C.L. Barber Argued That Comedy Is All About Pleasure And Merrymaking. How Do You React To This Idea In Your Study Of Much Ado About Nothing?

2652 words - 11 pages

C.L. Barber argued that comedy is all about pleasure and merrymaking. How do you react to this idea in your study of Much Ado About Nothing?
Much Ado About Nothing is heavily influenced by the inclusion of C.L. Barber’s viewpoint on comedy, that pleasure and merrymaking should be a focal point in festive comedy. Shakespeare utilizes witty mockery, satirical conversations and the Saturnalian reversal of roles to emphasize festivity and merrymaking as a main theme in his comedy as this ensures the audience can make fun and laugh at the situations displayed. But, as the audience we cannot forget that Shakespeare used this idea of pleasurable entertainment to disguise the underlying ...view middle of the document...

Beatrice enters the play before Benedick, indicating the first appearance of the Saturnalian reversal of roles Shakespeare uses this thoroughly throughout the play to go against societies norms and expectations, which would shock the audience as contextually in Elizabethan times, women were firmly classed as less important than men across all basis of society, but it also comes out as an amusing factor, as the fact that a woman has come first over a man would add to the whole satirical nature of the two’s comedic skirmish. Their differences are displayed even before Benedick’s arrival as she questions his return from the recent battle whilst utilizing mockery, referring to him as ‘Signor Montanto’. This is a clear double entendre used to make the audience laugh, make a merry atmosphere and show that hers and Benedick’s conflict isn’t malicious and can be classified as light-hearted fun. The word ‘signor’ shows Beatrice’s satirical use of politeness when referring to Benedick as she slates him and openly expresses her apparent dislike for him which juxtaposes her true feelings towards him of which he is not in her favour. The level of hurt and rudeness is kept at mockery level which is also shown by Benedick’s counter-argument of ‘I wish my horse had the speed of your tongue’ and ‘so good a continuer’, to which he is comparing her to an animal, belittling and dehumanizing her as the power struggle continues and the audience is satisfied in a pleasurable way as the jocular nature of the two’s battle stimulates the reader to laugh and be merry. Benedick’s comments would’ve also been highly effective in a comedic sense in Elizabethan times as Horses were a frequently used locomotive for people of high status, firmly indicating where he is on the social ladder as only people of high status or noble soldiers would be able to own a horse, so the audience can relate in an experienced way. In using insults, a brilliant display of comicality can be deployed as Beatrice is able to comment on Benedick’s and hers last encounter where she claims ‘four of his five wits went halting off’, referring to the common Elizabethan theme of the five wits being common sense, imagination, fantasy, estimation and memory so without four of them Benedick would be a vegetable of a man. Also, in using the word ‘halting’ she intends that his only use is to be a soldier, belittling his academic intelligence. These conflicts ease the audience into the play and make their time enjoyable and festive as the exhibition of wit makes the audience laugh uncontrollably. This conveys a prime example of Shakespearean style comedy where mockery is employed frequently to cloak main plots and also hinting at their future connection as the two can converse to result in funny encounters, sometimes endearing one to another as insults can be used to masquerade flirting, in which the audience would also be aware of and be able reminisce about from their personal previous experiences, creating a...

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