The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Tragicomedy (or dark comedy or black comedy) refers to fictional works that blend aspects of the genres of tragedy and comedy. In English literary history from Shakespeare to the nineteenth century, tragicomedy refers to a serious play with a happy ending.

The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical- comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited: Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light. For the law of writ and the liberty, these are the only men.
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act II, Scene 2

Tragicomedy in the theatre

Many of Shakespeare's later plays such as Cymbeline, The Tempest, and The Winter's Tale were tragicomedies. Tragicomedy is a common genre in post-World War II British theatre, with authors as varied as Samuel Beckett, Tom Stoppard, John Arden , Alan Ayckbourn and Harold Pinter writing in this genre.

Tragicomedy in film

Dark comedy was a popular genre in British films of the early 1990s. An example of a dark comedy is Life is Sweet, by British director Mike Leigh.

See also

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