Ever watched a play or movie that left you with a warm, fuzzy feeling and a smile on your face? That’s the heart-tugging magic of sentimental comedy. It’s a genre that cleverly mixes humor with a dash of pathos, aiming to stir up emotions while entertaining.
So, let Rachel Parris dive into this delightful world and unravel What is The Meaning of Sentimental Comedy.
What is The Meaning of Sentimental Comedy
Sentimental comedy, a genre that blossomed in the 18th century, is a dramatic comedy that zeroes in on the ability to evoke feelings as well as laughter.
Unlike its raucous cousin, slapstick, or its witty sibling, satire, sentimental comedy aims to inspire its audience with moralistic and virtuous tales, showcasing the triumphs and tribulations of everyday heroes and heroines.
Elements of Sentimental Comedy
The blueprint of sentimental comedy is fascinatingly unique. Here’s what sets it apart:
The Virtuous Protagonist: Our hero, often too good for this world, faces trials and tribulations but sticks to a moral compass that’d make a saint nod in approval.
Emotion Over Laughter: Sure, you’ll chuckle, but the goal here is to feel. Expect narratives that are more aww than haha.
A Happy Ending: It’s about hope, folks. Sentimental comedy reassures us that no matter the storm, there’s a rainbow waiting for us.
Social Commentary: It’s not all about feeling good; it’s also about highlighting societal issues — think Charles Dickens with a wink.
The Reformative Arc: Characters often undergo significant personal growth or societal change, emphasizing the idea that people are inherently good and capable of improvement.
Environmental Factors Affecting Sentimental Comedy
Now, let’s chat about the environmental soup where sentimental comedy simmers:
Cultural Climate: The rise of empathy in popular culture means audiences are primed for stories that resonate on an emotional level.
Political and Social Context: With the world often seeming like it’s in disarray, sentimental comedy offers a form of escapism and a vision of a kinder, gentler society.
Technological Advances: Streaming services have given rise to a golden age of content variety, allowing niche genres like sentimental comedy to find their devoted audience.
Economic Influences: In tough times, people crave feel-good content that reinforces positive social values and personal virtues, leading to a surge in sentimental narratives.
Major Work of Sentimental Comedy
18th Century Plays:
The Conscious Lovers by Richard Steele (1722): This play is often cited as a pivotal work in the sentimental comedy genre. It features typical aspects like virtue in distress and the ultimate reward of goodness, along with the evocation of audience sympathy.
The School for Scandal by Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1777): While often considered a comedy of manners, this play has elements of sentimental comedy with its focus on virtue and morality, particularly in the character of Sir Peter Teazle.
19th Century Literature:
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (1837–1839): Dickens’ works, while not plays or straightforward comedies, often incorporated elements of sentimental comedy through their humor and pathos, and the focus on social reform and virtue.
You’ve Got Mail (1998): This Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan classic romantic comedy captures the spirit of sentimental comedy in a modern setting, with its focus on virtue, morality, and the inevitable happy ending.
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006): Though more of a drama with comedic elements, this film tells the story of struggle and eventual triumph, aiming to tug at viewers’ heartstrings while highlighting the goodness of the protagonist.
This Is Us (2016–2022): A contemporary dramedy series that, through its timeline-hopping narrative and deep character studies, elicits a wealth of emotions, often joy and tears within the same episode.
Ted Lasso (2020–): A more recent example where a feel-good and inherently good-natured American football coach takes on an English soccer team, bringing out the best in those around him with humor and heart.
The Good Person of Szechwan by Bertolt Brecht (1943): While Brecht is known for his epic theater, this play can also be seen as a form of sentimental comedy through its exploration of goodness in a corrupt world.
Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding (1996): The novel, often humorous and touching, follows the personal growth of the protagonist, a sort of everywoman who navigates the ups and downs of modern life.
FAQs about Sentimental Comedy
How does sentimental comedy differ from other forms of comedy?
Unlike more farcical or satirical comedies that prioritize laughter, often through absurdity or ridicule, sentimental comedy emphasizes character development and emotional engagement, focusing on themes of love, virtue, and morality.
How do environmental factors influence sentimental comedy?
The cultural climate, societal norms, and prevailing social attitudes of the time influence the themes and characters of sentimental comedy. For instance, during periods of social upheaval, audiences may gravitate toward narratives that provide solace and reaffirm human goodness.
Do sentimental comedies have to end happily?
A hallmark of the genre is the eventual happy ending, or at least a conclusion that upholds the moral message and leaves the audience feeling uplifted and reassured about the goodness of the characters or society.
Why is sentimental comedy important in literature and film?
Sentimental comedy plays a crucial role in highlighting the human capacity for goodness and the importance of moral integrity.
It provides a counterbalance to cynicism, offering a narrative space where virtues are celebrated, and emotional connections are made, which can be both comforting and inspiring to audiences.
And there you have it—the sweet essence of sentimental comedy wrapped up in a bow of humor and heart. This genre reminds us that laughter and tears are two sides of the same coin, leaving us a little lighter and a lot more touched.
Whether it’s through a play, movie, or a simple story, sentimental comedy proves that emotions are the true universal language.
Thank you for reading this article.
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