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Comic spirit- new comedy - Essay Example

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The genre of ‘Old Comedy’ portrayed by Aristophanes (446 BC – 386 BC), a comic playwright of ancient Athens, evolved by 317 BC into the genre of comic drama known as ‘New Comedy’. The new form of comedy similar to the modern day farce was distinguished by “the use of…
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Download file to see previous pages This influenced later comedy till the present day, “from Romans to Shakespeare to the West End and Broadway” (Perks 76). Roman playwrights Plautus and Terence employed ‘New Comedy’ in their work, as did Shakespeare in his Comedy of Errors.
‘New Comedy’ deals with a transfer of power from the older to the younger generation. In Terence’s The Self-Tormentor, Machiavelli’s La Mandragola, and Stephen Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, male sexuality and virility are central to the comic plot, and there is a focus on the power shift.
Thesis Statement: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the shift in power from the older to the younger generation in ‘New Comedy’ portrayed in the Self-Tormentor, La Mandragola, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. How these plays exploit male sexuality for comic purposes will be identified, and why male sexuality plays such a key role in the ‘New Comedy’ form will be examined.
In Terence’s Heauton Timoroumenos (The Self-Tormentor) which was derived from Menander’s play of the same name, a wealthy youth Clinia develops a long-term, monogamous liaison with the young woman Antiphila, as evident from the following line, “almost now that he has her in the place of a wife” [prope iam ut pro uxorehaeret] (Rosivach 61). When Clinia’s father hears about the affair, he rebukes his son so strongly for his irresponsible actions, that the young man leaves Athens to become a mercenary serving a foreign king. His determination to make something of himself, echoes his father’s pursuit of success in his own youth (Rosivach 61).
But, after compelling his son Clinia in love with Antiphila to go to the war area, the stern father Menedemus repents for his harshness, and torments himself mentally. Terence’s humour “arises from the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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