The Logic of Wish and Fear: New Perspectives on Genres of by Ben La Farge

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By Ben La Farge

Relocating without difficulty from Greek to Shakespearean tragedies, to 19th and twentieth-century British, American and Russian drama, and fiction and modern tv, this examine sheds new mild at the paintings of comedy.

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Shaw, Ionesco, and Beckett, but his thesis that great comedies refuse to obey social conventions is convincing and his account of individual classic comedies is often brilliant. 0004 2 Comedy’s Intention Abstract: I subject a brief scene from the first act of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest to seven classical theories of the comic, testing it against each one—for example, (1) the theory of resemblance (we see ourselves in fictional caricatures); (2) the theory of dissociation (no, we laugh dismissively at any resemblance to ourselves); (3) Ben Jonson’s theory of four humors; (4) William Hazlitt’s theory of “Wit and Humor”; (5) Freud’s theory of “the comic of situation”; (6) Henri Bergson’s theory of laughter; (7) Northrop Frye’s identification of the principal comedic characters (the Eiron versus the Alazon, the Buffoon and the Churl).

Yet earlier we also admitted that her gift for being at once both realistic and irrational was something we could recognize in ourselves. How is it possible we can simultaneously identify and dissociate with her? Maybe we can do both, but even if we can, the corollary (our dissociation), far from helping us to clarify the mystery, has only compounded our confusion. No, we’ll have to look elsewhere for a plausible theory. 2 So far we have been concerned with the ways in which the reader relates to the comic characters.

Well, sir, in three short months I could pass that girl off as a duchess at an ambassador’s garden party. I could even get her a place as a lady’s maid or shop assistant, which requires better English. 0004  The Logic of Wish and Fear The game reaches a climax in Act Five when Liza, back in Higgins’s apartment having won his bet by passing as a “duchess,” turns on him in a rage, reverting to her “kerbstone” English just to spite him: Liza: What a fool I was not to think of it before! You cant take away the knowledge you gave me.

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