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Ever since Aristotle’s definition of tragedy, Comedy is often defined as “tragedy avoided.” It serves therefore as a vehicle for exposing human folly, human imperfections, the results of living under some pretensions not dictated by Fate or the gods. Comedy deals with the nontragic results of greed, overweening pride, etc. by telling the story of how less than noble behavior has earth-bound consequences. Almost universally, comic plots involve the unveiling of human imperfections, and does so is a way that endistances the reader from the protagonists. In this sense, comedy is a lesson preached by the author to the reader/audience. “If you act thusly, the result will be as follows – your folly will be revealed and you will be the object of ridicule.” As such, then comedy is a life lesson for humanity itself, a guidepost for right action. It is entertaining in that it lifts us “above” the characters, implying that we, the readers and audience members, are “above” such human imperfections. In all its generic differences (farce, domestic comedy, slapstick, melancholy, etc.) the overlying “function” of comedy is “lessons learned."
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