Comedy Versus Tragedy Essay, Research Paper
Tragedy versus Comedy
Undeniable similarities can be drawn between two Shakespearean masterpieces, “A Midsummer-Night’s Dream” and “Romeo and Juliet”. These similarities involve themes and classical Shakespearean character types. Both plays have a distinct pair of lovers, the confused couple, Hermia and Lysander, and the romantic couple, Romeo and Juliet. Both works could have also easily been transformed into the opposite with a few effortless modifications. A tragedy is a play in which one or more characters have a moral flaw that leads to his or her downfall. On the other hand, a comedy has at least one humorous character, and then a successful and/or happy ending. Comparing these two particular Shakespearean plays is helpful to find how Shakespeare uses similar character types in a variety of different situations, and the wonderful versatility of the themes he utilizes.
In “Romeo and Juliet”, Juliet is young, “not yet fourteen”, and she is beautiful. Romeo’s reaction after he first sees her is,
“O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for the earth too dear!”
Romeo is awestruck by her magnificent beauty. It is love at first sight. Yet young Juliet is sensible, “?although [she feels] joy in [Romeo], [she would] have no joy in this contract tonight. It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden.” She feels that since their relationship is still undeveloped they should not be childish and ?swear? by each other?s love. She also implies that since they are still early in their affair they will definitely be abstaining from sexual intercourse.
One massive impasse in the young lover?s relationship is the constant quarreling of their stubborn parents. Because of these feuds, their parents would never allow the lovers to be together. They were quite auspicious that they kept the affair veiled from their parent?s attention.
In both the couple?s lives involve an outside presence for help. Juliet and Romeo seek the assistance of Friar Lawrence. The Friar tries to make their relationship work to the best of his ability. Though in the end most his attempts fail. Another character that helped the young lovers is Juliet?s nurse. Since the nurse loved Juliet so dearly, she tried everything she could to make her sweet Juliet happy. Most of the involvement the nurse had worked for the best.
Comparable to Juliet is Hermia. She too is young, beautiful, and sensible. Lysander eagerly suggests that “One turf shall serve as a pillow for both of us, One heart, one bed, two bosoms, and one troth.” Hermia intelligently replies, “Nay, good Lysander. For my sake, my dear, lie further off yet; do not lie so near.” Although their relationship is a slight more developed than Romeo and Juliet?s, Hermia still attempts to attain her purity and her innocence. She abstains from sleeping near Lysander even though she believes he does not have tainted intentions.
In a different fashion Hermia is forbidden to marry Lysander. Hermia’s father Egeus states to Theseus, Duke of Athens,
“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 he permits the marriage of Demetrius and Hermia, but prohibits the groom to be Lysander. Hermia believes that both men are equal. And she wants to marry the man that she is happy with, not the man she is permitted to marry.
Hermia and Lysander also seek the help of another. While leaving to secretly be together they attain the aid of Lysander?s aunt who lives in the woods near Athens.
There are well-built parallels in ?Romeo and Juliet? and ?Midsummer-Nights Dream?. Such as young lovers, forbidden love affairs, controlling parents, and unforeseen occurrences. And with a few simple adjustments “A Midsummer-Night’s Dream” could have effortlessly become a tragedy, while “Romeo and Juliet” transformed into a comedy. Shakespeare often uses many of the same character types: young, prudent, rebellious lovers, and controlling family members, in both comedies and tragedies. The end results being character molds, along with theme patterns that can be easily translated into almost any plot, in any play.