Response to Maus' Interpretation of Shakespearean Comedy Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1133 Words
Date:  2022-05-09

Part One: Comedy Convention

During Shakespeare's era, comedy was perceived as a distinctive kind of play which went beyond a collection of funny sketches or festive customs (Maus 105). Irrespective of the variations depicted in the individual new comedies, they adhered to a particular set of patterns. According to Maus, a youth being in love with an apparently unsuitable maiden is one of the conventions of the new comedy which Shakespeare deploys in some of his plays. Shakespeare contends that different characters in the play ("heavy father") is against the union. In the play Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare illustrates the union between Lorenzo and Jessica as the forbidden love. Shylock, who is Jessica's father is against the association, since Lorenzo is not only from poor backgrounds but also a Christian, something which he strongly detests. Jessica eloping with Lorenzo typifies Shakespeare's new comedy where those in love overcomes the challenges, to become triumphant at the end.

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Part Two: Essay

Shakespeare's comic plays have overcome the test of time, by continually epitomizing the concept of the new comedy. Even if Shakespeare's plays are considered to be comedies, it is apparent that their plot and script are not necessarily 'laugh-out-loud-funny.' According to Katherine Maus, Shakespearean comedies are unique plays, which are not based on a series of jokes or a collection of funny (Maus 105). Shakespeare's comedy thrives on a playwright who mixes genres, thus developing comedy from his tragedies or tragedy from his comedies. This paper will evaluate Shakespeare's plays: 'Merchant of Venice' and 'Taming of the Shrew' to support Maus' interpretation of Shakespearean comedy which revolves around romance, tragedy, disguise, and marriage.

Article Summary

According to Maus' argument in the article, the comedy genre has undergone a significant transformation since the medieval and Renaissance England periods. Previously, clowning was the typical form of comedy where the "fool could not be funny if refrained from obscene, satirical or disrespectful remarks" (Maus 104). Irrespective of the clown's liberty of speech when being funny, there was a limit, which when exceeded risked to offend the influential audience (political and religious leaders). Subsequent scripted comedies assumed some attributes of the clown, with the primary focus being on the fool Feste (Mau 105). However, Shakespearean time signaled the inception of the new comedy where the plays were had distinct features of the comic with a little emphasis on jokes, funny sketches or festive customs. Regardless of the variations identified in individual new comedies, they depict similarities in particular set of conventions such as marriage, love, tragedy, and disguise. Maus, concludes that Shakespearean comedy is typically developed through the combination of these conventions.

Response to Maus' Interpretation of Shakespearean comedy

Love is a major convention in the Shakespearean comedy. According to Maus' assertion, it is common for Shakespeare plays to revolve around a young man who is in love with an unsuitable maiden. The union is typically objected by some characters, who will apply different tactics to frustrate and intimidate those involved romantically, with the aim of discontinuing such relationship (Maus 105). However, persistence and rebellion against opposing force enable the lovers to emerge triumphant in their relation.

Jessica and Lorenzo's romantic relationship in the Play 'Merchant of Venice' is one of the passages that support Maus' interpretation on Shakespearean comedy, regarding love convention. Jessica is a Jew, and Lorenzo is a Christian. Shylock; Jessica's father, is a sworn enemy to the Christians, prompting him to denounce any chance of his daughter courting a Christian. For example, when Bassanio invites him for dinner, Shylock sarcastically responds: "...Yes, to smell pork, to eat of the the swine which your prophet, the Nazarite, conjured the devil" (ACT ONE - Scene Three, line 16). Lorenzo and Jessica can only triumph in their love, only if they overcome the Shylock's hindrance which arises from his hatred to Christians. Maus interpretation implies that rebelliousness signifies the beginning of liberation and new life (Maus 106). For example, Jessica elopes with Lorenzo, thus liberating herself from her father's captivity.

Shakespeare's play "Taming of the Shrew" can also be used to support Maus' interpretation of the Shakespearean comedy, regarding romantic love. Lucentio and Bianca epitomize a relationship which is based on romance and real love, unlike Kate and Petruchio's relationship which is a marriage of convenience. Upon arriving in Pardua for his studies, Lucentio falls in love with Bianca, who is Baptista Minola's young daughter. Lucentio faces some challenges in the pursuit of Bianca's love. Bianca already has two suitors who are Gremio and Hortensio. Bianca's father is also adamant that no one will court her young daughter until Katherine (Minola's eldest daughter) is married (Act 1, Scene 1). Lurencio disguising as Bianca's Latin tutor, to win her lover supports Maus' argument that a supposedly unsuitable suitor will remain determined to be triumphant. Through persistent, Lucentio succeeds in wooing Bianca to be lovers. Maus' reasoning that rebellion liberates an individual is demonstrated when Lucentio and Bianca decide to elope and get married. The elopement enabled Bianca and Lucentio overcome Baptista's demands, which could have derailed their union.

Maus' arguments that comic world typically involves many characters and plot is supported in Shakespeare's plays: "Merchant of Venice" and "Taming of the Shrew." According to Maus' views, comic genre focusses on the rejuvenation of the whole community, "a renewal of which the concluding marriages are a kind of metaphor..." (Maus 108). It is implied that a society depends on adults or fertile members for procreation, thus facilitating the continuation of a community.

In Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare orchestrates a series of marriages which include: Portia and Bassanio, Gratianno and Nerrisa and Lorenzo and Jessica. The couples in these marriages overcome different challenges to ensure that their marriages survive. In "Taming of the Shrewd," some of the unions highlighted are Kate and Petruchio, Bianca and Lucentio and Hortensio and Hortensio and the Widow. From these two plays, it is demonstrated that individuals are concerned with the construction of a community, even if it means going against the existing cultural norms (Maus 108). It can, therefore, be contended that marriage convention in Shakespearean comedy focuses on the domestic life and the relations amongst family members and neighbors.


Evaluation of the plays "Merchant of Venice" and "Taming of the Shrew" attests that Katherine Maus' interpretation of the Shakespearean comedy holds. Comedy conventions such as marriage, satirical, love and disguise, which were highlighted in Maus' article are applied in the two plays. These components have enhanced the notion that the new comedy is based on the plays which depict distinct features of the comic with a little emphasis on jokes, funny sketches or festive customs.

Works Cited

Maus, Katehrine. "Shakespearean Comedy ." (2009): 103-118. print .

Shakespeare, William. "The Taming of the Shrew." Orson Scott Card (n.d.): 1-36. print .

Star, Jonathan. "THE MERCHANT OF VENICE by "William Shakespeare"." A Contemporary English Version, (2000): 1-191. print.

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Response to Maus' Interpretation of Shakespearean Comedy Essay. (2022, May 09). Retrieved from

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