A consideration of the history of dramatic literature will show that comedy of this standard is very infrequent indeed, since the humorous piece is always tending either to stiffen into drama, as in FROUFROU, for example, or to relax into farce, as in THE RIVALS. Satisfactory as the definition seems on the whole, and useful as it is in aiding us to perceive clearly the true limitations of comedy, we must not insist upon applying it too severely or we shall find that we have erased from the list of the writers of comedy the names of two of the greatest masters of stage-humor, Shakespeare and Aristophanes, from neither of whom have we a single comic play the action of which is caused solely by the clash of character on character. The delightful fantasies of Shakespeare fall into another class, which we may term romantic-comedy, and in which we find the comic plot sustained and set off by a serious plot only artificially joined to it. The imaginative exuberance of Aristophanes displayed itself not in any form fairly to be called comedy, but rather in what may be described as lyrical-burlesque.
Image Author: Matthias Kabel