''The Yeomen of the Guard, or, The Merryman and his Maid'' is an opera by Creator/GilbertAndSullivan. Though generally considered a "comic opera," it is notable as the team's [[SeriousBusiness most serious]] work. (Sir Henry Lytton wrote that Gilbert once told him that he had always intended Jack Point to die at the end, but had somewhat modified his intention due to the great comic reputation of George Grossmith, who originated the role.)

The central motif of the drama is said to have been suggested to Gilbert when he saw a Beefeater displayed on the advertisement of a London furniture moving company. His imagination took fire at the picturesque Tower of London setting, and he made a special study of Shakespearean language in order to create the proper feel for the period. The plot-device of the secret wedding may have been suggested by an earlier melodrama, ''Maritana'', itself based on a still earlier French play, ''Don César de Bazan''. However, neither of those sources have the eccentricity of character or the wit, grace, and occasional profundity of Gilbert's libretto, let alone the rich and glittering texture of Sullivan's outstanding score, "over which" (it has been said) "the [[{{Leitmotif}} motif]] of the Tower broods like a watchful giant."
!!Tropes present in this work:

* AbhorrentAdmirer:
** Sergeant Meryll has Dame Carruthers, whom he finds too old to be attractive.
** Phoebe has Wilfred Shadbolt, whom she detests for his occupation as jailer at [[UsefulNotes/BritishTouristAttractions the Tower of London]].
* AndNowYouMustMarryMe: Not one, but two major characters are forced into loveless marriages to [[AbhorrentAdmirer detested admirers]] who have enough dirt on them to get them executed. Marriage to said admirers is the price of their silence.
* DarkReprise: "I Have a Song to Sing, O!" first appears as an uplifting song and dance in the first act, with the (more depressing) first and third verses slightly altered for their reprise at the end.
* DarkerAndEdgier / DownerEnding: Most Gilbert and Sullivan plays end with all of the leads happily married off. In ''Yeomen'', two of the three marriages are [[AndNowYouMustMarryMe forced and loveless on one side]] and DoggedNiceGuy Jack Point appears to [[spoiler:die of a broken heart]] after his love interest is reunited with his rival.
* DoggedNiceGuy: Jack Point "is not yet married to Elsie Maynard, but time works wonders..."
* FaceDeathWithDignity: Fairfax, facing execution for a crime he did not commit, appears to have accepted his fate in his song, "Is Life a Boon?" In it, he notes that if life is good ("Is life a boon?") then it doesn't matter how much time people are given, they'll always want more; and if life is not good ("Is life a thorn?") then it's just as well to get it over with.
* ForDoomTheBellTolls: The finale of the first act employs the ensemble singing along as the bell tolls for Fairfax's execution.
* HealthcareMotivation: Elsie agrees to marry Fairfax because she needs the money for her sick mother.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: Sir Richard Cholmondeley was Lieutenant of the Tower of London from 1513 to 1520. [[note]]This indicates that the play is set early in the reign of King UsefulNotes/HenryVIII, although a reference to Anne Boleyn's execution suggests a date after 1536.[[/note]]
* {{Mondegreen}}: Anyone else hear the "love a heartless jade" line from "When Jealous Torments Rack My Soul" as "love a heartless jail"?
* MurderTheHypotenuse: Played with. Fairfax is the hypotenuse of not one but ''two'' love triangles (not to mention the center of a third). His rivals, Point and Wilfred, publicly claim to have killed him as he tried to swim across the Thames, reasoning that Fairfax can't contradict them without fatally blowing his cover.
** DeathOfTheHypotenuse: [[spoiler:Jack Point]].
* NeverSayDie: According to the stage directions, [[spoiler:Jack]] "falls insensible".
* OffstageVillainy: Fairfax's cousin and heir apparent, [[TheGhost Sir Clarence Poltwhistle]], has falsely accused Fairfax of sorcery in order to get his hands on his estates and fortune after his execution. It's Fairfax's determination to prevent this that sets up the play's DownerEnding.
* PairTheSpares: Subverted. The marriages that result do not appear happy, and Jack Point gets left out to dry.
* PatterSong: Jack Point has two, "I've Jibe and Joke" and "Oh, a Private Buffoon", as well as a patter duet with Wilfred in "Like a Ghost His Vigil Keeping". Sgt. Meryll and Dame Carruthers have a semi-patter duet in "Rapture, Rapture!"
* PlayingCyrano: Played with. Fairfax leads a quartet about how wooing has to be learned, with Jack Point eagerly hoping to apply this teaching to Elsie. Then Fairfax proposes to Elsie and sends Jack off.
* RagsToRoyalty: Elsie. Or at least from rags to prosperous upper class as Fairfax is indicated to have a considerable estate.
* SadClown: Jack Point, professional jester. The story doesn't end well for him, and some productions depict him as sickly.
* SheIsAllGrownUp: Played with. When Phbe greets Fairfax as "Leonard", he has no idea who she is. Upon learning that she's "his" sister, he exclaims, "Why, how you've grown! I did not recognise you!"
* ShownTheirWork: The Tower of London is guarded by the Yeomen of the Guard, not the Yeomen Warders, which didn't exist until 1548.
* SomethingCompletelyDifferent: ''Yeomen'' is very different from Creator/GilbertAndSullivan's other collaborations, to accommodate Sullivan's desire to do more serious work. ''Yeomen'' is much darker in tone than other G&S works; it's an outright tragedy instead of the usual light comedy, with a {{downer ending}} instead of the usual armload of marriages; it alone has no satire of British institutions; it alone has a cast that includes someone who [[HistoricalDomainCharacter actually existed]]; it alone starts with a solo instead of the usual chorus; and it alone has an opera-style overture instead of the usual medley of tunes from the show.
* SoUnfunnyItsFunny / IncrediblyLamePun: Jack Point's attempts to impress the Lieutenant are this.
* TalkingInYourSleep: Kate hears Elsie talking in her sleep, and learns important information from it.
* YeOldeButcheredeEnglishe: Averted, for the most part; as mentioned above, Gilbert made a special study of Elizabethan language to get it right. [[note]]There is question regarding Gilbert's use of the word, "mickle", which has one meaning in one dialect and the opposite meaning in another.[[/note]]