Comic relief  

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Comic relief is the inclusion of a humorous character or scene or witty dialogue in an otherwise serious work, often to relieve tension.


Comic relief usually means a release of emotional or other tension resulting from a comic episode interposed in the midst of serious or tragic elements in a drama. Comic relief often takes the form of a bumbling, wisecracking sidekick of the hero or villain in a work of fiction. A sidekick used for comic relief will usually comment on the absurdity of the hero's situation and make comments that would be inappropriate for a character who is to be taken seriously.

Sometimes comic relief characters will appear in fiction that is comedic. This generally occurs when the work enters a dramatic moment, but the character continues to be comical regardless. Greek tragedy does not allow any comic relief. Even the Elizabethan critic Sidney following Horace’s Ars Poetica pleaded for the exclusion of comic elements from a tragic drama . But in the Renaissance England Marlowe among the University Wits introduced comic relief through the presentation of crude scenes in Doctor Faustus following the native tradition of Interlude which was usually introduced between two tragic plays. In fact,in the classical tradition the mingling of the tragic and the comic was not allowed. William Shakespeare also deviated from the classical tradition and excellently used comic relief in Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello and Romeo and Juliet. The Porter scene in Macbeth , the grave-digger scene in Hamlet and the gulling of Roderigo provide immense comic relief. The mockery of the fool in King Lear may also be regarded as a comic relief. This tradition of comic relief in serious plays continues from the Mystery and Morality plays of the Medieval England..The comic talk in Crucifixion or slapping of Noah’s wife in Noah’s Arc are crude examples of comic relief. It is true that comic episodes of scenes provide some sort of relaxation to the monotony of horror.

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