Discuss The Playboy of the Western World as a dark comedy.

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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A comedy is any dramatic presentation where “tragedy is avoided.”  There are many subgenres: farce, romantic comedy, satire, social comedy, etc. etc.  “Dark” comedy refers to those stories that do not avoid serious subjects but that overcome them by their denouement (Arsenic and Old Lace comes to mind).  On the other hand, such comedies as Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream are never “dark”—such complications as donkey heads, mistaken identities, and the like remove this play from “darkness.”  Playboy is, on one level, a romantic comedy in which young people flirt, etc.  But what makes it a “dark” comedy is the dramatic suggestion that the Playboy might really have killed his “da”; then, in the final complication, when his father “returns, alive,” that darkness is lifted, and the “prodigal son” motif takes its place.  The changes in the isolated Irish society he temporarily invaded are of a melancholic, heavy-hearted kind, but tragedy was clearly “avoided.”

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