I think it has a social function
Posted by Laraine on May 04, 1998 at 14:03:14:
In response to Comedy, written by Linden on May 04, 1998 at 02:23:13
]... 1. Comedy may have a social function, in presenting social criticism by holding things up to ridicule (not very relevant to JA, but maybe more so for Gibbons)
I think JA's comedy has much to do with social criticism. Northanger Abbey ridicules the penchant for Gothic novels and the titilation they involved, Sense and Sensibility ridicules the notion of sensibility, Pride and Prejudice ridicules hubris, Mansfield Park ridicules pomposity, Emma riducules snobbery, and Persuasion ridules vanity. All of them ridicule classism. In addition, they all have much to say about the role of women, although the last is subtle and perhaps only a biproduct of JA's near-perfect realism.
What makes it comic for me is that JA sees with such perception and shows us what she sees with a sense of irony very few authors, even ones of such note, have managed.
As an example, I quote the line in all of Austen that always seems the funniest to me. At the end of Emma, Knightley is explaining to Emma why it is that he probably shouldn't have corrected her behavior for all those years. What I love about this is it shows how well Emma really does know herself, that she is able to laugh at herself. I'd like to have this person as my friend (which in a way, she is):"How often, when you were a girl, have you said to me, with one of your saucy looks--`Mr. Knightley, I am going to do so-and-so; papa says I may, or I have Miss Taylor's leave'--something which, you knew, I did not approve. In such cases my interference was giving you two bad feelings instead of one."
"What an amiable creature I was!--No wonder you should hold my speeches in such affectionate remembrance."
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