Pillow book is a book by Sei Shonagon written in the form of mini-essays and diary notes depicting interactions and observations she experienced in her daily life as a resident of the Imperial court of Teishi. This book of observations is said to have been written in the 990sand early 11th century in Heian Japan. This book by Sei Shonagon contains all kinds of observations, personal thoughts, the author`s own poetry, her opinions concerning about everything, and important events that took place in the court which she resided in. Sei jots down everything that hooks her attention. This leads to a book that is virtually a mix of oral history, diary, memoirs, journals and gossip columns.
The Pillow Book is also filled with humor from various instances described by the author at various instances in her life. One such quote of Sei is, “The post of the Sixth-rank Chamberlain is not one that anyone should aspire to.” (Shonagon, 2006) The book also has a touch of humor where Sei narrates of how she pleasures in managing to the better of someone who is full of themselves and overconfident. This is also ironical as we learn from the author`s writing that she views herself as the smartest and most intelligent person in the aristocratic bloodline.
The discovery of the author`s coded language invented for her lover also provides a humorous account in the book. When another courtier, Nobutaka, accidentally discovered Sei Shonagon`s coded language, he starts to use this lingo in a frail attempt at seducing the courtier. Statements by Nabutaka to Sei such as “Do you have a go board here? I`d like a round of go with you. How about those stories of yours, eh? Will you lay them down for me? My game`s as strong as Tadanobu`s, you know. Don`t make distinctions between us and this.” The above statements are humorous in the book context imagining the embarrassment and the lame efforts by Nabutaka at seducing the Sei. Another instance of humor can be found at the way Sei attempts to describe the way men leave their lover`s beds at dawn. “I do wish men, when they are taking their from a lady at dawn, wouldn`t insist on adjusting their clothes to a nicety, or fussily tying their lacquered cap into place” The above description gives a humorous description of the way men leave their lover`s dens in a hurry in order to maintain discretion (Shonagon, 2006).
In general, the author`s depiction of humor in The Pillow Book, shows the author`s easy attitude towards life. The vast instances of humor in the book contribute a great deal in giving insight on the author`s comic character.
Ghost World by Daniel Clowes is a comic book which contains endless instances of humor throughout its course. Clowes illustrates in plain language the normal life of a teenager. The graphic novel discusses how teenagers constantly change their appearances, beliefs and attitudes to define who they are. The book uses Enid, the main character, who abandons her friends, her home and transforms her physical appearance to fit in the society. Enid Coleshaw and Rebecca (Becky) are two teenage friends in the novel. After their graduation from high school, they spend their days wandering around an unnamed town criticizing the culture and everyone they encounter in their aimless conquest. The novel also brings out the development of teenage sexuality through the lives of Enid and Rebecca. The two teenagers end up attracted to Josh even though they happily entertain themselves that they might be lesbians. Nevertheless, these two draw apart as time goes by, especially when Enid makes up her mind to move away to college. Their mutual attraction to Josh also contributes to the end of their friendship as Josh finally takes sides and gets into a relationship with Rebecca.
Humor plays a great role in this novel by Daniel Clowes. Throughout the book, conversations between Enid and Becky give comic relief to readers as the author has also incorporated the use of contemporary language employed by teenagers in their daily lives. At one instance, the author treats the readers to humor when Enid in her art class, to the praise of many, draws a comic cartoon of a girl who places a tampon in a teacup. Becky also treats the audience to humor in a statement she makes showing her judging attitude towards everyone around her, “Some people are just OK, but mostly I just feel like poisoning everybody.” This statement is humorous considering the two teenagers quick judgment to everyone around them who they constantly referred to as Satanists. Seymour, a boy who engaged in a relationship with Enid for some time, also brings humor to the book through one of his statements, “You give them a Big Mac and a pair of Nikes and they`re happy. I can`t relate to ninety-nine percent of humanity.” This statement is humorous as it shows how Seymour views the society. In a conversation between Seymour and Enid, Enid states that, “I think only stupid people have good relationships.” Seymour then gives a humorous reply, “That`s the spirit.” This statement is utterly humorous as Seymour seems to be calling himself and Enid stupid, considering their relationship.
Through the endless accounts of humor in the graphic novel, “Ghost World”, the author uses humor to keep the conversations between the characters more interesting and lively. Humor is also used to portray characteristics of the characters in the play, and make the book a more interesting read.
Tartuffe is a play by Moliere that is used to depict the hypocritical actions of a scheming character, Tartuffe throughout the play. The play is enacted in Orgon`s house, where Madam Parnell, Orgon`s mother comes visiting. Her visit is however cut short as she supposedly finds their behavior immoral and decadent. Madam Parnell, however favors Tartuffe who earns her approbation as she is infatuated by his pious behavior and outlook. The others vehemently reject Madam Pernelle`s view, stating that Tartuffe is hypocritical and false. She nevertheless leaves her son`s house admonishing everyone else to follow Tartuffe`s precepts. The play soon unfolds showing Orgon`s displeasure for his brother Cleante, as Cleante disagrees with Orgon`s favored sentiments towards the hypocrite Organ. Organ is hard minded and goes to the extent of betrothing his daughter to Mariane to Tartuffe. Dorine, a servant in Orgon`s house, confronts her boss and openly tells Organ his ideas are ridiculous. The play unfolds to expose Tartuffe`s scheming ideas not only to marry Mariane, but also to acquire Orgon`s house and get him evicted through a well-planned scheme concealed in his pious behavior.
The play Tartuffe also ridicules Orgon by showing how mistaken his assumptios about Tarttuffe were. When everybody had left the house, Damis, Orgon`s son, who is incensed about revealing Tartuffe`s real character, hides in the closet when everyone else leaves the house. To his surprise, Elmire, Orgon`s wife arrives home to find herself alone with Tartuffe, who blatantly makes his professions of love to Elmire suggesting they become lovers. The playwright ridicules Orgon`s blind trust here to show him how mistaken his trust for Tartuffe was. This too is a form of himor used to ridicule and condemn people who trust blindly in the society we live in.
Humor is depicted in the play by showing how the characters are easily deceived. Madam Parnell is the first character to be deceived of Tartuffe`s piety. Humor is even portrayed from her consideration of Tartuffe as the authority as far as sin`s concerned. Her son Organ is also ridiculed by his actions which stretch as far as betrothing his own daughter to the hypocrite Tartuffe. The audience is also presented to a comic relief when Dorine, the house-help, compels Mariane and her fiancé Valere to kiss and make out after a heated argument. It is funny to see how two adults are treated to a reconciliatory act in a childish way.
Humor is incorporated through the use of actions by the play`s characters. This makes the play more interesting, and is also used to bring out human short-comings in trusting blindly, as is the case with Organ and Madam Parnell.
Sei Shonagon .The Pillow Book. Trans. Meredith McKinney. London: Penguin Books, 2006. Print.
Molière. Le Tartuffe ou l'Imposteur. Paris: Jean Ribov, 1669. Print.
Clowes, Daniel, and Terry Zwigoff. Ghost World: [screenplay]. Canada: Fantagraphics, 2000. Print.