Comic Procedures in Shakespeare and Jonson: Much Ado About Nothing and The Alchemist

  • F. H. Mares
Part of the The Humanities Research Centre/Macmillan Series book series (HRC)


Contrasts between Shakespeare and Jonson have frequently been drawn, from their day to this. Indeed, the process was perhaps inaugurated by Jonson himself, with the critical allusions in some of his prefaces, the famous ‘Shaksperr wanted Arte’ recorded by Drummond of Hawthornden, the generous praise of his poem in the 1623 Folio and other such comments. My excuse for continuing the process is not to assess one against the other. That is not a very interesting procedure. I shall attempt to illuminate a little the nature of the artefact each produces by making comparisons of the way each deploys and develops in his comedy certain procedures which are common to both. It is reasonable, I think, to make some surmises about the way these procedures so deployed and developed may direct the responses — emotional, intellectual or moral — of the spectator or reader. Such effects may not correspond very closely with the expressed aims of the playwright, if these are available — as in Jonson’s case at least, they are.


Roman Child Painful Situation Stage Direction Romance Narrative Deliberate Deception 
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  1. 5.
    Herbert Read, ‘The Personality of the Poet’, in Collected Essays in Literary Criticism (London, 1951) pp. 21–40.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    H. B. Charlton, ‘The Consummation’, in Shakespearian Comedy (London, 1938) pp. 277–8.Google Scholar

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© Australian National University 1983

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  • F. H. Mares

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