The Comic


The Comic Essay, Research Paper

Richard Brown

Final Exam: The Comic

1.Irony. The use of words to express a different meaning than they are used for literally.

In Shakespeare?s play Twelfth Night he incorporates the use of irony in many of his scenes. Act II Scene 3.

TOBY. A false conclusion; I hate it as an unfilled can. To be up after midnight, and to go to bed then, is early; so that to go to bed after midnight is to go to bed betimes. Does not our lives consist of the four elements?

ANDREW. Faith so they say; but I think it rather consists of eating and drinking.

TOBY. Thou?rt a scholar! Let us therefore eat and drink. Marian I say! A stoup of wine!

Shakespeare uses irony here when Toby calls Andrew a scholar, meaning something totally different.

Satire. Something written in order to attack someone?s shortcomings using irony or wit.

In Jonathan Swift?s “A Modest Proposal” satire is used in order to draw attention to the plight of the Irish people under the rule of England. “I have been assured by a very knowing American of my Acquaintance in London; that a young healthy Child, well nursed, is at a year old, a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food?” Jonathan Swift attacks England?s treatment of the poor people of Ireland.

Travesty. An exaggerated representation of someone else?s work.

Lady Mary Wortley Montague?s “The Reasons that Induced Dr.S[wift] to write a Poem called the Lady?s Dressing Room.

“The Doctor in a clean starch?d band, His Golden Snuff box in his hand,?” Montague takes the style of writing from Swift and uses it to insult him.

Parody. A work that imitates someone?s style in a humorous way.

Henry Fielding in his work Joseph Andrews writes a parody of Homer?s The Iliad: The Shield of Achilles. “on its head was engraved a nose and chin, which might have been mistaken for a pair of nut crackers. The learned have imagined it designed to represent the Gorgon; but it was copied from the face of a certain long English baronet?” Fielding imitates Homer?s style when he explains the history of Joseph Andrews cudgel in opposition to how Homer explained the shield that Hephaestus makes. “And he forged on the shield a herd of longhorn cattle, working the bulls in beaten gold and tin, lowing loud and rumbling out of the farmyard dung?”

Camp. The appreciation of a certain style, that is considered vulgar by the mainstream, but is proposed in a serious fashion.

In John Waters writing of “The Filthiest People Alive” he talks about his experiences in the making of the film Pink Flamingos “?Now I Know I?m insane,? declared Divine as he spit out the last of the *censored* and made a mad dash for some mouthwash.” I don?t think this needs an explanation.

Grotesque. A bizarre, distorted representation of something.

A single quote to express the grotesque does not do it justice. Grotesque is beyond a single quote it is the representation of something that is not considered normal. “One time I got a woman?s glass eye this way.” In Flannery O?Connor?s short story “Good Country People” a traveling bible salesman seduces a woman in order to steal her wooden leg. This is grotesque because of the situation and the way the salesman goes about achieving his goal. The grotesque shows us something twisted something we have never before seen.

2. Aristotle and Ralph Ellison have very distinct views about the definition of comedy, they both make points as to what justifies it. The interpretations of both of them are similar in that in the end they both make the same conclusions even though they are generations apart. For an example I will take from “The Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift. “I HAVE been assured by a very knowing American of my Acquaintance in London; that a young healthy Child, well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome Food.”

Aristotle said that comedy was a form of imitation, in that we imitate either the virtues or vices of man. Swift does this in so far as he takes what is wrong with the society around him and draws from it. He imitates the vices England. Swift in effect uses the actions of England at the time to define his comedy.

Ellison talks about selecting an alternative identity, and changing who we are. “Wearing the Mask”. Ellison looks at this change as more than something superficial, he calls for us to look at the possibilities. Jonathan Swift does just that in a “Modern Proposal”. Swift moves from who he is and becomes a totally different being, he creates a character that is sincere in his beliefs. Swift defines his subject through himself in order to accomplish his goal.

Aristotle and Ellison both look on what is outside of themselves in order to define what comedy is. Aristotle and Ellison call for comedy to be defined through something other than what we alone pocess. While they are similar they also differ in the interpretation that while Aristotle calls for imitation, Ellison calls for complete change.

3.Marriage is a suitable ending in not only comedy but in any work, because it signifies the end and the beginning. In the works that we have read this term concerning Marriage, it is the all consuming goal of many of the characters. In Jane Austen?s Pride and Prejudice it is looked at as the one thing that a woman has to achieve in order to be considered successful. From a different perspective in Oscar Wilde?s play The Importance of Being Earnest we see the same determination to be wed from men.

Pride and Prejudice looks at marriage as a means to an end by many of the characters in the book. The majority of the women are far less concerned with who they are marrying than they are with the prospect of not being married. The opinion of marriage seems to be very high in this work. The virtue of being in love with whomever you want to be with is expressed in a greater degree. Austen uses the contrasting virtues of the characters in the book to explain what is truly important. Lydia marries to be married first and doesn?t look at reasons or consequences. Elizabeth on the other hand refuses proposals of marriage twice in an effort to be true to herself. Austen puts the subject of marriage in an austere light. She allows the reader to abhor the immoral methods and reasons for getting married without taking away what it should truly mean.

In Oscar Wilde?s play The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde takes the subject of marriage and takes it over the top. The characters are consumed with achieving matrimony and are willing to go to any extreme in order to achieve it. The two main characters Jack and Algernon both arrive at their engagement by deceiving their would be fianc?es in order to get married. Jack lies about who he is (Ernest) in order to have fun on the weekends in the city with Algernon and makes up a brother in order to not have to answer questions of his whereabouts from his ward (Cecily). Algernon in turn lies and says he?s Jack?s brother (Earnest) in order to get a look at Jack?s ward. Jack and Algernon both try to change their names when the women they “love” express their affection of the prospect of being married to an “Earnest”. Wilde takes a much different view of marriage than Austen he attacks the expression of love in his work making it out to be ridiculous.

Austen?s characters have had their hardships by the end of the novel. They have loved and lost from Jane?s perspective, they have stayed true to who they are from Elizabeth?s, and they have made mistakes, as in the case of Lydia. Wilde?s characters are forever making mistakes in form and judgement. Wilde uses marriage in order to end what is absurd. Austen uses marriage in order to begin anew.

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