Comedy and War

Arden Henley
Friday 25 November 2022

Maddocks, Melvin. The Sewanee Review 112, no. 1 (Winter 2004): 22-34.

This article examines the relationship between comedy and war, seeking to understand why comedy is used so often in war narratives. It surveys a wide range of literature, from Aristophanes’s Ancient Greek plays to Don Quixote to more modern examples of comedic war narratives. It examines why comedy in particular works in crafting war stories. The article provides an analytical justification to support the idea that comedy can be used subversively, which in a war narrative can mean to create peace.

It is common in our society to define peace solely as the opposite of war, but this article conceives of an inherent duality–that of comedy and war–which can also be applied to conceptions of peace and war. Now that we have seen comedy and war can exist simultaneously, and have examined how and why that combination works, we can look further and begin to conceive of peace and war as concepts which can also exist simultaneously. The linking of a communal, joyful thing like comedy with an isolating, abhorrent thing like war allows us to conceive of pockets of peace in an otherwise violent arena. In reading about a place in war, however big or small, where funny and joyful things happen, we can work toward creating our own pockets of peace, joy, and comedy in an otherwise violent, chaotic world.


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