Comedy Starter – Match the key words with the definition … Pun A comic play featuring improbable situations Farce A play in which topical issues are held up to ridicule Satire An exaggerated portrayal of a person or type of person for comic effect Caricature Word which has two meanings but sounds the same Repartee Making witty replies and remarks Double entendre Words that can be interpreted in two ways
Learning Objective: To explore the structure of comedy and the character of Don John … But before … Swap homework with your partner and peer assess their paragraphs on Beatrice and Benedick. You should suggest something they have done well and set them a target (that is meaningful!) Some things to think about: Have they answered the question? Have they made an interesting and engaging point which is supported with relevant evidence from the text? Have they analysed their quote in detail – considering Shakespeare’s intentions, how it relates to comedy, the effect on the audience and explored any interesting individual words/phrases?
The structure of comedy … Dramatic comedy is a specific genre of literature which operates within a set of conventions. It usually follows a tripartite or three-part structure: 1. Exposition – this prepares the audience for what will happen by showing us some alteration in the lives of the characters. Complication – the problems faced by the characters are developed further. A sense of disorder and anarchy (inversion of the normal order of society) prevails e.g. confusions in identity, mishearing, changes in location. 3. Resolution – the complications and disorder are resolved and a new order is generated.
Comedy usually confirms our view of the world, often suggesting that human beings are foolish and cannot change. However it can be controversial by showing us that aspects of society are ridiculous. COMEDY IS OFTEN SERIOUS!
Let’s finish reading Act 1, Scene 1 Claudio: In mine eye she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on. Claudio: I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife. Claudio: That I love her, I feel. What do we learn about Claudio?
Benedick: That a woman conceived me, I thank her; that she brought me up, I likewise give her most humble thanks. But that I will have a recheat winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me. Because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust none. And the fine is, for the which I may go the finer, I will live a bachelor. What do we learn about Benedick?
Let’s read Act 1, scene 2 and 3 together … What has happened? Task: Working with a partner, bullet point the events that have occurred in these two scenes in chronological order.
Where have we reached in the play – exposition, complication or resolution? How do you know that? How many “notings” (misreportings, misunderstandings) have taken place so far in the play? What do you think will be the outcome of these “notings”? Can you see any potential comic moments developing in the play?
Claudio has noted Hero. Don Pedro will impersonate Claudio to woo Hero. Antonio believes and transmits a false report. What theme is emerging so far? Appearances can be deceptive …
Task: Write a brief character description of Don John. Think about: What is his connection to the other characters? What role do you think he will perform in the play? How would you describe his personality? What is his motive? Find a quote which best shows his personality. Don John
Let’s read the opening of Act 2, Scene 1 Beatrice: He were an excellent man that we made just in the midway between him and Benedick. The one is too like an image and says nothing, and the other too like my lady’s eldest son, evermore tattling. Leonato: By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a husband if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue. Beatrice: What should I do with him? Dress him in my apparel, and make him my waiting-gentlewoman? He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man; and he that is more than a youth is not for me, and he that is less than a man I am not for him. Therefore I will even take sixpence in earnest of the bearward, and lead his apes into hell. What is happening in this conversation?
Beatrice: The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be not wooed in good time. If the Prince be too important, tell him there is measure in everything, and so dance out the answer. For hear me, Hero, wooing, wedding, and repenting is as a Scotch jig, a measure, and a cinquepace. The first suit is hot and hasty like a Scotch jig, and full as fantastical; the wedding, mannerly modest as a measure, full of state and ancientry; and then comes repentance, and with his bad legs falls into the cinquepace faster and faster till he sink into his grave. Which AO does this relate to? What is Beatrice suggesting? AO4: Demonstrate understanding of the significance and influence of the contexts in which literary texts are written and received. The wooing is like a Scottish jig: hot and fast and full of whimsy and illusion. The wedding is a like a dance you would do before the King: proper and decorous. Finally, you get to the part where you regret having gotten married in the first place.
Enter DON PEDO, CLAUDIO, BENEDICK, DON JOHN, BORACHIO, and others, as masquers, with a drummer How might this add to the comic element of the play? BENEDICK What’s he? BEATRICE I am sure you know him well enough. BENEDICK Not I, believe me. BEATRICE Did he never make you laugh? BENEDICK I pray you, what is he? BEATRICE Why, he is the Prince’s jester, a very dull fool, only his gift is in devising impossible slanders. None but libertines delight in him, and the commendation is not in his wit but in his villainy, for he both pleases men and angers them, and then they laugh at him and beat him. I am sure he is in the fleet. I would he had boarded me. What is happening here?
DON JOHN(to CLAUDIO) Are not you Signor Benedick? CLAUDIO You know me well. I am he. DON JOHN Signor, you are very near my brother in his love. He is enamored on Hero. I pray you, dissuade him from her. She is no equal for his birth. You may do the part of an honest man in it. CLAUDIO How know you he loves her? DON JOHN I heard him swear his affection. BORACHIO So did I too, and he swore he would marry her tonight. DON JOHN Come, let us to the banquet. CLAUDIO(unmasking) Thus answer I in the name of Benedick, But hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio. 'Tis certain so, the Prince woos for himself. Friendship is constant in all other things Save in the office and affairs of love. Therefore all hearts in love use their own tongues. Let every eye nogetiate for itself And trust no agent, for beauty is a witch Against whose charms faith melteth into blood. This is an accident of hourly proof, Which I mistrusted not. Farewell, therefore, Hero. What is happening here? How might this develop the comedy?
BENEDICK Alas, poor hurt fowl, now will he creep into sedges. But that my Lady Beatrice should know me, and not know me! The Prince’s fool! Ha, it may be I go under that title because I am merry. Yea, but so I am apt to do myself wrong. I am not so reputed! It is the base, though bitter, disposition of Beatrice that puts the world into her person and so gives me out. Well, I’ll be revenged as I may. What are we learning about Benedick in this scene?
Before you go … 1. Exposition – this prepares the audience for what will happen by showing us some alteration in the lives of the characters. Complication – the problems faced by the characters are developed further. A sense of disorder and anarchy (inversion of the normal order of society) prevails e.g. confusions in identity, mishearing, changes in location. Where are we now? 3. Resolution – the complications and disorder are resolved and a new order is generated.