[PDF Notes] What is the weakness of characterization of the comedy of Manners

Wit is such a dominant feature of the comedy of manners that often it does violence both to character and plot. Characterization is not regarded as the chief concern of the comic playwright. His function is performed if the characters say number of “smart and witty things.”

Even the fools are infected with wit; they too say witty things. They over-flow with smart things and are distinguished from the true wits” by being called “Coxcombs”, though they deserve not the name. Congreve believed that characters in a comedy should be properly distinguished from each other, and yet he himself failed to distinguish between the characters of “Wit-would” and ‘True-wits”.

The wit of one person is not distinguished from that of the other. It is impossible to distinguish between people of “wit”, “good manners”, etc, and those who are not gifted in these matters. It is only because they have been given proper names that we can distinguish between one character and another. Too minute a characterization seems to be incompatible with the Comedy of Manners.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *