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27 December 2013 @ 02:27 pm
whoops, part 2  
Oh great: now I'm just having a bunch of grumpy Comedy feelings, full stop. But since I'm having them - I don't really understand the idea that only tragedy teaches us about life (as opposed to the idea that tragedy, like comedy, can teach us about parts of life), because life is in fact more than death. But I also don't get the related assumption that comedy is "only" about wish-fulfillment, and that this means that it's unreal and ripe for dismissal - because the thing about watching wish-fulfillment play out in a novel or on a screen is that it helps us to figure out what our wishes are. I could probably write one of those All I Need to Know About Love I Learned from Jane Austen-style books, except that it would probably just consist of the text of that scene between Emma and Mr. Knightley at the Christmas party ("Your father will not be easy; why do not you go?"), Elizabeth's line about being proud of Darcy, and a series of exclamation points - but seriously, stories tell us how to live, and comedies can tell us what we want out of life, what we care about, what we want our relationships to look like, what values we want to hold in our everyday lives. Obviously not every comedy is perfect just because it has a happy ending, and not every comedy speaks to every reader or viewer. But what on earth is bad, or weak, or unrealistic about a genre that speaks to who we want to be, that tells us that it's good to hope for things, that lets us think about what we hope for in the first place? Why do we think that happy endings are good for children, but that we ought to give them up when we grow up? What's so wrong with a little wish-fulfillment?
Valancy: EagerReadervalancy_s on December 28th, 2013 03:28 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this. I hadn't thought of it in those terms before and that's an excellent defense (so stupid that one is needed) of the practical usefulness of happy narratives.

"There certainly was some great mismanagement in the education of those two young men. One has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it."
"To be sure you know no actual good of me—but nobody thinks of that when they fall in love."

Those two quotes combined have been very useful in my life.
tempestsarekind: elizabeth bennet is amusedtempestsarekind on December 28th, 2013 03:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading it! I'm always slightly surprised when I manage to be more articulate than just "GRR SMASH" on this subject.

And those are very useful quotations indeed!