Tragedy or Comedy

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					Tragedy or Comedy?
• French: meaning “category” or “type”
• Best known: Tragedy and Comedy
• Greeks first made the clear distinction
  between the two genres: a mask for
  comedy and a mask for tragedy
• Serious drama involving important
  personages caught in calamitous
• Prominent in Greece in 5th Century B.C.E.
  and the Renaissance
        Traditional Tragedy
• Tragic Heroes and Heroines
• The Hero is generally a king, a queen, a
  general, a member of nobility. A Person of
• Central character is caught in a set of
  tragic circumstances
• The universe seems to trap the hero or
  heroine in a fateful web.
          Traditional Tragedy
• Tragic Irretrievability: The tragic situation
  becomes irretrievable: there is no turning back,
  no way out.
• No honorable avenue of escape; they must go
  forward to meet their tragic fate.
• Acceptance of Responsibility: Hero/Heroine
  accepts responsibility for actions—recognizes
  fault of character that leads to the tragic
         Traditional Tragedy
• Tragic Verse: Language of traditional
  tragedy is verse.
• Verse: poetic
• Prose: Paragraph form
• The effect of tragedy: Pessimistic?
          Modern Tragedy
• The Common Man
• Written in Prose
• Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
• Humorous drama whose characters,
  actions and events are intended to
  provoke amusement and laughter.
• Aristophanes: Lysistrata ( Classical
• Moliere: The Imaginary Invalid (17th
  Century France)
    Characteristics of Comedy
• Suspension of Natural Laws: In comedy, we do
  not fear for a person who trips and
  falls…banana peels, slapsticks,
• Contrast between Individuals and the Social
  Order: the differences between basic
  assumptions about society and the events in the
  play. A ridiculous person in a normal world or
  vice-versa. Tartuffe by Moliere
• The comic premise: an idea or concept that
  turns the accepted notion of thing upside down.
         Forms of Comedy
• Farce: all forms of exaggeration—broad
  physical humor, plot complications,
  stereotyped characters. Simply for
  entertainment and laughter.
• Bedroom Farce: marriage and sex are
  objects of fun
           Forms of Comedy
• Burlesque: physical humor, gross
  exaggerations, occasional vulgarity. Historically
  an imitation of other forms of drama: Austin
  Powers and Scary Movie. Also became a term
  in the U.S. describing variety shows with “low”
  Comedy and attractive, half dressed women.
• Satire: uses wit, irony and exaggeration to
  expose or attach evil and foolishness.
  Chappelle’s Show, Mad TV, SNL
 Forms of Comedy: Domestic Comedy

• Deals with family and family situations.
• Found mostly in today’s Situation
  Comedies (Sitcoms)
• Can be families, neighborhoods, co-
Forms of Comedy: Comedy of Manners

• Focused on pointing out the peculiarities
  of the upper class.
• Stresses the use of witty phrases and
  comebacks rather than the use of physical
                Extra Terms
• Low Comedy: Physical humor. Three Stooges.
• Bathroom Humor: bodily functions
• High Comedy: Brainy. Witty phrases and
• Puns: A dieter doesn’t like food to go to waist.
• Malapropism: the use of a word sounding
  somewhat like the one intended but ludicrously
  wrong in the context