Comedy's intention

Philosophy and Literature 28 (1):118-136 (2004)
: I begin by asking, What is the underlying dynamic of comedy, its generic intention? I answer by testing each of several classic theories (plus two popular cliches) against a single, brief scene in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. Each of the first six sections subjects that scene to one of seven theories, in each case singling out an idea that seems convincing and discarding other ideas that do not. Illogical Logic explains the various means by which the structure of a comedy reduces the characters to absurdity, thereby generating a Catharsis of wish and fear, analogous to Aristotle's tragic catharsis of pity and fear
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