The will of the people: Comedy and the comic persona in Shakespeare's sonnets

Date
1991-12-30
Authors
Ormond, Deborah B.
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Abstract

This study is premised on the thesis that, despite critical observations to date, comedy exists in William Shakespeare's sonnet sequence. To substantiate this claim, the study explicates five sonnets, numbers 104, 91, 138, 143, and 130. For social and literary context, the study relies on two seminal works, a sociological treatise examining the play element in culture by Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens, and a critical treatise examining modes of literature by Northrup Frye, Anatomy of Criticism. Selected sonnets are analyzed according to criteria set forth by these authors to determine if the poems present speakers or heroes whose attitudes and preoccupations and powers of action and expression match Huizinga's and Frye's conceptions of il.QlliQ ludens and the comic hero, respectively. The study concludes that the voice of man the player and "Everyman" are present in these sonnets. These works, therefore, represent examples of Shakespeare's comic vision and are vital to the overall impact of the sequence as a complete chronicle of the whole of human experience.

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Keywords
Language, literature, and linguistics, William Shakespeare, British and Irish literature, Social sciences, Psychology, Social structure
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