ComedyWhat is the difference between Comedy of humour and Comedy of manner? please explain with some examples from Renaissance playwrights

Expert Answers
vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Comedies of "humours" are associated with Ben Jonson. There is some disagreement about the term.  Some interpret "humours" as referring to the theory of biologically-rooted personalities, determined by imbalances of bile, etc. Others argue that the word "humours" by this period had acquired the additional, broader sense of "rigidly defining traits of personality."  In either case, comedies of humours depict people who a dominated by very narrow traits of personality, such as anger, affectation, boastfulness, etc.  In Jonson's comedy Epicoene, the character named Morose is dominated by an intolerance of noise.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Usually a comedy of humors features at least one character who is defined by one overriding character trait. Their actions are to some extent predetermined by this trait, which often the audience is privy to, even though the rest of the characters in the work may not be. A comedy of manners usually references the manners or mannerisms of a group of people, either a culture, as the previous post said, or a social class. A great example of a satirical comedy of manners is The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When we think about the difference between these two concepts, a comedy of manners, as other editors above have suggested, is one which satirises or makes fun of conventional values and practises of the day. Therefore they can be rather difficult for people from a different time or culture to understand. A comedy of humour is associated with playwrights such as Jonson and feature characters that are characterised by one overwhelming characteristic that is taken to an absurd length.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Following the line started by post 2, this is why it's sometimes mystifying to watch television shows or read books from another culture. If you are unfamiliar with the culture, stereotypes, and word plays that are part of the Mexican culture, for example, you will not understand or appreciate comments or actions that will be hilarious to those who do "get" the humor of the situation.

belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with the other posters; The Importance of Being Earnast is a comedy of manners, while the Pink Panther series is a comedy of humor. The difference is that one uses the conceptions of the time and the contradictory aspects of human nature vs. culture, while the other uses slapstick and unsubtle physical or visual humor.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A comedy of manners is a culture-specific use of comedy.  You have understand the characters and stereotypes in order to get the humor.  The humor comes from our shared understanding of the stereotypical characters and the ways they are interacting.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to support the other posters on this one. A comedy of manners relies upon the readers/watchers knowledge of the society being depicted. Without this understanding, many things are simply lost in translation.

bhawanipur | Student

The unconventional behavior of the characters of Restoration Comedy is their society, in which they live but as far the unconventionality in the characters of 'Comedy of Humor' is concerned, it is their born qualities. The 'Comedy of Humor' is chiefly influenced by English social pattern and by its moralities, whereas, 'Comedy of Manners' is inspired by French comedy, propounded by Moliere.  The 'comedy of humors' is very much related to moralities plays and the chief purpose of this comedy is to bring moral reform. In the 'comedy of manners' we don't find any such purpose.

In the Comedy of Manners we find glimpses of satire but it is not in the chief characteristics of this kind of comedy. It is only complimentary elements whereas in the Comedy of Humors we get a wonderful amalgamation of emotion and passion.

"The way of the world' by William Congreve is an example of Comedy of Manners.

bhawanipur | Student

Comedy of Humor gained momentum in the hands of Ben Jonson. He is considered to be pioneer of the art of writing 'Comedy of Humors'. 'Comedy of Humor' is different from the 'Comedy of Manners' in so may aspect. It is true that in both types of comedies, there is a frequent use of satire and realism but inspite of these, we see a gret distinction between both sort of literary genre.

'Comedy of Humor' mainly deals with the oddities of characters. We see a shadow of whimsicality over the real life of character.  In the 'Comedy of Manners', the playwrights highlight the social manners of the contemporary society. The Restoration playwrights deal with the vices and follies of sophisticated society in most amusing manners. However, the style of these dramatists is a little exaggerative but they are very successful in conveying their ideas.

The characters of the 'Comedy of Manners' are the true representatives of their age. They ae highly fashinable and perfect dandy. IN 'comedy of Humor' the playwrights emphasises the  representation of characters in action, without considering their whimsicality.

Ben Jonson develoved the use of humors in comedies. His characters exhibit excessive humor in their personality but in Restoration comedy, characters are devoid of such quality. In the characters of 'Comedy of Manners' we find eccentricity and they develop during their life time but in 'Comedy of Humors' this oddity is the inherent qualities of the characters.