The English Comic Characters

The English Comic Characters

The English Comic Characters

The English Comic Characters

Excerpt

On any reasonable chronology of Shakespeare's plays, Bottom is the first of his great comic figures. Once we are through the door of Peter Quince's house, when all the company is assembled there, we are at last in the presence of one of the foolish Immortals; we come to celebrate a staggering feat of parturition, for here, newly created, is a droll as big as a hill. Before this, Shakespeare has shown us through a little gallery of amusing figures, but we have seen no one of the stature of "sweet bully Bottom." In The Comedy of Errors , the two Dromios and the rest are nothing but odd curves in a whimsical design. The comedians of Love's Labour's Lost are well enough in their way; the picked and spruce Don Armado, Holofernes with his "golden cadence of poesy," Sir Nathaniel and Moth, all capping one another's fantastic phrases; but they are little more than quaint shadows that caper for an hour or so on the sunlit lawns of that park in Navarre and then flit out of mind when the sun goes down. In The Two Gentlemen of Verona , Speed and Launce (and the dog) are not so much indi-

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