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Define Festive Comedy and outline the progression traditionally associated with this comic mode.
Here's what I've got (as far as the progression):
1. Disordered court
2. Retreat to the Green World (i.e. Forest of Arden)
3. Ordeals to overcome
5. Clarification (sort of "comic anagnorisis")
6. Return differently
However, I have not been able to find a good definition for the genre.
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The history of Comedy begins, unfortunately, with a lost work, the companion to Aristotle’s definitive Tragedy -- his treatise on Comedy did not survive history’s Renaissance. But scholars trace the impulses, if not the formal definition, of Comedy to “tragedy avoided” – and Lysistrata is a good example. Your special interest, Festive Comedy, refers to those occasions at court when the Jester or the townsfolk “played” the royalty for one day; in medieval times, too, the guild members interspersed irreverent comic material into the pagent plays that celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christie. The celebratory nature of Comedy, as opposed to the satirical or critical comedy that opposed the prevailing order, is often called Festive because the occasion for its sponsorship coincided with public or religious holidays, and were sponsored by the royalty – Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream is a dramatized encapsulation of the process – the rustics rehearse a “festive comedy” to be presented at the festive wedding of Titania and Hippolytus. In the centuries between the Jacobean drama and Modernism, comedy split into many kinds – melodrama, comedy of manners, drawingroom comedy, farce, etc. – but (as is logical) festive comedy – comedy for royalty – faded as democracy and Socialism took hold.
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