When we look at the practice of contemporary genre criticism, we find two seemingly incompatible tendencies at work, which we will term the semantic and the syntactic or structural, respectively, and which can conveniently be illustrated by traditional theories of comedy. For a first group, the object of study is less the individual comic text than some ultimate comic vision of which the texts of Moliere, Aristophanes, Joyce, and Rabelais offer so many embodiments. Accounts of such a vision, to be sure, seem to oscillate between the repressive and the liberatory; thus for Bergson comedy has the function of preserving social norms by castigating deviancy with ridicule, while for Emil Staiger the comic serves to make the fundamental absurdity of human existence tolerable. Such approaches, whatever their content, aim to describe the essence or meaning of a given genre by way of the reconstruction of an imaginary entity - the 'spirit' of comedy or tragedy, the melodramatic or epic 'world view', the pastoral 'sensibility' or the satiric 'vision' - which is something like the generalized existential experience behind the individual texts. In what follows we will take Frye's work as the richest idiosyncratic elaboration of such an approach, for which genre is essentially apprehended as a mode.