Home  »  Volume V: English THE DRAMA TO 1642 Part One  »  § 11. Beginnings of dramatic criticism

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

VI. The Plays of the University Wits

§ 11. Beginnings of dramatic criticism

This play shows, too, as Gummere has pointed out, the peculiar subjective humour of Peele, which rests on “something more than a literal understanding of what is said and done, a new appeal to a deeper sense of humour.” He does not get his fun solely from time-honoured comic business, or clownery, but from dramatic irony in the contrast of romantic plot and realistic diction—indeed, by contrasts in material, in method, in characterisation and, even, in phrase. This is Peele’s contribution to that subtler sense of humour which we have noted in Lyly. In Lyly, it leads to high comedy: in Peele it finds expression in dramatic criticism.