There are, of course, many similarities between the Comedy of Manners and the Comedy of Humours. Both are based on reality. Both commonly attack anti-social elements and both are sarcastic, but the difference between the two is so much more clear that there is no scope for doubt. The Comedy of Manners makes fun of those weaknesses which occurs, while the Comedy of Humour characterizes the inherent nature of human nature.
Difference between Comedy of manners and Comedy of Humours
The Comedy of Manners deals with the superficial characteristics of man, while the Comedy of Humours analyzes the inner feelings of the human heart. Humour may also be used in plays written by playwrights worthy of the Comedy of Manners, but they are not emphasized so much as those in their play that follow the example of Ben Jonson.
Comedy of Manners is found in our humorous characters, while Jonson displays them in all his supporting characters. The meaning of humour in these two comedies also varies. In Jonson’s plays, the humour is meant to magnify the characteristics of characters, while in the Comedy of Manners, it refers to the superficial oddities that come to humans through the various restrictions and behaviours of social life.
The Comedy of Humours was composed by English scholars who were following a moralistic gimmick in the back, while the Comedy of Manners was inspired by French artists, and in particular Moliere. The depth and intensity of Comedy of Humour are not seen in Comedy of Manners.
While Jonson has taken up the weaknesses of his time and tried to correct them through his writing, at the same time Comedy of Manners only presents an unusual form of fashionable life of his time. The intensity of Jonson’s ideas were refined and corrected by Congreve in the intelligent-controlled way in which he moved the momentum wisely. The Comedy of Humour is universal in itself, as it expresses a high level of morality. The Comedy of Manners, on the other hand, displays a hatred for the simple level of morality. Its significance is hopeful, as it shows only the superficial aspect of life at a particular time.
Jonson’s comedy is a satire comedy, while the Comedy of Manners is certainly a comedy of intelligence. The rigour and satire are found more in the Comedy of Humour rather in the Comedy of Manners. This type of comedy is fragile. It emphasizes the satirical display of the incompatibility between two thoughts and one idea and action by the power of intelligence. Both have different writing methods.
Ben Jonson’s writing style is poetic and emotional, while the style of the practitioners of Comedy of Manners is cultured, intelligent, and littered with literally complex techniques. In fact, the difference between the two types of comedy is in – according to Bonamy Dobree – the art of showing on stage, rather in the view of. The characters in Humour’ comedy reveal some more vibrancy. Restoration comedy being the creation of the younger generation, the freshness is full and powerful but it also has a sense of easy irresponsibility of the younger generation.