The plot and development are fairly standard for a Shakespeare play. It doesn’t approach the austere grandeur of the tragedies, nor does it reach the joyful hilarity of Much Ado About Nothing. Nonetheless, it’s ending ranks with the best. This review, or rather notes about play, relies heavily upon Richard Cody’s The Landscape of the Mind: Pastoralism and Platonic Theory in Tasso’s Aminta and Shakespeare’s Early Comedies.
Theme of pastoralism. Cody suggests that Renaissance man saw fields, creatures, gardens as mirrors of higher Platonic mysteries (Cody 82). He suggests that Tasso’s Aminta set the pattern for this comedy. This pastoralism aims to wed the Socratic “idea of the good life with the Renaissance literary myth of the courtier-lover-poet” (83).
Cody defines Shakespearean pastoralism as “a mythopoeic rite in which symbolic figures collectively enact a mystery of the love passion” (94).
Cody suggests that the references to love should be read as Neo-Platonic Eros
Idea of Folly = virtu di pazzia, courtliness of the folly of loving (cf. 1.1.20-23).
Sub-theme of “reconciliation of opposites,” such as Proteus and Valentine.
Cody sees a Neo-Platonic reditus in this play. There is a “rhythm of procession, rapture, and return (emanatio, raptio, remeatio)” (Cody 90).