Italian Romantic Comedies vs. Northern European Tragedies
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William Shakespeare, an English Poet, a playwright, and the world pre-eminent dramatist, in his writings and comedies, focuses his plays on Love matters, hatred, bitterness and tragedies. However, to sum up all the mentioned above one can realize that, most of his writings, create some focus on the human being daily relationships in most cases. Shakespeare’s romantic comedies plays such as “The Taming of the Shrew” “Much Ado about Nothing,” “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” and the “The Winter’s Tale” are such prove that revolve around love, hatred, and bitterness matters in a human being’s life. This is the period whereby there is the turning point in life at which some conflicts experience maybe from your friends, your loved ones before, begins to resolve themselves for better or worse. Other plays such as the “Macbeth” and “Hamlet” displays some scenes of tragic meaning in life and it is most brutal and cynical. This two plays main objective is to upset people ego about the real life of which most people tend to assume (Shakespeare par. 7).
These things do happen in the human society and for those who have some knowledge about them and they never take them into seriousness. In this essay, the focus will be about family values and tragedies. However, both the family values discussed above and the tragedies are shown in those writings by William Shakespeare and that is the why he chose most of them a part from a few to be performed in Italy but not in England and Denmark.
What one can learn from Shakespeare materials is that, during his time in life, when it came to matters to do with love and marriage, then, one was supposed to hope for love or affection after marriage but also to settle for comfort and respect. During that period, those couples who wanted to get married were told to shift there focus on the social class in order to avoid the social order. This idea of marriage of the social class was in consideration with the approval of all the family members of the match between the two sides. This was the greatest advantage ever since both families always arranged any good marriage.
Other factors that were inline with the marriage institution were the financial matters especially from the man’s home who were supposed to be extremely. The dowry that was to being paid to the woman to be married was intended in the support of the person to be married and cater for her households thus making the financial concerns to be paramount, particularly among the nobility meaning those people who were blessed with property and money to protect. This idea of paying the handsome of money never bothered men at all in those days, instead, they embraced it since their goals was to get married and be respected in the society. For instance, if we look at Shakespeare’s writing in his play, “The Taming of the Shrew”, of which the word shrew is defined to be, a tiny rodent that extremely has got bad tempers, we can see how Petruchio’s considered the idea of the financial status in the marriage institution. However, that is why he set his goal in marriage to be getting married to a rich woman, “I come to wife it wealthily in Padua; If wealthily, then happily in Padua”, (Act 1, scene 2).
The four Shakespeare’s romantic comedic plays such as “The Taming of the Shrew,””Much Ado About Nothing,” “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” and the “The Winter’s Tale”, they all display some characters who deeply fall in love to each other and they use all manners of tricks to make sure each person gets his love of his life. The wealth and dominance are some of the things that are under discussion in all the above Shakespeare’s plays. For instance, if we analyze the play, “The Taming of the Shrew”, we can see how it terms the institution of marriage in society whereby, it focuses the life of those couples who have just married beyond the couple’s wedding. The play sets some examples on how the marriage thing can bring many changes on people’s life and how living together as married partners in the same roof can trigger some changes in someone’s life through the behavior and how to handle some delicate matters (Cummings Par, 8).
Despite some ups and down that are normally experienced in most marriages in the society, one has to cope up with them and be able to tackle the challenges that one faces during marriage. For instance, in the play, The “Taming of the Shrew”, one is able to see some dominance of feelings, which comprises of the uneasiness in the person and the embarrassment. One such example is the case of Petruchio who came all the way from Verona. Petruchio mission was to look for a wealth wife to marry, of whom he found immediately through his friend, Hortensio who informed him about Kate, the daughter of Minola.
Hortensio goes a head to reveal all the information he knew about Kate to his friend Petruchio concerning her behavior. Hortensio tells Petruchio how shrewd Kate is but Petruchio cannot hear any of that because his believes in marriage can change a person with time. There uneasiness and embarrassment between Petruchio and Kate can be seen in their meetings whereby insults and slurs dominate throughout their conversations, all this normally happens in both public and private places. However, for Petruchio to avoid such kinds of embarrassments in front of his pals, he comes up with a lie to convince his friends that all is well. he goes a head by claiming that Kate is very gentle as a lamb when they in a private place themselves and that they have come with an agreement with Kate to continue being shrew and curst in the public domain so as to full people that all was not well. This trend of public and private spat continues until they both get married. During their time of leaving, Petruchio leaves the premises by stating about Kate that, “She is my goods, my chattels. She is my house, my household-stuff, my field, my barn, my horse, my ass, my anything.” (Act 3, scene 3). Of which, due to the embarrassment Petruchio has been undergoing through during their courtship with Kate, he decides to instill some discipline in Kate by being locking her for quite some times without even food, which, this discipline ends up changing her behavior.
