Farce: Definition, Examples & Meaning

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      In theatre, Farce is a comedy that aims at entertaining the audience through situations that are highly exaggerated, extravagant, and thus improbable. A farce is a literary genre and the type of a comedy that makes the use of highly exaggerated and funny situations aimed at entertaining the audience. Farce is also a subcategory of dramatic comedy that is different from other forms of comedy, as it only aims at making the audience laugh. It uses elements like physical humor, deliberate absurdity, bawdy jokes and drunkenness just to make people laugh and we often see one-dimensional characters in ludicrous situations in farces.

      Oliver Goldsmith’s play, She Stoops to Conquer, is a good example of farce or comedy of errors, as it contains multiple misunderstandings. It uses comedy of manners in which the author ridicules manners of a particular society specifically the upper class. She Stoops to Conquer includes several farcical elements such as themes, human manners and even the plot itself. In the play, two Londoners search for Mr. Hardcastle’s home which when they find, they are deceived to believe that they have reached in an inn not home; thus they conduct themselves according to the situation. One of the gentlemen, Marlow pursues Kate Hardcastle, however, she pretends to be a maid until he reveals his passionate feelings for her, and plans to elope with Kate. She, on the other hand, looks bawdy in her manners. As the gentlemen do not know the reality, they behave rudely with other household members. All such misunderstandings create humor and give farcical touches to this play.

      We find several farcical situations in Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot. However, most of these situations have deeper meanings than just apparent meanings. For instance, we have a funny situation where Vladimir and Estragon put on and put off their hats as well as they do it with Lucky. Though it is a farcical situation, nevertheless, the aim is to tell the audience that the world of tramps have no significant actions and place except to do trivial things. Perhaps, the most hilarious farcical situation occurs when the tramps test the strength of a string in order to hang themselves. The trousers of Estragon come down to ankles while pulling the cord, and due to strain, the cord breaks.

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