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what is the difference between a comedy and a tragedy
s ridiculous as it may seem, we think that there is value in talking about the differences between tragedy and comedy. Both had their beginnings in the Greek theater thousands of years ago. Tragedy began about 535 B.C. [ to be followed by comedy around fifty years later. The Greeks somehow (erroneously) thought that laughter is not our first impulse, but obviously needed some relief from
tragedy. Tragic figures began as unique, idealized, almost God-like characters. They appeared to have everything going for them. Through no fault of their own they became victims of fate, an external enemy, or incredibly bad timing. What began as a seemingly happy life ended tragically. Ironically in tragedy there is always hope, up to the last minute and beyond, that somehow the tragic hero will prevail - but of course he/she never does. In comedy, on the other hand, the protagonist is an ordinary figure who experiences trouble early on in the narrative. The comic hero is much more flawed than the tragic hero. Paradoxically, comedy depends on tragedy, otherwise there would be no means to comment on the incongruity of the comic situation within the narrative. Like tragedy, "the best laid plans" go awry in comedy. "Another fine mess you've gotten us into Stanley!" is a metaphor not only for Laurel and Hardy, but also for all of comedy. In comedy these situations are usually of the protagonist's own making, while in tragedy, it's always someone else's fault. In comedy, predicaments are portrayed as having no way out. There is no hope. But things change just in the "nick" of time - often due to the flexibility (intentional or unintentional) of the hero's character. Both the great theater writer Walter Kerr and renowned humorist Annette Goodheart speak of Charlie Chaplin's movie, The Gold Rush, as being a prime example of the complementary forces of comedy and tragedy. Chaplin got the idea for the comedy from reading about the tragic experience of the Donner party; a group of pioneers that had lost their way in a blizzard in the Oregon Mountains. One hundred-sixty were trapped; eighteen survived. ]
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Asked 7/21/2012 3:36:15 PM
Updated 12/14/2012 2:30:01 PM
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