Anti-Comedy in The Two Noble Kinsmen

Roger Holdsworth


This essay takes further the view of recent critics that The Two Noble Kinsmen, a late collaboration between Shakespeare and John Fletcher, differs in fundamental ways from the other comedies of the period, including those of its two authors. The departures from the conventions of romantic comedy are deliberate, radical, and systematic, and bring the play closer to the satirical tragedies of John Webster, performed just a few years earlier, than to anything resembling Shakespeare’s standard comic practice. The authors reject the optimism and festive atmosphere of comedy in favour of a bleaker vision, in which human beings are at the mercy of chance, and incapable of understanding themselves or making sense of the world around them. 

Keywords: Comedy, Tragicomedy, Fletcher, Collaboration, Romances 

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