What is the difference between Shakespeare Comedy and Tragedy?

The main difference between Shakespearean comedy and tragedy is that Shakespearean comedies end with marriages or reunions, but Shakespearean tragedies usually end with the death of the tragic hero.

Shakespeare's plays were basically divided into three main categories such as comedies, stories, and tragedies. However, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the genre or some pieces as they have elements of multiple categories. Literary scholars have identified several common characteristics for both comedies and tragedies in order for them to be properly identified.

Key areas covered

1. What is Shakespeare Comedy - Definition , Common Elements, List of Comedies 2. What is Shakespeare Tragedy - Definition, Common Elements, List of Tragedies 3. What is the difference between Shakespeare Comedy and Tragedy - Main Differences Comparison

key terms

Shakespeare, Shakespeare Comedy, Shakespeare Tragedy

Difference Between Shakespeare Comedy and Tragedy - Comparative Summary

What is Shakespeare Comedy?

Shakespearean comedies can be defined as pieces of Shakespearean plays that end in a union or marriage. In reality, Shakespeare comedies are not "comedies" in the modern sense of the world. Plots and characters of the play are seldom weird or laughing out loud. Also, not everything that happens in them is happy or carefree.

Shakespeare plays commonly classified as comedies

  • As you Like It
  • A midsummer night's dream
  • All's well that ends well
  • The Taming of the Shrew
  • The merry wives of Windsor
  • A lot of noise about nothing
  • The two gentlemen of Verona
  • The comedy of mistakes
  • Cymbeline
  • Lost labor of love
  • Measure for measure
  • The merchant of Venice
  • Pericles, Prince of Tire
  • Troilus and Cressida
  • Twelfth night
  • The two noble relatives
  • The winter fairy tale
What is the difference between Shakespeare Comedy and Tragedy?

Figure 1: A scene from the Taming of the Shrew

Main features of Shakespearean comedies

Literary scholars have identified several common features in Shakespearean comedies. These include:

Love and marriage - The themes of love and marriage as well as separation and reconciliation are in the foreground in Shakespeare's comedies. Almost all of these comedies end a marriage or at least an engagement.

False Identity and Misunderstanding - Characters dress up or pretend to be different, or mistaken for someone else, creating a comical effect.

Complex Plots - Compared to Shakespearean tragedies and stories, comedies have more twists and turns , making the plot complex and unpredictable.

In addition, the language used in Shakespeare's comedies uses nifty puns, metaphors, and insults. Another notable feature of these comedies is their setting. Most of these comedies have idyllic locations like the mysterious island of Illyria (Twelfth Night) or the Arden Forest (As You Like It).

What is Shakespeare's tragedy?

Shakespeare is perhaps more famous for his tragedies. Tragedies like Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello are known all over the world. In addition, scientists have identified several common features in Shakespeare's tragedies. All of these pieces have a protagonist with a tragic flaw that leads to his downfall. In addition, this protagonist is often a nobleman of great power and great wealth. In the play, the tragic hero faces both internal and external struggles. Although the tone of the pieces is pretty serious, you can find some passages or characters that come off as weird relief.

Key difference - Shakespeare Comedy vs. Tragedy

Figure 2: A scene from Othello

In Shakespeare's tragedies, you will find one or more of the following elements:

Elements of a Shakespearean tragedy

  • A tragic hero
  • A dichotomy of good and bad
  • Hamartia
  • Questions of fate or fortune
  • greed
  • Evil vengeance
  • Supernatural elements

Shakespeare plays commonly classified as tragedies

  • Titus Andronicus
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Julius Caesar
  • hamlet
  • Troilus and Cressida
  • Othello
  • King Lear
  • Macbeth
  • Antony and Cleopatra
  • Coriolanus

Difference Between Shakespeare Comedy and Tragedy

definition

Shakespeare comedies are plays by Shakespeare that end in marriages or reunions, but Shakespeare tragedies are plays by Shakespeare that usually end with the death of the tragic hero.

end

Comedies generally end happily, but tragedies end sadly.

focus

Shakespearean comedies focus more on situations than characters, while Shakespearean tragedies focus more on characters.

sign

Shakespearean comedies can feature middle-class or middle-class main characters, while tragedies mostly feature characters from the nobility.

elements

The theme of love and marriage, complex plot, false identities or misunderstandings, clever puns are some elements of Shakespeare's tragedies, while tragic heroes, a dichotomy of good and evil, hamartia, questions of fate or luck, vicious vengeance, supernatural elements and catharsis are some Elements in Shakespeare's tragedies.

diploma

The main difference between Shakespearean comedy and tragedy is that Shakespearean comedies end with marriages or reunions, while Shakespearean tragedies usually end with the death of the tragic hero. The theme of love and marriage, complex plot, false identities or misunderstandings, clever puns are some elements of Shakespeare's tragedies, while tragic heroes, a dichotomy of good and evil, hamartia, questions of fate or luck, vicious vengeance, supernatural elements and catharsis are some Elements in Shakespeare's tragedies.

Reference:

1. Jamieson, Lee. “4 Ways to Identify a Shakespearean Comedy.” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, August 10, 2019, available here .2. Edley, Luke et al. "Elements of Shakespeare Comedy." Thanet Writers, November 5, 2019, available here . Jamieson, Lee. "What Makes Shakespeare's Tragedies Tragic?" ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, Dec. 24, 2018, available here.

Image courtesy:

1. “ShrewKatePetrucio” By Smatprt - Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia 2. “Otelo e Desdémona - Antonio Muñoz Degraín” By Antonio Muñoz Degrain - (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the author: Hasa

Hasa holds a BA in English, French and Translation Studies. She is currently reading for a Masters in English. Her areas of interest include literature, language, linguistics and also food.