Research papers on Shakespearean comedies are marked by many factors. The research papers point out that Shakespeare has a specific intention: to provide “merriment and gaiety untinged with any shadow of unhappy implication” ( “Twelfth Night”). The comedies are never based in reality, but rather complete fictions, often incorporating fantasy and giant suspensions of disbelief, such as in the case of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” which is populated by magic-performing fairies. Other Shakespearean comedies which employ the improbable include “Twelfth Night,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “A Comedy of Errors,” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” Term papers reveal that each of these plays maintain characters that are sympathetic and entertaining; even the villains are amusing and the audience wishes no real harm or punishment to come to him. And, ultimately, all of the comedies end happily – more often than not, with a romantic union and celebration – with no remaining loose ends. Thus, the Shakespearean comedy is defined in a literature term paper by its tone of merriment and gaiety, fiction, sympathetic characters, and a happy ending.
Shakespeare’s comedies are about mistaken identity. The comedic element results largely from inside information that the audience, but not the characters, is privy to. In many of his comedies, he employs the device of disguise in order to both heighten the intricacies of the plot, and further the comedy of errors. In four of his comedies—A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, and Much Ado About Nothing—characters are not what they appear to be. In three of the plays, people are literally disguised. In all of the plays, characters are not who they seem; idiots prove wise, and brothers prove false. It is this misdirection in identity that fuels the humor.