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Blithe Spirit By Noel Coward Essay Research

Blithe Spirit By Noel Coward Essay, Research Paper Blithe Spirit written by Noel Coward was first published in 1941. Noel Coward was known for his sophisticated comedies of modern life (Seymour, Smith 261). It

Blithe Spirit By Noel Coward Essay, Research Paper

Blithe Spirit written by Noel Coward was first published in 1941. Noel Coward

was known for his sophisticated comedies of modern life (Seymour, Smith 261). It

is sophisticated yet hilarious to the readers. Seymour and Smith stated that

Coward?s plays, ?are within their admittedly-but unashamedly-extremely

narrow limits, accurate truthful, cynical and funny?(261). It is one of the

greatest farces ever written. Blithe Spirit is the story of Charles Condomine

who loses his wife, Elvira, at a young age. Charles remarries a lady named Ruth.

The couple decides to have a sйance to get some ideas for a novel that

Charles is in the process of writing. After the sйance is complete,

Elvira?s spirit is conjured up and only Charles can see her. Ruth thought he

had gone mad, and she was quite perturbed with him. Eventually, Elvira reveals

herself to Ruth by moving objects in front of her. Elvira decides that she wants

Charles to be in the spirit world with her. Thus, she tries to kill him in

numerous ways. Elvira tampers with the brakes on Charles car, but Ruth takes the

car that morning and dies in an accident. Now Charles is faced with two spirits

talking to him, and he calls on Madame Arcati to help him get rid of the two

spirits. Madame Arcati is the woman who performed the sйance in the

beginning. Later, Charles finds out that Edith, a servant, can see the two

spirits. Once Madame Arcati knows that Edith can see the spirits, she realizes

that Edith is the source to get rid of them. Madame Arcati?s sйance does

not work so Charles decides to take a trip away from the house. He gets in his

car, and it crashes at the bridge. This drama is one of the greatest farces

because every one acts seriously in funny situations. For example, when Madame

Arcati is about to start the first sйance she steps outside and talks to

the birds and tells Charles?s guests that the cuckoo is angry. All the guests

obediently listen to the bird. It may seem comical to the reader but it also

presents a grave appearance. According to Eric Bentley, ?if what farce offers

is the interaction of violence and something else, it follows that violence by

itself is not the essence of farce?(243). The violence portrayed in this play

is not horrifying, and it gives no gory details. It lightly discusses the death

of the characters in a comical way. An example of this is when Elvira tampers

with the breaks on the car and Ruth while driving it gets into an accident.

Elvira?s response to her taking the car is a scream that sounds like a

banshee. Suddenly, Ruth?s spirit comes in, and she starts chasing after

Elvira. Some people want their jokes pleasant and harmless. It is common to

interpret farce as precisely the pleasant treatment of what usually would have

been an unpleasant subject (Bentley 239). One of the greatest nineteenth century

farceur critics discusses his opinion on modern day farces, ?I had often

complained that they bored us constantly with this question of adultery, which

nowadays is the subject of three quarters of the plays. Why, I asked, take

pleasure in painting it?s dark and sad sides, enlarging on the dreadful

consequences which it brings with it in reality? Our fathers took the thing more

lightheartedly in the theatre and even called adultery by a name which awoke in

the mind only ideas of the ridiculous and a sprightly lightheartedness. . . .

Chance brought it about that I met Labiche. ?I was very struck,? he said to

me, ?with your observations on adultery and on what could derive from it . .

.for farce . . . I agree . . .? I had almost forgotten this conversation when

I saw the title posted outside the Palais Royal. . . .It was my play: it was

adultery treated lightheartedly? (Bentley 238). Although Blithe Spirit did not

portray any adultery, Sarcey made an excellent point that a farce has to remain

lighthearted through any bad situation in order to be sought funny by the

audience (243). Coward wrote this play in England during World War II. He did

not write this comedy to insight laughter during a dark moment but to merely

write a comical drama (Bentley 236). Blithe Spirit is indeed a wonderful comedy

for polished, edgy audiences. It is a combination comedy that turns itself into

a good-humored ghost story. As Madame Arcati says, ?nothing has ever been

definitely proved about anything? (Fulton 516). In this world, a lot of things

happen around us that we may not understand or be able to explain with reason.

People are apt to brush aside something they do not understand or reject

something supernatural. In the universe, there is still the unseen realm for us

to explore. Therefore, audiences are more willing to view plays if they are

intertwined with a comical twist. As Coward states, ?Blithe Spirit is an

improbable farce, in which things are supposed to fly to and fro?(Fulton 465).

The most comical character in the play would definitely be Madame Arcati. She is

a hefty older woman that rides a bicycle everywhere she goes. The town?s

people all think she is a bit strange, but her character lightens up the play

dramatically. She is the only character in this play that is portrayed

comically. However, the audience may perceive the other characters as comical

despite the portrayal of serious situations. As proven, Blithe Spirit has many

characteristics of a great farce. As noted previously, Seymour and Smith?s

view of this drama is extremely narrow. Yet, it consists of cynical and funny

traits (243). Overall, Blithe Spirit gives a wonderful example of humor in

extraordinary circumstances.

Eric, Bentley. The Life of The Drama. New York: Henry Holt & Company,

1967. A.R., Fulton. Drama And Theatre Illustrated By Seven Modern Plays. New

York: Henry Holt and Company, 1946. Martin, Seymour-Smith. Funk & Wagnalls

Guide to Modern World Literature. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1973

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