Do Comedies Beginning in Turmoil but Ending in Harmony Celebrate Life?
This is not the best essay (it’s rubbish but take from it what you will) To some extent, the statement is true as proof lies in many plays and novels. An example of this is Shakespeare’s comedic plays. The play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ begins in Athens where there is turmoil in the sense that Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, does not want to marry Demetrius. At the time of writing the play, these kinds of issues where the epitome of turmoil, parents were desperate to have their daughters married off, the disobedience of this tradition would have caused disharmony and embarrassment, which at the time of writing the plot was abhorrent, demonstrating the turmoil referred to in the question. By the end of the play, the characters fall in love with their respective partners, thus the play ends in harmony.
This can mean that the Shakespearean comedy celebrates life as it demonstrates the hardships that the characters faced and how they overcame them. This shows the audience that they can also overcome the situations that they are facing as the audience could relate to the characters. This provided the audience with reassurance and a motive to remain positive, they know that their problems will be solved eventually. The comedy in this sense is celebrating life’s pain, harmony and ability to overcome.
However, many comedies that begin in turmoil and end in harmony fail to ‘celebrate life’. Examples include Heller’s ‘Catch 22’. This novel includes the main character Yossarian trapped in the middle of World War II. It is soon revealed that Yossarian seems to think that everyone is trying to kill him, and so takes the war on a personal level. This situation appears quixotic and so the reader is subsequently unattached from the novel and the improbable storyline. Readers are unable to feel a connection to Yossarian, and the plot of the novel means that readers are unable to draw parallels from their own lives to Yossarian’s or any other characters, consequently the story does not celebrate life of the readers or the characters, even if the novel ends in harmony. The novel being set in World War II and the audience reading in the 1960s up until today suggests that life would have been completely different.
This includes the fact that in the 1960s and to today turmoil is perpetual, especially recently with all sorts of problems regarding the recession, politics and personal issues such as rises in divorce and dealing with depression. Consequently, the issues dealt with in ‘Catch 22’ concerning the war are completely different to what people arerecently dealing with thus making it progressively difficult to relate to, and so the comedy does not celebrate life in this sense, the two lives differ enormously.
However, it could be argued that the distorted image of life that Heller has put across in ‘Catch 22’ could be celebrated. Although the novel contains improbable situations and unlikely events, the readers are still able to somewhat relate to the characters through their personalities and can develop a connection with certain characters they feel they may relate to. ‘Catch 22’ ends in harmony, at which point the readers would be able to joyous for the fictitious characters and the obstacles they’ve overcome, the comedy in this sense is celebrating life of the fictional characters. Other comedic texts, such as Pride and Prejudice celebrate life as Jane Austen writes the book to be metaphorically representing life at the time of writing. In the novel, a mother is desperate to have her daughters married; this was very common in the 1800s.
Along with this, PP deals with issues regarding manners, education and upbringing; all of which were important in the audience at the time because of the society that they were in. This in itself celebrates life of the people of that generation as the novel metaphorically represents the lives of the readers, the hardships they face to do with class, marriage, education, how these are overcome and prospective happy ending. The readers may not necessarily achieve the same happy ending, or a happy ending at all, but the fact that Austen has employed the happy ending allows the readers to feel resonance, and also happiness for the characters and because through Austen’s writing style, they have been so closely connected to, almost like friends. Thus the life of the characters is celebrated as well as the readers, whether or not they gain the same outcome.