Comedy and Tragedy as Two Sides of the Same Coin: Reversal and Incongruity as Sources of Insight

Arden Henley
Friday 25 November 2022

Dadlez, Eva and Lüthi, Daniel. The Journal of Aesthetic Education 52, no. 2 (Summer 2018): 81-94.

This article uses literary theory to argue that comedy in fiction can enlighten in the same way as tragedy. Authors Eva Dadlez and Daniel Lüthi argue that comedy and tragedy use similar tactics such as incongruity (subverting audience expectations), forced perspective shifts (forcing the audience to look at a situation or character in a different light), and unconventional use of tropes and audience expectations to elicit different emotions. The article provides an interesting perspective on how comedy and tragedy are both used effectively to discuss war and peace.

More than anything else, this essay analyzes the relationship between joy (the emotion evoked by comedy) and despair (the emotion evoked by tragedy). In highlighting their similarities, Dadlez and Lüthi prove that one can extract joy from despair, creating an emotionally complex but ultimately empowering experience. The decision to face despair and coax joy out of it is itself one definition of personal peace. In seeing how to make this extraction, we learn to create a sense of peace from our lives and the narratives therein.


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