Joe Orton Writing Styles in What the Butler Saw

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Farce

Farce is a type of comedy known for its humorous and extreme exaggeration. It is often characterized by a ridiculous plot, full of comic twists and turns and impossible coincidences, absurd dialogue, stereotyped characters, and physical comedy. Elements of farce exist in some plays of ancient Greece. The form first became popular in fifteenth century France, and it continues to this day. Examples of twentieth-century farce include movies by the Marx Brothers and Charlie Chaplin.

What the Butler Saw exhibits all of the attributes of farce, but many critics have said that the play is in fact a parody of a farce. This means that Orton is imitating the form of farce in order to ridicule it. It is difficult to distinguish a farce from a parody of a farce, but some elements of Orton's play move it outside of the traditional form.

The plot of What the...

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Drama for Students
What the Butler Saw from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.