Ill, pp. The performance of the Adelphi at Queen's. College, Cambridge, in , which Boas mentions on p. The PlauHne Tradition in Shakespeare 69 by the translation of the Acolastus in , must have left its mark on the work of the schoolmasters, although the Latin dramas of Udall and Radcliffe of Hitchin have perished, and the only remaining examples of "Schulkomodie" in the manu- scripts of Oxford and Cambridge show more Italian than German influence.
Troupes of Italian actors, too, had passed from the capitals of the Continent to London, and had given many a splendid production before the court. Striking testimony to the per- formance, not only of written drama, but of improvised comedy, is to be found in allusions to the stock r61es of Italian drama. The scene-headings and stage directions of the earliest editions of Shakespeare's plays refer to certain characters as "the Brag- gart," "the Pedant," "a pantaloon" Love's Labour's Lostlll. Biron, in Love's Labour's Lost V. Allusions to improvising Antony and Cleopatra V.
Churchill and W. Keller in Shakespeare- J ahrhich 34 , pp. Shakespeare, "soul of the age," could hardly have escaped these influences. As to his knowledge of education- drama we have no direct evidence, but his acquaintance with the work of Italian "professionals" is evident from the passages just quoted, and the characterization of the actors for whom "Seneca can not be too heavy, nor Plautus too light" Hamlet II.
Shakespeare and the Traditions of Comedy
Whenever a translation was available, Shake- speare seems to have preferred it to the original; but he probably knew enough Latin to extract the plot of a play, had a working knowledge of French, and was not altogether ignorant of Italian. The threads are so interwoven that it is practically impossible to separate the two, and in most cases it is useless to attempt to discover direct borrowings.
Even general resem- blances must be noted with caution; for horseplay and farcical tricks are common to all climes and ages, and it is even possible that, given similar circumstances, the same comic type might arise independently — as the figure of the braggart soldier " Cf. Smith, Commedia dell' Arte, pp.
Anders, Shakespeare's Books Berlin, , pp. The results of this study are summarized by W. Neilson and A. We may note, first of all, resem- blances in the external form of the play. The ancient Roman stage normally represented a street, with three house doors.
Senigaglia, Capitan Spavenlo Florence, , pp. On the general resemblance between these two periods, see also Bond, Early Plays, Introd.
See Dziatzko-Hauler, Ed. Phormio Leipzig, , Introd. The action of the Rtidens of Plautus was supposed to take place on the seashore, and that of the Heauton Tiniorumenos of Terence in the country; but we do not know exactly how the scenes of these plays were represented. Plaut Cure. The prologue had been characteristic of classical drama from the time of Euripides. One Leone de Sommi, an actor- manager of 16th Century Italy, gives special commendation to the prologue "in the manner of the ancients," spoken by the poet or his representative, clad in a toga and wearing a crown of laurel.
And though there is no play in which one of the characters gives the necessary information in a direct address to the audience, the long speeches of Aegeon to the Duke in the first scene of The Comedy of Errors, and of Lucentio to Tranio at the opening of The Taming of the Shrew, perform exactly the same function. Misogonus, Prologue, 1. On prologue and epilogue in English drama, see W. The FlauHne Tradition in Shakespeare 73 of your good hands," are faint echoes of the Plautine plaudite.
One might draw a neat parallel between Plautus's variation of lyric and simple dialogue meters, and Shakespeare's alternation of verse and prose, especially when the senarius of the Latin poet and the prose of the English bring a distinct lowering of emo- tional tone. The Roman dramatists had made much of mistaken identity, whether due to natural resemblance or to the deliberate assumption of another r61e. Ralph Roisler Doister, V. The letters of Asin. Just as the wandering Sycophant is hired to pose as a messenger from Charmides, and, all unwitting, confronts old Charmides himself Trin.
Comedy - Examples and Definition of Comedy
The other motive is a composite of several situations in classical comedy. The Captivi represents a noble-minded slave who, when he and his master are prisoners of war, assumes his master's dress and name, so that the latter may escape. In the Eunuchus, too, an exchange of clothing takes place, but this time the object is to give Chaerea access to the girl with whom he is in love. Similarly, in the Amphitruo, Jupiter and Mercury take the forms of Amphitruo and his slave Sosia, in order that Jupiter may enjoy Amphitruo's wife. The lover in Shakespeare's play first arranges that his servant Tranio shall "keep house and port and servants" in his stead, and then, in the guise of a pedant, presents himself as a tutor for his lady.
