Definition of Humor
Humor is a literary tool that makes audience laugh, or that intends to induce amusement or laughter. Its purpose is to break the monotony, boredom and tedium, and make the audience’s nerves relaxed. The writer uses different techniques, tools, words and even full sentences in order to bring to light the new and funny sides of life. Humor is often found literature, theater, movies and advertising, where the major purpose is to make the readers and the audience happy.
Types of Humor
There are several types of devices, which create humor. Humor is, in fact, the end product and not the device itself. These devices are;
Examples of Humor from Literature
Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, is one of her most popular novels. Throughout the entire novel, Jane Austen uses humor. She presents a very hilarious scene between Mr. And Mrs. Bennet, as Mrs. Bennet endlessly breaks down and makes complaints for his lack of understanding her nerves, and then he responds by saying, “You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least.” He constantly pokes fun at her. Likewise, Austen bursts with humor in case of Elizabeth and Darcy, as upon their first meeting both feel a sense of disgust for each other. However, later they enjoy teasing each other.
“No, don’t you worry; these country jakes won’t ever think of that. Besides, you know, you’ll be in costume, and that makes all the difference in the world; Juliet’s in a balcony, enjoying the moonlight before she goes to bed, and she’s got on her night- gown and her ruffled nightcap. Here are the costumes for the parts.”
(The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain)
In this example, the duke is unable to notice the silliness of his own actions, instead he makes comments on the low level of understanding of the country jakes.
Harper Lee has inserted humor by creating funny situations with a serious tone in her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Many descriptions about Dill are funny and humorous as he is presented as a larger than life person. When we meet him first, the kids take him a puppy. Then he tells his name Charles Baker Harris, saying he can read though his age cannot permit him. We also see a lot of humor in Scout’s action coming from her efforts to comprehend adult ideas, which are very complex for a child like her. Author is showing her as very smart kid. A humorous event occurs during Scout’s first day at school. Miss Caroline, the teacher, is naive, “looked, and smelled like a peppermint drop.” We know her when Scout tells her that she already was punished before taking lunch on her very first day at school, making children mildly suspicious.
Charles Dickens derives humor through characterization in his novel, Great Expectations. The tone is serious, but there are humorous touches that punctuate the main action. We see a humorous scene in the dinner party when Joe. Gargery tells his life story to Pip, and subtly measures gravy on Pip’s plate, while Mrs. Gargery gets onto him. Another funny situation happens when Magwitch wants to sleep and asks Pip, “Where will you put me?” [Magwitch] asked, presently. “I must be put somewheres, dear boy.”
Function of Humor
Humor is one of the most effective literary weapon to please the audience, develops characters and makes plots useful and memorable entities. It plays many functions in a literary work, such as it arouses interest among readers, sustains their attention, helps them connect with the characters, emphasizes and relates ideas and helps the readers to picture the situation. Through this tool, writers can also improve the quality of their works by pleasing the audience. Apart from that, the most dominant characteristic of humor is to provide surprise, which not only improves quality, but improves memorable style of a literary piece. The writers learn how to use words for different objectives.