Humour and Pathos in Poor Relation: A Comparative Study of Three Classic Works
Essay on Humour and Pathos in Poor Relation
A poor relation is someone who belongs to a wealthy or respectable family but has no money or status of their own. They are often dependent on the charity or goodwill of their relatives, who may treat them with contempt or indifference. A poor relation is a familiar figure in literature, especially in the genres of comedy and tragedy. Writers use humour and pathos to depict the lives and characters of poor relations, creating stories that are both amusing and moving.
essay on humour and pathos in poor relation
Humour and Pathos: How do writers use these techniques to portray poor relations?
Humour and pathos are two rhetorical devices that writers use to elicit different emotions from the reader. Humour is the quality of being funny or amusing, while pathos is the quality of evoking pity or sadness. Writers use humour and pathos to portray poor relations in various ways, such as:
Exaggerating their flaws or misfortunes for comic effect
Contrasting their situation with that of their rich or successful relatives
Showing their resilience or optimism despite their hardships
Revealing their hidden talents or virtues
Making them the heroes or victims of unexpected events or twists
By using humour and pathos, writers can make the reader laugh at the absurdity or irony of the poor relation's situation, but also feel sympathy or admiration for them.
Examples of Humour and Pathos in Poor Relation Stories
There are many examples of humour and pathos in poor relation stories in literature, but here are three famous ones:
Charles Lamb's "A Poor Relation": A classic essay that combines humour and pathos
Charles Lamb was an English essayist who wrote about various topics, including his own life as a poor relation. In his essay "A Poor Relation", he describes the plight of a poor relation who is invited to a family dinner but is ignored or ridiculed by his relatives. He uses humour to mock the pretensions and hypocrisies of his relatives, such as when he says:
"He is known by his knock. Your heart telleth you 'That is Mr. .' A rap, between familiarity and respect; that demands, and, at the same time, seems to despair of, entertainment."
He also uses pathos to express his compassion and identification with the poor relation, such as when he says:
"He is too humble to accept your welcome; too proud to resent your coldness."
Lamb's essay is a masterpiece of humour and pathos, as he exposes the injustice and cruelty of society towards the poor, but also celebrates the dignity and humanity of the poor relation.
Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice": A novel that features several poor relations and their struggles
Jane Austen was an English novelist who wrote about the manners and morals of the gentry in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Her novel "Pride and Prejudice" features several poor relations, such as Mr. Collins, Mrs. Bennet's cousin, who is a pompous and obsequious clergyman; Mr. Wickham, Mr. Darcy's childhood friend, who is a charming but unscrupulous soldier; and Charlotte Lucas, Elizabeth Bennet's friend, who is a sensible but plain woman. Austen uses humour to satirize the follies and vices of these characters, such as when she says:
"Mr. Collins was not a sensible man, and the deficiency of nature had been but little assisted by education or society."
She also uses pathos to show the difficulties and dilemmas of these characters, such as when she says:
"Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want."
Austen's novel is a brilliant example of humour and pathos, as she portrays the complex and varied relationships between rich and poor, pride and prejudice, love and marriage.
Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations": A novel that explores the impact of poverty and wealth on human relationships
Charles Dickens was an English novelist who wrote about the social and economic problems of the Victorian era. His novel "Great Expectations" tells the story of Pip, an orphan who is raised by his abusive sister and her kind husband Joe, a blacksmith. Pip's life changes when he meets an escaped convict, a mysterious benefactor, a beautiful but cold-hearted lady, and a bitter old woman. Dickens uses humour to create memorable characters and scenes, such as when he says:
"She was not a good-looking woman, my sister; and I had a general impression that she must have made Joe Gargery marry her by hand."
He also uses pathos to explore the themes of guilt, gratitude, loyalty, betrayal, ambition, and love, such as when he says:
"I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her."
Dickens' novel is a powerful example of humour and pathos, as he shows how poverty and wealth can affect human character and destiny.
The Effects of Humour and Pathos on the Reader
Humour and pathos have different effects on the reader depending on how they are used by the writer. Some of these effects are:
Humour and Pathos as a Source of Entertainment and Empathy
One of the main effects of humour and pathos is to entertain the reader by making them laugh or cry. Humour can relieve tension or boredom by creating surprise or contrast. Pathos can touch the emotions or imagination by creating sympathy or identification. Both humour and pathos can make the reader feel more connected to the characters or situations in the story.
Humour and Pathos as a Way of Criticizing Society and Challenging Stereotypes
Another effect of humour and pathos is to criticize society or challenge stereotypes by exposing their flaws or injustices. Humour can ridicule or mock social norms or expectations that are unfair or oppressive. Pathos can appeal to moral values or human rights that are violated or ignored. Both humour and pathos can make the reader think more critically about the issues or problems in the story.
Humour and Pathos as a Means of Expressing Personal Feelings and Experiences
A third effect of humour and pathos is to express personal feelings or experiences that are difficult or painful to communicate otherwise. Humour can disguise or lighten negative emotions such as anger or fear. Pathos can convey or release positive emotions such as joy or love. Both humour and pathos can make the reader understand more deeply what the writer or narrator is going through.
Conclusion: Why is humour and pathos in poor relation still relevant today?
Humour and pathos in poor relation are still relevant today because they reflect the reality and diversity of human society. There are still many people who suffer from poverty, inequality, or discrimination, and who need humour and pathos to cope or resist. There are also many people who enjoy reading or watching stories that make them laugh or cry, and who appreciate humour and pathos as a form of art or expression. Humour and pathos in poor relation are not only a literary device, but also a human condition.
FAQs: Five common questions and answers about humour and pathos in poor relation
Q: What is the difference between humour and comedy?A: Humour is a broader term that refers to anything that causes amusement or laughter, while comedy is a specific genre or form of humour that usually has a happy ending or a positive message.
Q: What is the difference between pathos and tragedy?A: Pathos is a broader term that refers to anything that evokes pity or sadness, while tragedy is a specific genre or form of pathos that usually has a sad ending or a negative message.
Q: What are some other examples of humour and pathos in poor relation in literature?A: Some other examples are: Mark Twain's "The Prince and the Pauper", Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest", George Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London", J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye", Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird", J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series, etc.
Q: What are some benefits of humour and pathos in poor relation for the reader?A: Some benefits are: They can improve the mood or mental health of the reader by reducing stress or depression. They can enhance the creativity or intelligence of the reader by stimulating different parts of the brain. They can increase the empathy or social skills of the reader by fostering understanding or compassion.
Q: What are some challenges of humour and pathos in poor relation for the writer?A: Some challenges are: They can be difficult to balance or combine without losing coherence or impact. They can be subjective or controversial depending on the taste or culture of the reader. They can be risky or offensive if they are insensitive or inappropriate to the topic or audience.