THEA 1314 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Gallows Humor, Tragic Hero, Verse (Poetry)

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22 Feb 2020
Types and Forms of Plays
Forms of Plays
Tragedy : the human struggle with the inevitability of our fate
o Traditional Tragedy
Aristotle said : tragedy = the purgation (to expel) of pity and fear
Audience feels catharsis (release of emotional tension)
Comes from Greek work tragoidia = the Goat Song
Tragic hero, or protagonist, who possesses:
Hubris - excess of good
Hamartia - tragic flaw
High status in society
The antagonist (opposes the protagonist) is larger than life - gods, ghosts, fate
The language is elevated - often in verse (poetry)
o Modern Tragedy
Difference from traditional tragedy :
Focus is on the hero's journey
About ordinary people with average dreams
Hero acts on impulse rather than for the greater good
Comedy : explores the humorous view of life
o Defining comedy
Comes from Greek work komoidia meaning "revel song"
Aristotle believed that comedy should renew humanity
o Traits of a Comedy
Protected world
Absence of serious pain
Energy and physicality
Happy / hopeful ending
Not always uproariously funny
o Types of comedies
Idea - highest form, wrestles with the serious question in life in a comedic way
Character - humor from persona(s) invented by an actor(s) [often includes
Manners -humor from satire of the behavior of certain social classes (usually upper
class because of their power)
Situation - absurd situation; sitcom
Farce - low comedy, broad comedy about ridiculous situations (often includes
misunderstandings and misconceptions, lots of physical humor)
Dark comedy
Darkness of life
Human existence is ironic and suffering is absurd
"gallows humor"
Tragicomedy : combination of tragedy and comedy
o Usually a serious play with a happy ending
o Tragic play with comic elements
o Stock characters - characters based on stereotypes
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