Classical Comedy | Definition, Characteristics, Examples in Literature

Classical Comedy | Definition, Characteristics, Examples

Classical Comedy Definition

Terence, Plautus, Aristophanes and Ben Jonson’s dramas represent the classical comedy. In classical comedy, any content sacking the tragic effect is kept out of reach and only one segment of life is treated here. Thus, it gives the picture of one segment of human life that is happy. The classical comedy deals with same fixed characters like jealous husband, braggart soldiers, agile servant, prodigal son and tyrannical father etc.

In classical comedy, the conflict of motif does not contribute in the development of the characters who have fixed roles in the development of the plot. Here, the dramatist takes the characters according to his own will while in romantic comedy, character leads the dramatists.

In classical comedy, the character tackles with the real life issues and do not escape far from them. Like romantic, they do not plunge into the world of fantasy but they deal directly with it in the contemporary life, with all its manners, foibles and affectations. Johnson’s comedies deal with the hard life of London and treats the deeds and language such as man do use.

Classical Comedy Definition Characteristics

1.Classical comedy deals with the single person or a man which governs his whole life as a central feature of his personality Shakespeare presents picture of complete man and woman while Ben Johnson captures the certain features of humour.

2. It is also didactic and satiric in nature and classical playwrights deal with exaggerated eccentricities of their men and women with the sole purpose to make the audience laugh. The follies of the characters are treated in the satiric manner to relieve them from their vices. Romantic comedy does not contain such satiric vein.

3. The characters of classical comedy come from rustic and low life. They are not the kings, princes, nobles and lords taking the audience much close to the realities of human life.

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4. All the three unities of time, place and action are well observed in the classical comedy. The action here does remain confined to one spot throughout the story and does not extend to twenty four hours. In the Alchemist of Ben Johnson, all the events occur either inside Love wit’s house or in front of its door and do not take more than twenty four hours to happen. The unity of action consists of single plot having no subplots. The comedies of Plautus and Terence contain intrigues carrying the audience through climax to dénouement.

Classical Comedy Definition Examples with Writers

Classical Comedy by Aristophanes

  • The Banqueters
  • The Babylonians
  • Cleon
  • The Acharnians
  • The Knights
  • The Clouds
  • The Wasps
  • The Peace
  • The Frogs
  • The Birds

Classical Comedy by Plautus

The Brothers Menaechmus

Classical Comedy by Menander

The Girl from Samos

Classical Comedy by William Shakespeare

The Comedy of Errors

Classical Comedy by Terence

The Eunuch

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