History Boys Comedy?

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Comedy is used throughout the History Boys by Bennett via several main techniques such as parody, contrasting characters and their clever juxtapositions within the plot, intelligent metaphors, bathos and many more. Within Hector’s French lesson, the juxtaposition of Hector’s character immediately contrasts that of the headmasters greatly as soon as he walks in. Hector’s eccentricity and liberal character contrasted with Felix’s strict adherence to rules, regulations and formality with Hector interrupting Felix’s dialogue “Mr Hector, I hope I’m not. . .” (using the verb “hope” to show a formal register) with the informal gesture that is what Bennett describes as “an admonitory finger.” The use of the adjective “admonitory” there comically reverses the power balance between the two characters, with Hector playfully showing that he has authority in his lessons, much to the dismay of the headmaster who feels both humiliated and challenged enough to try and speak French. The submission of the headmaster expressed by doing so is a comical element in itself because he Headmaster finds difficulty in speaking French, having to hesitate and show non- fluency features in “Pourqoui cet garcon . . . Dakin , isn’t it? . . .est sans ses trousers?” having to code switch back to English with the simple concrete noun “trousers” for lack of knowledge and the use of ellipsis to show low confidence or knowledge in the subject. This arouses not pathos in the audience but rather an idea that the headmaster is a subject of mockery because of his unlikable character. This unlikable character is emphasised later in the episode with the Headmaster using the negative adjective “silliness” to describe the exercise that had proceeded and then taking back what he had said, saying “not silliness” showing that he is insincere with what he says to the boys in order to encourage them with their
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