literary work that aims primarily to provoke laughter. Unlike tragedy
, which seeks to engage profound emotions and sympathies, comedy strives to entertain chiefly through criticism and ridicule of man's customs and institutions.
Although usually used in reference to the drama (see drama, Western; Asian drama), in the Middle Ages comedy was associated with vernacular language and a happy ending. Thus, the term was also applied to such non-dramatic works as Dante's religious poem, The Divine Comedy.
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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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