"Shakespeare’s type of romantic comedy follows a tradition established by Greene and Lyly, which has affinities with the medieval tradition of the seasonal ritual-play. We may call it drama of the green world, its plot being assimilated to the ritual theme of the triumph of life and love over the waste land.
The green world charges the comedies with the symbolism of the victory of summer over winter.
The green world has analogies, not only to the fertile world of ritual, but to the dream world that we create out of our own desires. This dream world collides with the stumbling and blinded follies of the world of experience, of Theseus’ Athens with its idiotic marriage law, of Duke Frederick and his melancholy tyranny, of Leontes and his mad jealousy, of the Court Party with their plots and intrigues, and yet proves strong enough to impose the form of desire on it. Thus Shakespearean comedy illustrates, as clearly as any mythos we have, the archetypal function of literature in visualizing the world of desire, not as escape from “reality”, but as the genuine form of the world that human life tries to imitate."
Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism