Generic decay: the deadly problems of All's well and comic convention

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Most often, critical concerns of comedy tend to overlook exactly what we mean by "comedy" or "the comic." Comedy is ill served primarily by the supposition that either the word itself refers to a genre or mode only, or rather that it only indicates some instance of laughter. In actuality, comedy may refer to either of these things within the proper context, amongst others. This multiplicity of meanings underlines a crucial point in generic study. Instances of the laughable should not be confined to comedy prohibitively, just as harrowing concepts such as melancholy, illness, and death must not be set apart from comedy and relegated to darker genres, such as tragedy. Shakespeare proves an excellent entry-point into the study of this principle. Comedy is, in fact, worthy of much more consideration than that of the type of play that is funny or happy. Shakespeare's willingness to test the boundaries of the genre helps to demonstrate the flexibility therein. Through meditation upon the underlying critical and philosophical principles of genre, explication of the boundaries between mode and tone, and reading several of Shakespeare's comedies, I attempt to prove the resilience of comedy to darker intonations.

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