William Shakespeare

Romance

The First Folio separates Shakespeare’s plays into just three genres: histories, comedies, and tragedies. In the centuries following the publication of the Folio, scholars suggested that these three categories are insufficient to describe all the plays. In the nineteenth century, the critic Henry Dowden suggested a fourth category, Romance. Today, scholars use the term “romance” to describe three plays Shakespeare wrote at the end of his career. The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale were designated comedies in the First Folio, while the third, Cymbeline , was originally designated a tragedy. Two plays they believe Shakespeare co-wrote, Pericles and The Two Noble Kinsmen, are also generally classified as romances. While these plays following the comedic conventions of mistaken identities, misunderstandings, separated lovers, and a wedding at the end, they are more complex than Shakespeare’s earlier comedies, and contain tragic elements as well. Romances also feature mystical elements and special effects, such as the storm at sea that opens The Tempest. While characters do fall in love and marry, these romantic relationships don’t drive the plot.

Shakespeare’s Romances: The Tempest , The Winter’s Tale , Cymbeline , Pericles , The Two Noble Kinsmen