Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/155970
Title: HUMOUR AS REVITALIZATION IN THE SHORT STORIES OF G.K. CHESTERTON, SAKI AND P.G. WODEHOUSE
Authors: POH ZIA XIN
Issue Date: 15-Apr-2019
Citation: POH ZIA XIN (2019-04-15). HUMOUR AS REVITALIZATION IN THE SHORT STORIES OF G.K. CHESTERTON, SAKI AND P.G. WODEHOUSE. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: This thesis examines the short stories in G.K. Chesterton’s The Club of Queer Trades, Saki’s From the Chronicles of Clovis and P.G. Wodehouse’s My Man Jeeves. These three authors, as humorous writers in a relatively dark and serious literary era, the early 20th century, seem interestingly incongruous with the culture of their time. Using several prominent theories of humour, particularly Henri Bergson’s theory of humour as rigidity, Sigmund Freud’s ideas of jokes as catharsis and James Beattie’s Incongruity theory, I examine the works of these writers against the backdrop of their era to discover the possible purpose of comedy, particularly in the context of a potentially stagnant society that needs re-energization. Using the fantasy-game in Chesterton’s “The Tremendous Adventures of Major Brown” as a model, I posit that humour revitalizes a tired 20th-century society through enabling gameplay. I argue that humour in Saki and Wodehouse’s writing forms the framework for a game of irreverence that takes place in three stages: firstly, the introduction of irreverence into the rigid structures of society, secondly, the breakdown of society under the weight of this irreverence and finally, the restoration of civilization. Although the irreverence that happens in the game does not carry into the external world, this thesis will demonstrate that the effects of whimsy and catharsis produced in the world of the game revitalize the reader’s perspective on society as well as the reader himself. Thus, it is possible that one important purpose of humour is to provide much-needed revitalization of societal structures and the members of society themselves, making humour all the more important in times where society is serious and rigid, where laughter can seem out of place.This thesis examines the short stories in G.K. Chesterton’s The Club of Queer Trades, Saki’s From the Chronicles of Clovis and P.G. Wodehouse’s My Man Jeeves. These three authors, as humorous writers in a relatively dark and serious literary era, the early 20th century, seem interestingly incongruous with the culture of their time. Using several prominent theories of humour, particularly Henri Bergson’s theory of humour as rigidity, Sigmund Freud’s ideas of jokes as catharsis and James Beattie’s Incongruity theory, I examine the works of these writers against the backdrop of their era to discover the possible purpose of comedy, particularly in the context of a potentially stagnant society that needs re-energization. Using the fantasy-game in Chesterton’s “The Tremendous Adventures of Major Brown” as a model, I posit that humour revitalizes a tired 20th-century society through enabling gameplay. I argue that humour in Saki and Wodehouse’s writing forms the framework for a game of irreverence that takes place in three stages: firstly, the introduction of irreverence into the rigid structures of society, secondly, the breakdown of society under the weight of this irreverence and finally, the restoration of civilization. Although the irreverence that happens in the game does not carry into the external world, this thesis will demonstrate that the effects of whimsy and catharsis produced in the world of the game revitalize the reader’s perspective on society as well as the reader himself. Thus, it is possible that one important purpose of humour is to provide much-needed revitalization of societal structures and the members of society themselves, making humour all the more important in times where society is serious and rigid, where laughter can seem out of place.
URI: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/155970
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses

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