Wrong Genre Savvy/Theatre
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- Rodrigo of Othello fits this on two levels. He thinks he's the rake protagonist who seduces the pretty young wife of an old man, but he's actually more like a Casanova Wannabe-type who gets conned by the conniving servant. Making things worse is that he's in a tragedy, not a comedy, and the conniving servant is Iago.
- Lampshaded in Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods — when the Baker's Wife is being seduced by Cinderella's Prince, she sings, "This is ridiculous, what am I doing here, I'm in the wrong story..."
- The Narrator suffers from this worse. He thought he was in a classic fairy tale and his job was to tell the story from the safe side of a thick fourth wall.
- In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Anthony thinks that he's the hero who rescues the beautiful maiden who's been locked in a tower by an evil old man. Unfortunately, he's in a Stephen Sondheim musical ...
- In the 18th century play Nathan the Wise, Nathan's servant Daya is reasonably savvy of the "Columbine" role in commedia del'arte and thus sees it as her duty to find a mate for Nathan's daughter. However, the young crusader that Daya tries to fix up with the daughter turns out to be the daughter's long-lost brother. In commedia del'arte, this kind of Contrived Coincidence is fairly common, so you could say that the guy would either be the love interest or the long-lost brother, and Daya made the wrong conclusion. There's also an aspect that although Daya knows that Nathan is a nice guy, she has antisemitic prejudices, and thus tends to act like the play she is in is The Merchant of Venice.
- Polonius in Hamlet thinks he's in a Star-Crossed Lovers comedy, where every problem is caused by unrequited love and can be solved with eavesdropping. Unfortunately for him, he's in a revenge tragedy. As with Rodrigo, he fits a commedia del'arte stock character who happens to be in a tragedy (Rodgrigo is a Captain/Miles Gloriosus type, and Polonius is the Pantalone/Dottore character).
- Deconstructed with Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, who doesn't realise he's in a romantic comedy, and winds up derailing the plot into a tragedy with his killing of Mercutio.
- A large fraction of the characters in Little Shop of Horrors are Wrong Genre Savvy. The main character, Seymour, and his employer Mr. Mushnik, think they're in a rags-to-riches story. Seymour's love interest, Audrey, thinks she's in a romance. Orin seems to think that he's a Bastard Boyfriend, or perhaps the player character of a videogame.
- In Cromwell by Victor Hugo, Rochester, one of the men who conspires against Cromwell, thinks he's in a romance, and that his forbidden love with Cromwell's daughter will prevail. Unfortunately for him, he's in a political drama and she never noticed that he existed.
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