Dark humor is a literary device used in novels and plays to discuss taboo topics and add an element of comedy. The Cambridge dictionary defines it as a non-serious way of treating or dealing with serious topics. Serious, gruesome, or lightly painful incidents. Writers use it as a tool to explore serious topics, causing serious thoughts and upset in the audience. , makes the serious incident or event a bit lighter in intensity. Although it is often inserted to elicit laughter, it plays an important role in advancing the action of the play or novel. Etymologically, black humor is a two word phrase black and humor. The meanings are clear in that it is a humorous way of treating something that is serious. It is also called black comedy, black comedy, or black humor.
Examples of dark humor from literature
Example # 1
“Billy is jerky in time, he has no control over where he goes next, and travel isn't necessarily fun. He's in a constant state of stage fright, he says, because he never knows where in his life he's going to have to act next. "
(Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 2)
These lines are taken from Slaughterhouse's second Two- Five by Kurt Vonnegut. The novel's protagonist, Billy Pilgrim never had control over his life. It illustrates Billy's war-torn mentality that has disturbed the normal rhythm of his life. Billy thinks he has already visited all the events of his His planetary movements and theories about life and death have left a profound impact on his real life. This description demonstrates the black humor as it contributes to the pacifist message of the novel.
Example # 2
"They are trying to kill me" "Yossarian told him calmly.
No one's trying to kill you," Clevinger yelled.
Then do they shoot me? "Yossarian asked:
You shoot everyone," Clevinger replied. "You're trying to kill everyone."
And what difference does that make? "Twenty-two from Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. The protagonist Yossarian expresses his fears to his friend. Yossarian believes that everyone intends to kill him, while Clevenger takes it in a very easy way, which implies that death is something normal for the For him, death is an accepted reality during the wars, so it should not be taken seriously So he suggests that they don't specifically try to kill Yossarian, but everyone. This is a kind of humor for readers when tragedies get too heavy for them.
Example # 3
“As she was grabbing the long broom, she tried to tickle her from the door. This had no effect, so she got angry and started pushing Gregor. Just by pushing him out of her place, but meeting no resistance, she became alert. When the true state of affairs now took hold of the attendants, her eyes widened in amazement and she whistled to herself. from lounging there, she opened the bedroom door and screamed in the dark; "Go and see that it is crooked; it is lying there absolutely crooked."
(The metamorphosis of Franz Kafka)
These lines occur towards the end of the text, Metamorphosis of Franz Kafka. These lines show the attitude of the woman hired by the family to clean Gregor's room Incident, Gregor's disappearance The word "crooked" here refers to Gregor's death, adding the element of black humor to the situation. Gregor's miserable situation is narrated in an absurd way. Ironically, his death provides comfort to his family and also illustrates that his metamorphosis was imperative in altering the circumstances of his family. This incident presents black humor as it provides the audience with the way that the death of a family member has been described as if it were actually an insect.
Example # 4
We are waiting for Godot. ”Humor from the play Waiting for Godot by Samuel Becket. There are two characters in the scene. They are talking about the Godot they are waiting for. These lines show that this waiting never allows them to make independent decisions. Vladimir is so promising that he doesn't want to move until he meets Godot. This black humor shows the audience the opportunity to see their suffering with an ironic smile on their faces.
Functions of dark humor
Dark humor is a type of pause or pause for the audience after a large dose of tragic or serious incidents and similar to comic relief. It also gives them the opportunity to experience laughter and discomfort at the same time. To put an end to the tragic seriousness of previous scenes or incidents, he often makes the same topic, theme, or incident a little lighter than it is. For example, it could be the discussion about death as in Catch-22, or the nonsense of the Very Serious Situation in which the fate of people is in someone's hand but it turns into a common absurd situation as in Waiting for Godot.
Popular Literary Devices
- Ad Hominem
- Deus Ex Machina
- Double Entendre
- Flash Forward
- Half Rhyme
- Internal Rhyme
- Line Break
- Non Sequitur
- Pathetic Fallacy
- Poetic Justice
- Point of View
- Red Herring
- Tragic Flaw