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Tragicomedy is fictional work that blends aspects of the genres of tragedy and comedy. In English literature, from Shakespeare's time to the nineteenth century, tragicomedy referred to a serious play with either a happy ending or enough jokes throughout the play to lighten the mood.


Tragicomedy in theatre

Classical precedent

There is no complete formal definition of tragicomedy from the classical age. It appears that Aristotle had something like the Renaissance meaning of the term (that is, a serious action with a happy ending) in mind when, in Poetics, he discusses tragedy with a dual ending. In this respect, a number of Greek and Roman plays, for instance Alcestis, may be called tragicomedies, though without any definite attributes outside of plot. The term itself originates with Plautus: the prologue to Amphitryon uses the term to justify the play's bringing gods into a predominantly bourgeois play.

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