This shows how love can conquer some hills and one has to fight for it in whatever aspects to get what one wants especially when it comes to the imperfect person since no one can find a perfect person rather than it is the responsibility of the person to make such imperfect person to be perfect in life. Kate was not perfect at all before and after marriage, instead he was shrewd. Nevertheless, Petruchio took that responsibility of making Kate to be perfect (Shakespeare, 13). Other almost similar scenes can be seen in Shakespeare play, ”Much Ado About Nothing,” which focuses on two war heroes and the women they love, whereby, hatred can be seen within the two old acquaintances. Those mentioned old acquaintances are Benedick and Beatrice. This two people whenever they meet each other, whether in public or private places, what can feel the air is their time insulting each other for quite some time in a long-standing verbal war.
An interesting thing in this comedy play is that, deep within their hearts, they inwardly love each other but they do not want to reveal it. This behavior continues for quite sometime until one of the days during the burial, Benedick opens up his heart to Beatrice and tells her how he loves her. On their way to the chapel, secret sonnet that Benedick had written before to Beatrice expressing his love for her even though he never delivered them are produced by Claudio while Hero produces another sonnet written by Beatrice expressing her love to Benedick. These triggers the final insults as they agree to marry each other of which Benedick says his final words to Beatrice, “Peace! I will stop your mouth!” (Act 5.scene 4). and what follows after their agreement to marry are kisses. This mention relationship shows how love can be strong despite the enmity that people carry in their hearts.
However, for the case in the play, “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”, we see cases of friendship and infidelity. Valentine and Proteus decide to make their way from Verona to Milan. Valentine was being sent to Milan by his father to go and take a position in the Duke of Milan’s court of which his longtime friend Proteus decided to accompany him leaving behind his girlfriend Julia. While performing his duties in Milan, Valentine falls for Duke’s daughter Silvia who was already in a relationship with a wealthier man called Thurio.
Silvia likes Valentino very much hence making things to be more complicated of which they make Valentine to confide to his long time friend Proteus of which makes him to be more smitten the moment he sets his eyes on Silvia. With the jealous in him about the beauty of Silvia, he betrays his long time friend Valentine to his employer, Duke of which leads him to being banished as Silvia is confined to a jail where she cannot set her eyes on Valentine. Proteus wins the heart of his boss Duke, and he is given the responsibility of updating the boss on what is happening between Thurio and Silvia and whether they are related well or not.
Later on, Valentine decides to join a band of outlaws of which he is elected as the leader. Julia having lost her patience of waiting for Proteus for long, he decides to set his foot to Milan in search of her lover Proteus. Sylvia on the other side having loved Valentine that much, he escapes from home in search of her boyfriend. His father Duke discovering that, he orders for her search and before he could reach Valentine, Sylvia is captured by Proteus of whom they confront each other and Proteus becomes open and tells Valentine of his love for Sylvia. It then emerges that the two best friends have fallen for the same woman. Their fight continues by fighting for the one they love hence breaking their friendship but at the end of the day, true love is prevailed whereby Valentine offers to end the fight by leaving Silvia for Proteus of which, it makes Julia who was present to faint. Both Valentine and Proteus are reconciled and they all look forward in sharing the mutual happiness.
At the end of the play, Valentine marries Silvia after the consent or Proteus. Same case of romantics comedy plays are seen in “The Winter’s Tale” through the young lovers, a jealous king and a virtuous queen. Apart from romance life, courtroom dramas are also seen in the play showing how jurisdiction is taken into consideration
With this, it shows how Shakespeare mission was to make people learn social life, which revolve around friendship, courtship and marriage. He wanted to prove that love could be conquered despite some hatred being part of human setting.
Not only did Shakespeare focus on romance alone but he also produced some tragedy plays, which were staged, in both Denmark and England after Queen Elizabeth I’s death. The play “Macbeth” was seen by many to be curse in those days. In the play, some scenes can be witnessed. The cutting of an enemy open from the belly to the throat, showing of the pilots thumb by the witch during the party , lady Macbeth praying to the devil to posses her mind by turning the milk in her breast into bile so that they can make her man commit evil, are part of the things in the play.
