Characterization and structure in the development of Tudor comedy
The role of characterization in dramatic structure is assessed by theoretical criteria. Characters who perform actions necessary for the completion of the narrative sequence are said to be "bound" to the narrative; those without such obligations are "free". Characters who maintain a single, constant meaning during the course of a play are said to be "static"; characters who change or develop into new roles are "dynamic". Horatian decorum demanded that comic characters be static, and the characters of Plautine and Terentian tradition were almost always bound to narrative intrigue. However, evaluations of six Tudor comedies show an increasing use of non-classical characterization within the comic form. In the early comedies lohan lohan and Roister Doister all characters are bound and static, yet the impetus to enlarge the role of characterization is evident. The characters of lohan lohan are expanded from their French source, and Roister Doister includes extraneous episodes in which Udall displays his braggart hero. Free characters abound in Misogonus; as well the play brings dynamic characterization into the scope of comedy with the conversion of its prodigal son. Free characters offer new possibilities of non-narrative plotting. In comedies of the 1580s favourite traditional characters appear as diversions outside the action, and thematic arrangements of characters inform the increasingly complex plots. Lyly stresses the symbolic potential of characters in Endimion, whereas Greene uses dynamic characterization to heighten the illusion of independent figures in Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay. Love's Labour's Lost exposes the limitations of comic artifice by pulling the characters between convention and individualization. By the end of the sixteenth century free and dynamic characters had become common, and characterization had established a sizable claim on the design of English comedy. These developments set the English form apart from its neoclassical counterparts.