Creizenach, English Drama, pp.
The theme is of course common in the literature of the East and in mediaeval romances which are quite independent of Latin influence. Rapp, Geschichte des griechischen Schauspiels Tubingen, , p. The similarity of Comedy of Errors, I. In a variant which is not found in Plant us and occurs in only a few scattering instances in Italian drama, but is repeated- ly employed by English playwrights, a character assumes dis- guise for the purpose of watching unobserved.
The Duke in Measure for Measure announces his intention of quitting the city, but actually remains, in the garb of a friar, and takes an important part in the action. And in Lear, the banished Kent, returning in humble guise, and the outlawed Edgar, as "poor Tom," still wait upon their king. Another off-shoot — and by far the most popular — represents a woman "caparisoned like a man. The additional complication which gives to Viola a twin brother exactly like her, is found in Italian literature again and again. The reverse of this figure, the "Boy Bride," comes much more directly from Latin comedy.
The story of the old man who married a fair maiden, only to find her a boy in disguise, was handled by Plautus in the Casina, enjoyed some popularity on the Italian stage, and received its most notable treatment in Jonson's Epicoene, or the Silent Woman. Shakespeare has only two faint reminiscences of this situation — in the Induction to The Taming of the Shrew borrowed from the earlier Taming of a Shrew , where a lad plays "madam wife" to Christopher Sly, and in the closing scene of The Merry Wives, where Dr.
Caius and Slender are duped. Each snatches from the troop of fairies a dancer whom he supposes to be sweet Anne Page, and then each discovers that he has married "oon garsoon," "a great lubberly boy. For the interaction between drama and romance, see p. Similarly, in Supposes, the five-year-old son of Cleander is lost at the sack of Otranto.
In Terence's Heauton Timor umenos the child of a legal marriage is exposed simply because of her undesirable sex. Misogonus represents the elder of twin sons as being "sent away" at birth, without adequate reason. Similarly, the identity of Eugonus in Misogonus is established by a sixth toe, and that of Dulipo in Supposes by a mole on the left shoulder.
The Plautine Tradition in Shakespeare 77 Perhaps the most common means of identification in Greek and Latin drama is the ring snatched by the mother of the child from the hand of its father on the night of their one meeting. This motive reappears, in a somewhat different setting, in All's Well IV.
The exchange of rings also figures, in connection with disguise, in the plots of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Merchant of Venice, and Twelfth Nights" Some of the characters in Shakespeare's plays show a remote resemblance to their classical forbears. The hero, however, continues to be "a proper stripling and an amorous. A ring also brings about the recognition in the Curculio of Plautus and the Heauton Timorumenos of Terence, although the circumstances are somewhat different.
The dutiful Lysiteles 78 Coulter The pater familias of Latin comedy was useful chiefly because he furnished albeit unwillingly the necessary funds for his son's romance. Sometimes the memory of his own wild oats made him tolerant of the young man's misdemeanors; more often he took an uncompromising stand as censor of morals and laudator temporis actiP In four plays of Plautus Asinaria, Bacchides, Casina, M creator , the old men cast lustful eyes at their sons' mistresses; in the Aulularia, the rich old bachelor Megadorus makes an honorable request for the hand of the miser's daughter, without dowry.
Italian dramatists took over these figures, and, by exaggerating their ridiculous aspects, developed the Pantaloon and the Pedant or Doctor, the former, as a rule, the father of hero or heroine, the latter often a suitor for the lady's hand. At the beginning and again at the end of his career, Shakespeare was attracted by a tradition of stage romances which can be traced back to Chaucer's time.
But the main shaping behind his comedies came from the classical tradition.
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Mr Salingar therefore examines the underlying theme of 'errors' in Greek and Roman comedies and, taking three Italian comedies famous in the sixteenth century as examples, he then reveals how the Italian Renaissance revived the classical tradition, and what effect this revival had on Shakespeare the Elizabethan playwright and discusses such topics as the device of the play within a play and Shakespeare's choice of Italian short stories as plot material. This book shows how Shakespeare changed the motifs he took over from previous traditions of comedy and highlights the innovations he introduced, as an actor-dramatist writing in the first period of commercial theatre in Europe.
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