plays? And the answer that has been debated for centuries is no. Shakespeare’s use of comedy as a theme plays a significant role and is used as a filter to express the social and economical problems that were prevalent during his time period. On one end, the reader is introduced to a life full of excitement and fun consisting of alcohol, robberies, and exaggerated tales from the notably gluttonous Falstaff. On the other, there is the dark, dreary world full of the pressure to maintain honor and everything that goes along with it of the bourgeoisie. Falstaff and his tavern seem to exhibit a type of disruption within this standard typical hierarchy and create a more developed culture than just the archetypal “status quo.” Within Henry IV, Shakespeare’s use of the comedy plot is displaying that there was an entire world thriving under the surface of aristocracy, which coincidentally furthers Hal’s rise to power. As the main source of comedy throughout the play, Falstaff and the relationship he has with Prince Hal, the differing attitudes of Hotspur and Falstaff and the varying definitions of honor are three of the many reasons why the comedy plot illuminates the central history
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plot. The comedic themes present in Henry IV part one depict the working class citizens, or the “average Joes,” as subservient individuals with little or no say in what is going on in the political world of England. And within this lower class civilization, thoughts of politics and the upper class are ignored and Falstaff represents this world of happiness and fun. The festive plays and outlandish parties full of drunken stories is a daily occurrence for the fun-loving Falstaff. With his legendary wit, Falstaff is a character known for his glutinous manner and for being Hal’s criminally degenerate mentor. The basic plot gives a voice to the poor and barbaric character of Falstaff and
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This note was uploaded on 03/30/2008 for the course SHAKESPEAR 101 taught by Professor Danielwollenberg during the Spring '08 term at Pittsburgh.

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Shakespeare paper - Jessica Simmons March 18th, 2008...

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