Shakespearean Mnemonics: Comedies

Published on Thursday, January 31, 2008 in , , , ,

William ShakespeareIf you've been practicing your Shakespearean histories and tragedies, you already know more than half of his plays! In this final installment, you'll learn to memorize all the comedies.

The 16 Shakespearean comedies are The Tempest, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Measure for Measure, The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing, Love's Labour's Lost, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew, All's Well That Ends Well, Twelfth Night, The Winter's Tale, Pericles, and The Two Noble Kinsmen. We'll use the same technique as was used in memorizing the tragedies.

When we last left our story, a leering king had landed at the feet of Antony and Cleopatra, who hit him down into a cymbal line, which should make you think of King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra and Cymbeline. It is from the cymbal that we will continue our rather weird story mnemonic for the comedies.

When the cymbal is picked up, we magically find a full cabinet-size arcade version of Tempest under it! To help make this image more memorable, make sure you have Java installed, and try out the video game for yourself.

Imagine that this Tempest video game is being played by two men dressed like they do at a Renaissance fair. These men are two gentlemen of Verona, and are endlessly pumping quarters into the video game. However, their wives, who are in Windsor Castle in similar dress, leave there to tell their husbands that video game time is up, laughing the whole time. These ladies would, of course, be the merry wives of Windsor.

The two gentlemen and their merry wives leave the arcade, and go to Love and Love Tailors (you'll see where this name comes in later) to get a new suit tailored for them. They go in, and both tailors start taking all the measurements possible, and writing them down measure for measure. Unfortunately, these two guys aren't very good tailors. They keep making one sleeve or pant leg too long, and mixing up the measurements. Initially, these mistakes seem like a Comedy of Errors, but our two gentlemen begin to get upset at these repeated mistakes.

The gentlemen and their wives leave the place without a tailored suit, making the visit prove to be much ado about nothing. Remember that they were called Love and Love Tailors? Despite all that bad work they did, they didn't make a sale, meaning that this was Love's Labours Lost. As the two couples leave, still dreaming of new suits, they realize it is a nice midsummer night. They continue to think about their suits as a midsummer night's dream, and finally decide to go someplace else.

At this point, we're halfway through the comedies, so it's a good time to review. What was under the cymbal? The Tempest video game. Who was playing it? Two Gentlemen of Verona. Who picked them up? The Merry Wives of Windsor. What did the tailors first do? Examine them Measure For Measure. How did it work out? It was a Comedy of Errors, turning into Much Ado About Nothing, resulting in Love's Labours Lost. What did the couples do after they left? Pondered their Midsummer Night's Dream.

The couples finally get an idea of where else to go, jump in the nearest canal, and swim to the Merchant of Venice (so, at this point, they really would need those new suits). This merchant makes the new suits right the first time, mentioning that the suit is just as you like it.

As they come out, we can now see that the couples are Petruchio and Kate, along with Lucentio and Bianca, from Taming of the Shrew. If you're not familiar with these characters from the play already, I can guarantee you'll never forget them after watching the Atomic Shakespeare episode of Moonlighting. Imagining Bruce Willis, Cybil Shepherd, Curtis Armstrong and Allyce Beasley as these characters will really make this image stand out!

As the Taming of the Shrew characters are finally ready for their night out, an accident happens - they all fall into a deep well! They can't get out, and the first night passes with no one coming by to help them. More nights pass, also with no one coming by. They nervously joke that all's well that ends (in the) well. Fortunately, they're saved on the twelfth night.

They're saved by none other than the Winter Warlock (or the reformed Winter Warlock, if you prefer). He mentions that he checks the well every so often, especially after what happened before. When they ask what happened before, he tells them a winter's tale. He explains that Pericles once fell in there, and was also stuck until the Twelfth Night (I repeat this part just to reinforce that play). He was finally rescued by two noble kinsmen.

Time for one last review! What was under the cymbal? Tempest, which is being played by . . . Two Gentlemen of Verona, who are married to The Merry Wives of Windsor. They go to the tailor, who takes things down Measure For Measure, and get involved in a Comedy of Errors, and this work eventually proves to be Much Ado About Nothing, resulting in Love's Labours Lost. The couple leaves with little more than A Midsummer Night's Dream, which makes them turn to The Merchant of Venice, who makes the suit As You Like It.

They come out dressed as the cast of Taming of the Shrew, ready for a night out, but they fall into a well, nervously joking that All's Well That Ends Well. They're rescued on the Twelfth Night, and learn from A Winter's Tale that this happened before to Pericles, who was rescued by The Two Noble Kinsmen.

If you practice and review that rather strange story a few times, you'll have all the Shakespearean comedies memorized! Combined with your knowledge of the tragedies and histories, you should now have the name of every Shakespeare play memorized! You should be able to get all 38 plays from the Shakespeare Quiz now!

Here are a few details I'd like to include before winding this series up. The First Folio of Shakespeare did not include the last two comedied, Pericles and The Two Noble Kinsmen. Also, memorizing this list can be an excellent starting point for learning more about Shakespeare and his plays. Now you know the names, what else can you learn about them? Why are William Shakespeare's plays so highly regarded, anyway? You're in for a great voyage of discovery, if you choose to take it.

I hope you've enjoyed this series, and found it useful and inspiring!

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2 Response to Shakespearean Mnemonics: Comedies

8:12 AM

I have a much easier (at least for me) mnmemonic for all 37 plays.

TAUNTED, AL'S HARMLESS CAT REX MEOWED Piteously When Lee Oswald Killed Jack Kennedy.

7 beginning with "T": Taming, Tempest, Timon, Titus, Troilus, Twelfth,Two Gentlemen

3 A's: As You Like It, Alls Well, Antony and

3 C's: Comedy, Coriolanus, Cymbeline

8 H's: Hamlet, H 8, H 4 (1,2), H5, H6 (1,2,3)

3 R's: Romeo, Rick 2, Rick 3

6 M's: Macbeth, Measure, Merry, Merchany, Midsummer, Much Ado

7 with first letters
Pericles, Winter's, Love's, Othello, K. Lear, Julius, K. John

10:06 PM