COMEDY , thegeneral
See also:term applied to a type of drama the chief
See also:object of which, according to
See also:modern notions, is to amuse . It is contrasted on the one
See also:hand with tragedy and on the other with
See also:farce, burlesque, &c . As compared with tragedy it is distinguished by having a happy ending (this being considered for a long
See also:time the essential difference), by
See also:quaint situations, and by lightness of
See also:dialogue and character-
See also:drawing . As compared with farce it abstains from crude and boisterous jesting, and is marked by some subtlety of dialogue and plot . It is, however, difficult to draw a hard and fast
See also:line of demarcation, there being a distinct tendency to combine the characteristics of farce with those of true comedy . This is perhaps more especially the case in the so-called " musical comedy," which became popular in
See also:Great Britain and
See also:America in the later 19th century, where true comedy is frequently subservient to broad farce and spectacular effects . The word " comedy " is derived from the Gr . Kwµc La, which is a compound either of KW/.WS (revel) and aoo5OS (
See also:singer; ?taLlsw, gSecv, to sing), or of KWµa7 (
See also:village) and aouSos: it is possible that Kiauos itself is derived from KW Ln, and originally meant a village revel . The word comes into modern usage through the
See also:Lat. comoedia and Ital. commedia . It has passed through various shades of meaning . In the
See also:middle ages it meant simply a
See also:story with a happy ending . Thus some of
See also:Chaucer's Tales are called comedies, and in this sense
See also:Dante used the term in the title of his poem, La Commedia (cf. his Epistola X., in which he speaks of the comic
See also:style as " loquutio vulgaris, in qua et mulierculae communicant "; again " comoedia vero remisse et humiliter "; "differt a tragoedia per hoc, quod t. in principio est admirabilis et quieta, in
See also:fine sive exitu est foetida et horribilis ") .
Subsequently the term is applied tomystery plays with a happy ending . The modern usage combines this sense with that in which
See also:Renaissance scholars applied it to the
See also:ancient comedies . The adjective " comic " (Gr . KwµuKOS), which strictly means that which relates to comedy, is in modern usage generally confined to the sense of "
See also:laughter-provoking": it is distinguished from " humorous " or " witty " inasmuch as it is applied to an incident or remark which provokes spontaneous laughter without a
See also:mental effort . The phenomena connected with laughter and that which provokes it, the comic, have been carefully investigated by psychologists, in contrast with other phenomena connected with the emotions . It is very generally agreed that the predominating characteristics are incongruity or contrast in the object, and
See also:shock or emotional seizure on the
See also:part of the subject . It has also been held that the feeling of superiority is an essential, if not the essential, factor: thus
See also:Hobbes speaks of laughter as a " sudden
See also:glory." Physiological explanations have been given by
See also:Spencer and Darwin . Modern investigators have paid much
See also:attention to the origin both of laughter and of smiling, babies being watched from
See also:infancy and the date of their first smile being carefully recorded . For an admirable analysis and account of the theories see
See also:James Sully, On Laughter (1902), who deals generally with the development of the "
See also:instinct " and its emotional expression . See DRAMA; also
See also:CARICATURE; PLAY, &C .
COMBUSTION (from the Lat. comburere, to burn up)
COMENIUS (or KOMENSKY), JOHANN AMOS (1592-1671)
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