In drama the term comedy is often used to characterise a particular sortJ of play, as distinct from tragedy. In broad terms a comedy ends in marriage, a tragedy ends in death. The notion of human relationships and sex as the necessary ingredient of comedy may not seem as obvious as death being a necessary part of tragedy - there are more romantic views perhaps! The comedies of Shakespeare certainly end in multiple marriages, the plot involving confusion and setbacks to the - usually - young lovers. The obstacles are often put in their way by the older generation, or the prevailing social conditions that dictate who is a suitable mate. This overall structure also characterises the comedy dramas of Oscar Wilde. Plays termed 'farces' involve little more than

close language analysis will need to focus on particular instances of humour within the drama. Humorous interludes in the tragedies and historical plays of Shakespeare introduce characters deSignated as comic, for example the fool in King Lear. The comic characters are often drawn from working classes - Shakespeare uses a range of regional dialects, though this may be less noticeable to a modern audience. These humorous interludes are also signalled by a change in style - prose for the comic characters, poetry for the tragic - and noble! - characters. This tendency to stereotype social classes as inherently either 'comic' or 'tragic' still happens in today's dramas - more so in films than in stage plays perhaps.