Shakespeare’s Guide to Love: what would be in there?
What wouldn’t be in there is marriage. Shakespeare, our national playwright, is no poster boy for wedlock.
It has been noted many times that the only successful marriage in Shakespeare is that of the Macbeths. At least they talk to each other. But is murder a good basis for marriage?
The women in Shakespeare invariably get the worst of the marriage bargains, in the sense that their men are not their equals. In the comedies, where everyone is supposed to have a merry dance and live happily ever after by act five, the future – that is, the married future – is left open to speculation. We must decide how things will work out according to the evidence offered by the play we have just seen. In the most pessimistic, All Well That Ends Well, the devoted Helena ends up with a shallow cad whose own mother can’t stand him