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''Every Man in His Humour'' Comedy - Book Report/Review Example

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The earliest dramatic representation in England is believed to have been the performance of a Latin play in honour of St. Katherine in 1110. Drama originated from the rich symbolic ceremonial of the Church. It was the work of priests who used it as a means of conveying the truths of their religion to the illiterate masses…
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Every Man in His Humour Comedy
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Download file to see previous pages While the basis of these plays was the Bible, the treatment was a free one. Particularly in the direction of humour, the popular imagination began to fill in details (Critchley 2002). Noah's wife was, for instance, made a comic figure, for she was shown very realistically as a scolding woman, refusing to enter the Ark and ridiculing Noah's prophecy of destruction. Into the scene where the shepherds watch their flocks by night on Christmas Eve, there was introduced a comic sheep-stealing episode. Herod was a ranting figure of melodrama. Where Satan appeared, there was plenty of horse-play, with the yelling and belabouring of devils whose parts were taken by small boys (Critchley 2002).
A later introduction of much importance in these plays was the so-called Vice, who was a humourous personification of evil taken on the comic side (Smirgel 1988). Vice was the recognized fun-maker of the piece. This character often scored a tremendous popular success by jumping on the Devil's back, sticking thorns into him, beating him with a stick and making him roar with pain. This figure of Vice is the ancestor or direct forerunner of the Elizabethan clown (Smirgel 1988).
By the second quarter of the sixteenth century, the Moralities had reached a transitional stage. Human figures were mixed with allegorical figures. As a result, we have plays which, according to their dominant tone, may be called Comedy Moralities, Tragedy Moralities, and History Moralities (Wagg 1998). Some of the shorter of these transitional Moralities are called Interludes. The Interludes are particularly associated with the name of John Heywood (1497-1580), whose plays dropped the allegory and didacticism of the Moralities and were intended for the aristocracy, not for the middle or lower classes (Wagg 1998).
The earliest regular English comedy is Gammer Gurton's Needle, the authorship of which is not known. It was written about 1550 and acted not long after that date at Christ's college, Cambridge. And then from "Ralph Roister Doister" by Nicholas Uddal to John Lyly's (1544-1606) best are Compaspe, Endymion, and Gallanthea, from George Peele's (1558-1597) "The Old Wives' Tale" to The Knight of the Burning Pestle1 by Beaumont and Fletcher (Double 1997).
Shakespeare's comedies are essentially Romantic comedies, not only because of the mingling in them of the romantic love-interest with mirth and fun, but because they are also a mixture of serious, and even tragic, elements and comic elements, and, further, because they do not observe any of the classical unities (of time, place, and action). They are rich in characterization both as regards range or variety, and depth (Smirgel 1988).
In a different key altogether are the comedies of Ben Jonson (1573-1637). Not only did Jonson call for an observance of the three classical unities, but he made was upon the fantastic and extravagant qualities of the romantic imagination, trying to replace them with classical sanity and restraint. In one respect at least the classical quality of Jonson's comedies gives them an interest that is permanent, and an influence that was far-reaching. One difference between the romantic spirit and the classic is that the former tends towards escape from the actual conditions of life, while the latter tends to work realistically within them. This appears clearly when we compare Twelfth Night with Every Man in His Humour. Shakespeare's ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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