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Shakespearean Comedy

To speak of “Shakespearean comedy” is to speak of more than just the 12 plays of William Shakespeare that resolve temporary problems more or less happily into social, family, or marital union, as comedy usually does. In any account of Shakespearean comedy, it is also important to consider the humorous elements throughout his work, for example in the histories of Henry IV (Parts I and II, 1596–1598) and Henry V (1599) and in his most famous tragedies, Hamlet (1600), Othello (1603), Lear (1605), and Macbeth (1606), where humorous characters and situations provide comic relief from the intense tragic action unfolding all around. Alongside the 12 well-recognized comedies, Shakespeare’s first editors, John Heminges and Henry Condell, who put together the First Folio (1623), also included in ...

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