Humor in a Midsummer Night's Dream

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Humor in A Midsummer Night’s Dream “The true test of comedy is that it shall awaken thoughtful laughter.” -George Meredith Introduction to Comedy: In comedy the appeals are made to the head, not to the heart. As audience members, the writer expects us to see the incongruity of an action. Comedy is based on the principle that no man knows who he is and that he cannot see his real mirror image but only what he wants to see. Irony* and incongruity* are the triggers of laughter. Reversal of roles, exaggerations, and understatement all surprise our mental expectations and make us see things differently. A good comedy has a strong emphasis on a character who is simplified in such a way that we can readily see what has made him a fool in other men’s eyes. We can see this if we understand what is considered normal behavior in the society reflected in the comedy. Norms are very important in comprehending comedy. Thus, the action in a comedy consists of a string of incidents that reveal the fool in situation after situation where he shows variations from what is considered normal behavior. Much of the fun of comedy consists of the reaction of the other characters to the behavior of the principal character. Often comedy ends in the marriage of the principal characters, the writer’s cue to us that order will be created and sustained now that the characters have wed. Wordplay: Oxymorons: The word oxymoron comes from the Greek meaning "pointedly foolish." Examples: Quince refers to the play of Pyramus and Thisbe as "the most lamentable comedy." (I.ii. Bottom says: "I'll speak in a monstrous little voice.”(I.ii. 43) Helena's oxymoron is in Act III, scene ii, line 129: "oh devilish- holy fray!" Theseus has a series of oxymorons in Act V, scene i: A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus
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