COMEDY OF MANNERS
A comedy of manners is a comedy that deals with the behavior of people, uses witty language and satire tone. It often criticizes upper class, their behavior and pretensions. A lot of irony and sarcasm are used. Characters are stock – they don’t represent individuals, but certain type of people, the author often makes caricatures of them. Dialogues are funny and witty. Scenarios are cleverly constructed – situations are ridiculous and surreal, there is a lot of coincident and rapid plot twists. Comedy of manners comments on trivial and superficial standards and norms of society. An example of comedy of manners is Oscar Wilde’s Importance of Being Ernest.
Modernism is a literary period from 1890 to WW1. Thinkers that influenced Modernism were Nietzsche, Freud and Marx. Modernism has no strict definition; it is more a name for a number of literary works written in that time. Modernist texts lose chronology, time is circular. There is little description, modernists like more to allude to things. The stream of character’s consciousness is represented, that’s why the works are often fragmentary, just as thoughts of the characters (losing coherence and sense of purpose and value). The traditional modes of thinking are questioned – social organization, religion, morality and the concept of the human self. Modernists rejected traditional realism – chronological plot, continuous narrative, omniscient narrator and closed endings.
THEATER OF THE ABSURD
Originates from France in 1940’s. It was influenced by the philosophy of existentialism that puts human existence in its center. According to existentialists, in a godless universe human existence has no meaning or purpose, and therefore in the Theater of the Absurd all communication breaks down – speech is irrational and illogical, and finally, there is silence. There is lack of contrast and conflicts, characters are alienated and caught in hopeless situations, forced to do repetitive or meaningless actions. Dialogues are full of clichés, word-play, repetition and nonsense. The world is incomprehensible, illogical and devoid of purpose. Characters are lost, faced with bare reality and stuck in routine. There are usually two characters, which are often stereotypical. Between them there is no understanding, no true communication and connection. A typical example of the Theater of the Absurd is Samuel Beckett’s play Happy Days.