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Why Is 'as You Like It' Described As A Comedy?

1146 words - 5 pages

As You Like It is described as a comedy as it portrays many comic traits. As L.J Potts (1996:99) states '[its] structure [....] follows a pattern appropriate to comedy,' and it gives rein to humour in dramatic situations. The themes that are so common in comedy dramas such as searching, disguise, night to day movement, self discovery, marriage, tragic overtones and monetary interest are all predominant throughout the play. The turning of man to ass, resolution in paradox, a spirit of playfulness, a low life farcical subplot and a harmonious ending are also included. These factors added with the pastoral settings, humorous characters, language and verbal jokes give As You Like It the perfect ingredient's for a successful comedy drama.In Act one, scene one, Oliver's hate filled soliloquy and his malicious treatment of his brother Orlando, displays nothing light hearted or comic and shows no indication that As You Like It is to be a comedy. In fact the play starts with such a serious presentation of the propensity of human beings to evil that the play has the potential of a tragedy. However as L.J Potts (1966:30) explains, 'the general affect of comedy is to relax tension of feeling; but it has its moments of tension.' The comedy traits begin to appear in scene two with the witty banter of Rosalind and Celia and the entry of the humorous Touchstone, a licensed clown, who is funny in himself, as well as prompting verbal humour around him. This comedy is further reinforced with the entry of the pompous Le Beau and the jokes that are aimed at him.The unjust banishment of Rosalind and Celia to the forest creates the main source of comedy of the play, the device of disguise, with Rosalind masked as a young male named Ganymede and Celia concealed as a young male named Aliena. In the plot the disguise is well motivated for practical reasons, but Rosalind also uses it to woo her unbeknowing lover Orlando. The resulting dramatic irony that arises when the dramatist creates and exploits a discrepancy between what the characters know and what the audience knows is highly comic and entertaining. (e.g, Phebe's falling for Ganymede.) Through this, the invariably comic cross dressing Rosalind is able to expose the absurdity of conventional modes of wooing as well as humorously mocking females, whilst actually being one herself.Act 3 is fortified with romance, (with Silvius declaring his love for the disdainful Phebe), playful intelligence, (shown when Touchstone parodies Orlando's poetry making him look like a lovesick ass), and witty exchanges in which comedy elements shine through. Touchstones language also emits a comic feel with humorous wordplays, antithesis and puns as he fools with words and empties them of meaning by the inappropriate application of logical argument.Touchstones ungallant wooing of Audrey (who he refers to as an 'ill favoured' ' poor virgin') progresses the comic theme. His explanation for his choice of bride; 'Rich honesty dwells like a...

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