Elizabethan drama refers to Shakespeare and his great comic and tragic works. The Elizabethans were creative and original. For example, Shakespeare's comedies mix elements of farce, comedy of manners, romantic comedy, even what could be called black comedy, but they are rarely satirical in the sense of exposing the vices and follies of society with a view towards correcting them. On the contrary, in his Romantic comedies, Shakespeare places the hero and the heroine in difficult circumstances that bring them close to separation. Then, he settles the conflict and brings them close together. In his The Merchant of Venice, he showed Bassanio as unable to marry Portia because of his financial problems and because of the three caskets that her father devised before his death. Yet, even after choosing right and marrying her, the problems arise because his friend Antonio, the one who provided him with the money to woo Portia, is about to be killed because of this loan. Yet, after a series of funny and rather serious situations, Portia manages to save her husband’s dear friend, but she tries to tease Bassanio about a ring she has given him earlier. Thus, the play ends happily and all tensions are removed.
Comedy of Humours
The Comedy of Humours, on the other hand, was the specialty of Shakespeare's rival, Ben Jonson. Jonson drew on the medieval doctrine of "humours," which held that each person’s character (and so each character in a play) is determined by a mixture of four bodily fluids: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile – as in Jonson's plays Every Man in his Humour and Every Man Out of his Humour. Comedy for Jonson is the exaggeration of these "humours," which are the human life forces. Today they might be called personality traits or emotional patterns, and they are not far removed from Aristotle's description of ugliness or imbalance in men's souls. Comedy therefore has a highly moral purpose, "to inform men in the best reason...