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A kind of drama which begins with misfortune or discord but ends in happiness. Its aim is to correct the follies and frivolities of the individuals of a particular society through laughter and ridicule. Aristophanes, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and Bernard Shaw are among the best-known comedy writers. There are of various types of comedy: romantic comedy, comedy of senses of humour, comedy of manners, Restoration comedy, tragi-comedy, burlesque, farce, black-comedy, high comedy, low comedy, comedy of ideas, etc. A few of them are discussed here:

Romantic Comedy 

A form of comedy which deals with love, often love at first sight, as its main theme. It starts with some problems that make the union of the lovers difficult but ends with their happy union. Shakespeare's As You Like It is a romantic comedy.

Comedy of Humours

A comedy in which characters behave according to their respective humour ----the four fluids of human body. Ben Jonson's Every Man in His Humour and Every Man Out of His Humour are two famous comedies of this type. (see Humours)

Comedy of Manners

A comedy which portrays the ridiculous behaviour pattern of the individuals of an aristocratic society. It is concerned with the coarseness, immorality, faithlessness, jealousy, intrigue, etc. of an artificial society. Congreve's The Way of the World and Sheridan's The School for Scandal are examples of it.

Restoration Comedy

A kind of comedy written in the Restoration Period (1660-1700). It is identical to the comedy of manners as it also ridicules the manners and conventions, the faithlessness and intrigues of the members of the upper class society of the Restoration Period of England. Wycherley, Etheredge, Congreve, Vanbrugh and Farquhar are the five famous writers of the Restoration comedy. Farquhar's The Recruiting Officer, Congreve's Love for Love and The Double Dealer and Vanbrugh's The Provoked Wife are bright examples of the Restoration comedy.

Tragi- Comedy

A kind of play in which tragic and comic scenes are mingled. It violates the classical rules of writing pure tragedy or pure comedy on the logic that human life is neither absolutely sad nor absolutely happy. According to the classical theory of drama grand themes and upper class characters are appropriate to tragedy; low subjects and low people are fit for comedy. A typical tragedy needs a grave development of the plot which usually results in death. Quite opposite to it, a typical comedy needs a light development of the plot which ends in happiness. But there are plays in which low and high characters act together, light and grave events happen in the same plot, or death and marriage take place almost simultaneously. Such a play is called tragi-comedy. Typical examples of the tragi-comedy are Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, Cymbeline and The Tempest, Dryden's Secret Love, and the like.

Black - Comedy or Dark- Comedy

A kind of drama which portrays the meaninglessness of human existence. It reflects the world view that life is a "tragic farce" because it is controlled by fate or fortune. So this kind of comedy laughs at human predicament which hide a bitter frustration. Black-comedy is identical to dark-comedy. Pinter's The Homecoming, Joseph Heller's Catch-22, Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, The Winter's Tale and Joe Orton's Loot are examples of black-comedy or dark-comedy.

Comedy of Ideas

A from of comedy which presents certain ideas or theories through debate. Shaw's Man and Superman and The Apple Cart are examples of it

High Comedy

A kind of comedy of manners which demands a certain urbane taste and intellectual effort on the part of the audience. Shakespeare's As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, Shaw's Pygmalion and Congreve's The Way of the World are a few examples of the high comedy.

Low Comedy

A from of crude comedy which uses quarrelling, fighting, coarse joking, clownishness and the like, to provoke cheap laughter. Low comedy is not recognized as a separate type of comedy but is found with various types of comedy or tragedy. The porter scene in Macbeth and the brothel scene in Pericles are examples of low comedy.


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