Difference Between Shakespeare’s Romantic Comedy and Comedy of Manner

The essence of a Romantic comedy especially the Shakespearean kind lies primarily in the explorations of the depths of the lover’s hearts, their emotions, their feelings, their joyous outbursts and their momentary agonies. The way Shakespeare sounded the depths of passion in Viola and Olivia, in Hermia and Lysander, in Rosalind and Orlando, shows that the purpose of the Romantic Comedies is to explore in depth love, a deep attribute of the heart, as a value guiding human lives. This fathoming the depth of cordial emotions is absent in a comedy of manners. In a comedy of manners love is a portrayal, but the purpose of the playwright is not to try and analyze the guiding spirit of this steadfast passion called love in the form of intrigues, just as a game of the two sexes presented only on the superficial social plane. Millamant and Mirabell are not Violas and Rosalinds; the former take love as an intrigue, the latter are deeply swayed by it.

 As a natural consequence of the above observation, Shakespearean comedy or Romantic comedy in general, lays stress on individual character portraiture. In the Shakespearean Romantic comedies the major exponents are individualized, as also those popish dandies and fashionable beaux because the thrust of a playwright in the comedy of manners is not upon individual characters; for them the characters are more representative emblems of certain social groups mainly the urban upper classes.

The sources of comedy in the comedy of manners are wit and sparkling dialogue, ridicule and satire. As a result, characters indulge in brilliant repartees, witty exchanges and verbal dislocation. Moreover the comedy of manners shows how the frivolities and affectations of pseudo culture are brought to ridicule. On the contrary, in a Shakespearean comedy, the source of comedy lays in the essential bliss, the praise, the balance the joy that comes at the end to fulfill lovers who realize to their hearts content that the world itself a joy. A comedy of manners is pungent; a Romantic comedy is soft and smoothing. A comedy of manners is located in society; its accoutrements are in belle palls, social inter action in pubs, coffee houses or the drawing room. A romantic comedy is located far from the madding crowds; its paraphernalia are composed of woods and trees, evening and birds. A comedy of manners amuses, a Romantic comedy delights and matures. 

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