Describe why Dr. Chumley could be seen as a character of comedy in Harvey.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Chumley can be seen as a character of comedy because he rejects or goes against what he initially believed.  When first introduced to Elwood, Chumley demonstrates a certainty in his own beliefs and that Elwood is insane.  Yet, over time, Chumley begins to demonstrate a weakness in his own condition and his life.  This manifests itself more and more throughout the drama and Chumley seems to be more in a state of delusion that Ellwood could ever be.  The construction of the life in Akron and the woman who says, ‘‘Poor thing! Oh, you poor, poor thing!’’ represents comedy because it is an abdication of what the doctor used to believe.  It is evident at the end of the play that Chumley has become a comic figure in that he no longer represents the characterization he demonstrated at the start of the drama.   This is comedy because it shows a desire for harmony and unity that was not entirely present at the start of the drama.  The vision that Chumley seems to embrace at the end of the drama is one where time can stop and where a life that is not the one he lives is one that can be embraced.  This is comic in its aspirations and hope.

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