In a general sense morality refers to the ability to decipher the difference between good and bad or right and wrong behavior (Webster). Morality has shown itself to be an ever-present theme throughout the life of theatre. By incorporating morality into theatre it gives the audience an opportunity to not only be entertained, but also allows the audience to gain a life lesson through a non- threatening and easily understood approach. Morality within theatre has its roots within Tragedy and Morality Plays, however as comedy continued to develop from early Greek comedies to Comedia dell’arte, all the way to Moliére it showed to have an increasingly effective voice when speaking to the masses. The ability of comedy to translate a given moral or life lesson was greater than that of tragedy because of its happy endings, and satirical manner; thus making it more engaging to the audience while still having the power to effectively convey a moral, theme, and or life lesson.
This paper will examine comedy’s effectiveness in conveying morals to an audience, by investigating Greek comedy, Comedia dell’arte as well as La Tartuffe by Moliere. Utilizing these examples will allow for a better understanding of the efficiency of comedy’s ability to communicate a life lesson to a given audience.
Ancient Greek comedy was an influential and remarkably popular form of theatre. Making it was one of the “three principal dramatic forms” classical Greek theatre (the others having been both tragedy and satyr) (Csaspo 27). The development of Greek comedy divided it’s self into three periods, Old Comedy, Middle Comedy, and New Comedy (Cartwright 1). Due to the lack of artifacts in regards to New and Middle comedy, both forms eventually fade...
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Bellinger, Martha Fletcher. "The Commedia d'ell arte." A Short History of the Drama. N.p.: n.p., 1927. 153-57. Rpt. in Theatre History. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.
Cartwright, Mark Z. "Greek Comedy." Ancient History Encyclopedia. N.p.: n.p., 2013. 1-5. Print.
Ley, Graham. A Short Introduction to the Ancient Greek Theater. Rev. ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2006. Print.
Meagher, Jennifer. "Commedia Dell'arte." Heilbrun Timeline of Art History. New York: n.p., n.d. 1-5. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Web. 6 Nov. 2013.
W.D Howarth, and Ron W. Tobin. "Molière: A Playwright and His Audience." The French Review: 1-2. JSTOR. Web. 7 Nov. 2013.
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