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Golden Comedies (Shakespeare)

by Conferences

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The Golden Comedies

A comedy without jokes is unthinkable. However, comedy is far more than a mere sequence of witticisms. At the heart of any comedy worthy of the name lies social conflict, in which an individual seeking his own advantage is pit against the common good of the society in which he lives. Yet, somehow, society and the individual resolve their disagreement to everyone’s advantage, usually culminating in joyful marriages for all involved. William Shakespeare’s famous comedies reach their apex with Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night, known collectively as the “Golden Comedies.” These masterful works provide a brilliant commentary on human nature and social interaction, teaching many valuable life lessons to the audience. They are also riotously funny, featuring some of the best jokes ever written. In these conferences, Dr. David Allen White thoroughly explains and elucidates Shakespeare’s comic masterpieces in his characteristically engaging style.

Much Ado About Nothing

A felicitous engagement and social concord quickly unravel under the influence of eavesdropping, slander, and deceit, exacerbated by the inconstancy of men. The final resolution in marriage can only be achieved by reestablishing the hierarchical order: men must act like men and combat injustice, the younger generation must heed its elders, and the advice of a friar, the man of God, must be followed. Once the irresolute men mend their ways, the play concludes in the joy of marriage for many characters.

As You Like It

An apparently insignificant title gives a real clue to a principal theme of this play: making choices about how to live in the world. A pastoral play, it takes place in the forest, where men, including a deposed duke, are fleeing from their oppressive brothers. The duke’s daughter, Rosalind, disguises her real identity and a cynical philosopher utters, “All the world’s a stage…” The theme of conversion runs throughout, and in the end, the characters make the right choices, concord resumes between bothers, the duke is restored, and marriages ensue.

Twelfth Night

This play’s secondary title, What You Will, indicates that many of its characters are strong willed people blinded by their own self-love. Two well-balanced persons, Festy, a clown, and Viola, a young lady who disguises herself as a man after being shipwrecked in a strange county, help their companions to overcome their selfish willfulness. A forged letter, a case of mistaken identity, and some yellow stockings stand in the way. But once the proper vision of life and love has been restored, conflict resolves in―of course―multiple marriages.


released April 15, 2015

About the Commentator

Some men are born to teach. They have a breadth of vision of their subject and a gift to communicate effortlessly to their students the knowledge which they have attained. Dr. David Allen White is such a man.

Born to Protestant parents, he was first given a love of literature by a Catholic elementary teacher. He followed this love to college, where he got a B.A. in 1970 at the University of Minnesota an an M.A. the following year at the University of Wisconsin. While pursuing his Ph.D., he received the grace to accept the true Faith and converted on the Feast of St. Nicholas, 1979.

After receiving his doctorate from Indiana University in 1981, he was hired at the US Naval Academy, where he received the Outstanding Teacher Award in 1996. More importantly, he has been the instrument by which God drew more than 70 young cadets to the Traditional Catholic Faith.

He retired in January 2009 and is currently enjoying a well earned retirement between intermittent guest lectures.



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