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Comedies of humours

  • Here are entered English comedies that were popular during the 16th and 17th centuries and that feature characters whose conduct is controlled by one overriding trait.

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  • Variants

    • Comedies of humors
    • Humors, Comedies of
    • Humours, Comedies of
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  • Sources

    • found: Work cat.: 79319979: Jonson : Every man in his humour and The alchemist : a casebook, 1978.
    • found: Jonson, B. Every man in his humour, 2000.
    • found: Jonson, B. The alchemist, 1966.
    • found: Britannica online, Nov. 24, 2012(comedy of humours, a dramatic genre most closely associated with the English playwright Ben Jonson from the late 16th century. The term derives from the Latin humor (more properly umor), meaning "liquid," and its use in the medieval and Renaissance medical theory that the human body held a balance of four liquids, or humours: blood, phlegm, yellow bile (choler), and black bile (melancholy). When properly balanced, these humours were thought to give the individual a healthy mind in a healthy body. In his play Every Man Out of His Humour (1599), Jonson explains that the system of humours governing the body may by metaphor be applied to the general disposition, so that a peculiar quality may so possess a person as to make him or her act in one way. Jonson's characters usually represent one humour and, thus unbalanced, are basically caricatures. Jonson distinguished two kinds of humour: one was true humour, in which one peculiar quality actually possessed a man, body and soul; the other was an adopted humour, or mannerism, in which a man went out of his way to appear singular by affecting certain fashions of clothing, speech, and social habits.)
    • found: The Oxford companion to the theatre, 1983(under Comedy: Comedies may be classified under various headings. The Comedy of Humours, as practiced by Jonson and Fletcher, was influenced by classical models.)
    • found: Harmon, W. A handbook to literature, c2009(Comedy of Humours. The special type of realistic comedy that was developed in the closing years of the sixteenth century by Ben Jonson and George Chapman and that derives its comic interest largely from the exhibition of character whose conduct is controlled by one characteristic or humour. Some single psychophysiological humour or exaggerated trait of character gave the important figures in the action a definite bias of disposition and supplied the chief motive for their actions. Thus, in Jonson's Every Man in His Humour (acted 1598), which made this type of play popular, all the words and acts of Kitely are controlled by an overpowering suspicion that his wife is unfaithful; George Downright, a country squire, must be "frank" above all things; the country gull in town determines his every decision by his desire to "catch on" to the manners of the city gallant. The comedy of humours owes something to earlier vernacular comedy but more to a desire to imitate the classical comedy of Plautus and Terence and to combat the vogue of romantic comedy. Its satiric purpose and realistic method are emphasized and lead later into more serious character studies, as in Jonson's The Alchemist. The comedy of humors, closely related to the contemporary comedy of manners, influenced the comedy of the Restoration period.)
    • found: The Cambridge guide to world theatre, 1988(Comedy of humours. The distinctive style of English comedy of humours was popularized by the enormous success of Jonson's Every Man in His Humour (1598). Jonson peopled the play with characters, each of whom was dominated by a single attitude or 'humour'. It was a comic technique familiar from Aristophanes. Jonson followed it up with the less successful Every Man out of His Humour (1599), written in the 'old comedy' style of Aristophanes. The comedy of humours became a weapon in the war of the theatres. Almost all contemporary and subsequent writers of comedy have been in various degrees reliant on the comic potential of 'humours'. The special tone of Restoration comedy is, in part, the result of a preservation of humours comedy alongside the sophisticated comedy of manners. Through the 18th and 19th century, professional dramatists, with an often-wearying predictability, deposited humours into farce, where the situation comedies of modern television have kept them.)
    • found: Wikipedia, Nov. 24, 2012(Comedy of humours. The comedy of humours refers to a genre of dramatic comedy that focuses on a character or range of characters, each of whom has one overriding trait or 'humour' that dominates their personality, desires and conduct. This comic technique may be found in Aristophanes, but the English playwrights Ben Jonson and George Chapman popularized the genre in the closing years of the sixteenth century. In the later half of the seventeenth century, it was combined with the comedy of manners in Restoration comedy. ... The comedy of humours owes something to earlier vernacular comedy but more to a desire to imitate the classical comedy of Plautus and Terence and to combat the vogue of romantic comedy, as developed by William Shakespeare. The satiric purpose of the comedy of humours and its realistic method lead to more serious character studies with Jonson's The Alchemist. The humours each had been associated with physical and mental characteristics; the result was a system that was quite subtle in its capacity for describing types of personality.)
    • found: TalkTalk website, Nov. 24, 2012(comedy of humours. Dramatic genre inspired by the theory of humours. Each character is the embodiment of a 'humour' and what it represents, such as melancholy or anger. The most famous example of a comedy of humours is Ben Jonson's Every Man in his Humour (1598). Comedies of humours are vehicles for satire, especially of materialistic society. To some extent, this genre could be compared to expressionism in that personality is allowed to shape appearance, manner, and behaviour. Such drama is not naturalistic since the characters are grotesque, and this is intended to be seen as a portrait of the vices of society.)
    • found: McGraw-Hill encyc. of world drama, c1972(Comedy of Humors. Kind of comedy built upon dominant traits in most of the characters. One trait--jealousy, greed, braggadocio--usually predominates in each character and is often employed to make him appear ridiculous. The form is based upon the Middle Ages and Renaissance psychology of humors.)
  • General Notes

    • Here are entered English comedies that were popular during the 16th and 17th centuries and that feature characters whose conduct is controlled by one overriding trait.
  • Change Notes

    • 2012-11-24: new
    • 2013-02-23: revised
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