The Way of the World Essay

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Smith is an independent scholar and freelance writer. In this essay, Smith explores the significance of Congreve's play to Restoration drama, particularly the comedy of manners.

Western philosophers have theorized about the nature and causes of mirth at least since the time of Plato. Comedy feeds on incongruity; people laugh even when the joke is cruel because they want to feel a sense of relief that their own follies are not fatal. Indeed, comedy has the power to heighten people's sense of belonging to a common human family. Restoration playwrights understood the value of laughter as a social force, and they used the theatre as a staging ground. With an attitude of detached instruction that was still entertaining, they contrived their plots, fashioned their stock characters (the country bumpkin, the wit, the hero, the fool, etc.), and satirized familiar domestic situations and themes to reflect the ridiculous but...

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This section contains 2,480 words
(approx. 7 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Way of the World Study Guide
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The Way of the World from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.