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ure consists in his retributive deception; his passion spreads the net in which he is caught. He is outwitted at his own game, tricked with his own cunning; his fine-spun intrigue simply entangles himself. But the personal trait which gave him most pleasure was his cunning, and, hence, he does not hesitate to attempt carrying out his monstrous scheme. Bitter is his confession: “ See now how wit may be made a Jack-alent when 'tis upon ill employment.” It is, indeed, bis deepest humiliation that his cunning has been unable to save him from this supreme disgrace. “ Have I laid my brain in the sun and dried it that it wants matter to prevent so gross o'er-reaching as this?” It has all been done, too, by rude country bumpkins, men and women, honest people, but merry. He belongs, in this play at least, to Involuntary Comedy of Character; he pursues,anutter.delusion without knowing it; the solution is that he be brought to a complete consciousness of what-he-has been doing, and of the absurd nature of his conduct. This is the comic retribution which here overtakes him. Nor does he fail to declare the moral of his story: “ This is enough to be the decay of lust and late walking through the realm.”

Thus the two groups have removed the obstacles which stood in the way of the Family, and harmony has been attained. The Merry Wives have vindicated their integrity and puinshed the

aggressors; particularly Mrs. Ford is the strong character who has defended her domestic honor against the assaults from within and from without. Mistress Anne Page has triumphed over the schemes of her parents, and is joined in wedlock to the chosen one of her heart. In both cases — before and after marriage – the principle of the Family is yictorious. On the whole, it is. a Comedy of Situation, or rather of situations; the disguise of Ford is one side of the intrigue, and the simulation of the Merry Wives is its other side ; while the thread of Mistress Anne Page has also its concealments. Still, the whole action does not turn round a masked individual it is made up of a series of tricks and deceptions.

With this drama the treatment of the Pure Comedies of Shakespeare is brought to a conclusion. It will be seen that the ethical sphere in which they all are placed is the Family, though other elements may, for ā short time, shine in upon the main current of the action. The dramatic structure, too, is observed to be fundamentally the same in all; the threads and movements are the lines upon which the play must be followed if we wish to reach the conception of the Author. These are, indeed, the web and woof of which the close, yet varied, texture of the work is composed; around these must be grouped the characters, which are thus shown at once in their relation to the rest of the play and in their

inner development. If the critic merely picks out and describes in succession the separate persons, the living movement of the whole and its parts are lost; the gradual evolution of individual character disappears from the mind, or is grasped as a dead result; while the structural principle of the drama utterly perishes. A critical method which leaves out any essential element of Shakespeare is manifestly imperfect; and it ought to be added that a critical method which injects any foreign element into Shakespeare is unquestionably vicious.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.

This play connects on many sides with other plays of Shakespeare. The grouping of the characters in pairs we have noticed in earlier pieces; now it has almost a schematic regularity. Still this is so deftly concealed with life and movement that we do not notice it without special effort. Benedick and Beatrice are Petruchio and Katharine deepened and transformed. Hero, the gentle cousin, corresponds to the gentle sister Bianca in Taming of the Shrew, and to the gentle sister Luciana in Comedy of Errors. Around these gentle ones mainly the intrigue spins. The illegitimate Don John is related in circumstances and character to Edmund in Lear. The stupid officials producing comic effects through perverted English, have their counterparts in Merry Wives, and reach back to Love's Labor's Lost. The deep wrong to the woman from the one who ought to love and protect her, the supposed death of her in consequence, the bitter repentance of the wrong-doer, with the restoration of the lost one in the end, reach forward and connect this play with Winter's Tale, while Hero has traces of

the grand mediatorial woman, Hermione, who thwarts the hardest blow of fate by endurance.

Beatrice tries to be a mediator after her change from wit to love, and to restore Hero, but her success is doubtful, she is no Portia, no Rosalind; what she has done for herself, she cannot do for others. She is incapable of reaching the highest woman's height; her training to wit has unfitted her for the supreme gift of mediation. But to her credit it must be said that she has a noble impulse thereto, which in time may be realized. The most she can now do is to send her lover to fight a duel with the supposed injurer of Hero a very doubtful proceeding, which, if successful, could effect nothing. Her mediatorial act is but a piece of foolish good will.

There is a suddenness in the play which seems to belong to the South, a passionate intensity even among the older people, a flashing of wit and caprice which subjects everybody to deception; all live in a world of show, of the senses, and are easily swept off their feet by any delusive appearance. What seems to have caused this peculiar spiritual atmosphere at Messina ?

If we could catch the prevailing tone of this drama and put it in words, we would say that it shows the folly of wit. The character that seeks to unfold itself into satire, sarcasm, ridicule or even smartness of speech is a comic character, while trying to make the rest of the world comic;

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