Arsenic And Old Lace Essay Research Paper

Arsenic And Old Lace Essay, Research Paper

Beginning with acts such as Abbott and Costello, and episodes of "I Love

Lucy," humor is often the result of a misunderstanding. In the movie,

"Arsenic and Old Lace," the plot combines murder and insanity.

"Arsenic and Old Lace," seemingly outlines a mystery or drama, however

with the addition of misunderstanding, it becomes a comedy. The humor is drawn

from the characters’ relationships with one another as well as the characters

themselves, being misunderstood. The movie centers on two sisters, Abby and

Martha, and their nephew Mortimer. The misunderstanding lies between the sisters

and the townspeople. Abby and Martha are known as sweet, kind, and charitable,

however, the town is oblivious to the sisters’ hobby of poisoning old men and

burying them in their cellar. There is even a misunderstanding with the sisters

themselves, as they see nothing wrong with what they do, and make no attempt to

hide it. Yet, the humor of the movie is when their nephew, Mortimer, finds the

bodies, and is quite flustered to discover how his aunts treat it with such

nonchalance. Humor is also found in the misunderstanding between Mortimer and

his Brewster family. Throughout the entire movie, Mortimer finds himself ashamed

of his Brewster name. He discovers that his aunts keep twelve bodies in the

basement. Mortimer also receives a visit from his lunatic brother John, who,

like his aunts, murders people. While Mortimer discovers more about his insane

family, he still must deal with his brother Theodore, who believes that he is

President Roosevelt. Finally, Mortimer commits his brother Theodore along with

his aunts to an insane asylum. The humor in this scene is at the very end of the

movie when Mortimer finds out from his aunts that he is not really a Brewster,

rather a son of a sea boat captain. "Arsenic and Old Lace," is not the

typical comedy, yet contains all of the elements necessary to fit into the humor

genre. The idea of being misunderstood is one so common; it has appeared in many

films, both drama and comedy. "Arsenic and Old Lace" contains a plot

that is unique. The movie’s ideas alone are common, yet together they mix an

unusual blend of humor.


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