A drama is a composition presenting in dialogue, story, involving conflict or contrast of character, to be acted on stage. There are several genres of drama of which the two most important are tragedy and comedy.
Comedies were one of the two original play types of ancient Greece, along with tragedies. Even the symbol of theatre depicts one smiling face and another sad face – thus indicating the two basic genres. Comedy aims at entertaining the audience and makes them laugh by reassuring that no disaster will occur. However, the outcome of all possible conflicts will be positive for the characters involved. Or in other words, a comedy ensures a happy ending, mostly filled with witty remarks, unusual characters and strange circumstances. A good example of comedy is William Shakespeare’s play “A midsummer night’s dream”.
SUB GENRES OF COMEDY
The main purpose of comedy is to amuse the audience. Comedy has multiple sub genres depending upon the source of humor, the context in which the actors deliver dialogues as well as the delivery methods. Sub genres of comedy include :
Romantic comedy involves a theme of love leading to a happy conclusion. A pair or more of lovers and their struggle to come together is usually at the center of this type of comedy. Romantic comedies also often involves extra ordinary circumstances like magical dream, fairy lands, etc. Example of a romantic comedy is “As you like it” by William Shakespeare.
Satire has a critical purpose. The aim is not only to make people laugh with the characters but to laugh at them. It usually attacks philosophical notions or political practices as well as general deviations from the norms of the society by ridiculing the characters invlolved in the play. Ben Jonson’s ” The Alchemist ” is a classic example.
Comedy of manners
The comedy of manners is also satirical in its approach and it takes the artificial and sophisticated behavior of the higher social classes under close scrutiny. Concerned with social usage and the question of whether or not characters meet certain social standards.
Sentimental drama contains both comedy and Sentimental tragedy. This form, which incorporates scenes with extreme emotions evoking excessive pity, gained popularity among the middle class audiences in the 18th century.
Comedy has many functions, most importantly, to provide entertainment to the audience who laughs to no limit at the follies of the characters. Thus he feels jubilant and forgets the worries of his own life. Comedy being an important genre of drama is critical but never in a harsh way. There is no real contempt or anger in a comedy. Comedy exposes and ridicules stupidity and immortality, but without any wrath. Though comedy portrays social institutions and persons as corrupt and ridicules them through satirizing, parodying and poking fun at their vices, the primary function always is to amuse and entertain.
ESSENCE OF COMEDY
There are many characteristics that make up a comedy. Characteristics such as mistaken identity, battle of the sexes, jumping to conclusions are some factors that set comedy apart from tragedy. However much the confusions and obstacles, a comedy is typically characterized by the classic ending of “….and they lived happily ever after “. Each character in comedy has their own virtues and flaws and the viewers are often filled with a sense of compassion and love for the characters as they can relate to them easily. These characteristics make the comedies endearing to the audience.