Not only that, another play that Shakespeare put his focus on is the “Hamlet” whereby Hamlet displays his two sides of behavior, one side portrays his insane behavior towards his family while the other side determined his thought of either doing the right or wrong thing according to what he happens too see. Conflicts, lack of self-confidence, mismanagement and betrayal are shown in the play. That is why it is considered the first work of literature that posses some stupidity, falsity and sham of the everyday’s life without even creating some joke in it. Hamlet is seen to be a man who does allow his life to compromise with the evil. By achieving that, he reaffirms the tragic dignity of a decent person in a world full of evils. In general, Hamlet focuses on both futility and the wrong doings of our daily life hence creating the common message, which is “life is worth living, even by the imperfect people in an imperfect world”. Shakespeare play of Hamlet focuses a lot on life full of deaths, dead bodies, killing, suicides, diseases, graves and all manners of evils in the world hence setting the standards of the real life most people undergo. The main message that is passed by Hamlet is one to have Hope in life.
This shows some of the tragedies that can happen in ones life.
Interestingly, not almost all the above plays written by Shakespeare were performed in Italy even though any prove to show whether he ever visited Italy before or not but some prove shows that he loved Italy. Italy was better of to England because in England, a lot of censorship dominated the country and if there was, any work that was seen to offend the queen the play could be shut down (Milner Par, 3). To him, it was safer to set the stories in Italy to show as a symbol to the English of corruption and lost ancient glory. That is the reason why Shakespeare termed Italy to be a warm, easy-going place where discipline was lax and most of the people enjoyed their happiness by eating and drinking all the time. It is in this place that Shakespeare thought he had all the freedom to write his thoughts about the class difference, hypocrisy, religion and politics. He wanted to make great use of the Italian architecture by setting his plays in walled cities within which characters assumed different identities or from which someone could be banished.
That is why most of his intimate scenes took place in the lush gardens that were meant to allow some privacy. He took his focus on the market places and large open pizzas, which were known to be the gathering places for most people to visit and create some moods, gossip about some characters reputation or even go further in discussing the latest events. As compared to both England and Denmark, Shakespeare knew very well that Italian ports and cities were the greatest attraction to travelers from all over the world (Rosegg, 12). That is why most people around the world thronged in Italy including Shakespeare himself in search of fortunes, spouses, money and even higher learning. To him, setting the plays outside the country was a very big chance, giving the audiences a distance both in literally and figuratively to reflect about ills of the society. Most of his writings were also associated with some cities in Italy, which were also associated with certain attributes or characteristics.
His most focus was on Padua in the North of Italy, which was considered the center of learning, and it was considered beautiful. Moreover, Shakespeare had another reason for setting up his company in Italy (Friedlander Par, 9). That reason is that he knew very well that it would benefit the company because most of the audiences admired both classical foundations, its economic energy and the cultural richness and it held people in the contempt for their hypocritical behaviors.
In conclusion, William Shakespeare wanted to pass a message across to the audiences about the friendship, courtship and family values. He had taken his time to observe the human nature and the interaction that normally happens in relationships. In his plays, he focuses on the contest of wills between a strong man and a headstrong woman in the human society especially in his play, the “The Taming of the Shrew”. He focuses on those days when marriage was all about the social status and financial matters were put first when it came to matter to do with marriage.
The dowry paid was to take care of the bride. Men who marry were given responsibilities of taking care of the family in whatever circumstances. This was displayed in one of his plays. He said, "Thy husband is … one that cares for thee, And for thy maintenance commits his body To painful labor both by sea and land, To watch the night in storms, the day in cold, Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe; And craves no other tribute at thy hands But love, fair looks and true obedience; Too little payment for so great a debt." (Act 5 scenes 2). This was for the matters concerning love that bounds people very strongly together.
Did he not only focus on romance life but also saw some of the tragedies that revolve around the human life. Families at times do suffer because of some brutalities of life.
Shakespeare set his company of plays in Italy at a time when Padua in Italy was having a huge demand for the new entertainment and most of his plays came out to be vividly with details and knowledge of the Italian cities, names and customs. Whoever who had a chance to watch them, he could think Shakespeare had spent his life in Italy and he knew it well. His plays could not be played in Denmark and England because they risked being burned by the then Queen Elizabeth I until her demise, when some of his tragedies plays which are “Macbeth” and “Hamlet” had a chance to be played in Denmark and England.