Comparing Aristophanes Birds And Shakespeare's Comedy Of Errors

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Comedy, like every good theatrical performance, needs to engage the audience by evoking emotions based on what is shown on stage. However, a comical play calls for laughter, which tends to disengage audience’s attention from the play’s context. This self-contradictory nature of comedy seems to work against the aim of theater. This makes comedy a difficult theatrical art to work with because since it should find the right balance in its nature. Woodruff points out that “the paradox of comedy is that it must attract and repel at the same time, if it is to both hold its audience and to arouse their laugher.” I agree with Woodruff’s statement about comedy’s nature, which we can see from Aristophanes’ Birds and Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. Comedy …show more content…
It seems as laughter diminishes emotion and empathy, hence working against the goal of the art of theater. However, that appears no to be the case for comedy since it is still able to make us laugh and keep our attention at the same time. This seems to be confusing but Woodruff argues that “laughter and emotion may be mutually antagonistic, but they also feed each other.” Laughter in comedy, depends on an undertone of engaging emotionally, and in theater, the audience must fundamentally must at some level for thing that they’re laughing with. Sometimes, the comedy in theater ridicules objects and ideas that the audience relate to, resulting in a way to a laughter at yourself. Richardson puts out that “Comedy is not designed to condemn evil, but to ridicule a lack of self-knowledge”. A good theatrical comedy makes the audience laugh at their imperfections transcending its aim not anymore to just laughter, but an affirmation of a sense of community. However, sometimes the objects of laughter “lie outside the circle of those toward whom we have feeling” and this works “as a kind of self-congratulation, a shared “feeling good” about ourselves”. The laughter in theater is a feeling of relief. This could be a relief that you and the audience share the same errors, or feeling good about yourself. We’ve seen that even though comedy …show more content…
From an outer perspective these plays seem absurd and farce, giving us no reason to pay full attention to the plays. Nevertheless, they have both succeeded in achieving the goal of art of theater while making us laugh at their characters and the ridiculous events that happen throughout the play. In his play Birds, Aristophanes creates an escapist fantasy, related to the political events of Athens at the time, portraying themes of megalomania and possibly criticizing some values of the Athenians. However, the audience is not offended by the play but is able to laugh with it. Walton states that “the ability to laugh at itself tend to be a mark of a confident culture” but also praises Aristophanes for its toughness and its goal “to achieve more than sending the audience home feeling reassured about the state of the city”. The art of comedy allows Aristophanes to address these themes and embrace the paradox. Going forward 2000 years later, we can the self-contradictory nature of comedy embodied on Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. In here the play sounds tragic at first, filled with tragic issues. The plot starts with a threat of execution, and is filled with unsettling themes. Throughout the play we see slavery, violence, broken families, troubled marriages, etc. However that is not the focus of the play. Shakespeare briefly touches the issues to build up a transition to funnier and happier

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