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“Throughout comedy the emphasis is on human limitations rather than on human greatness” (John Morreal Comedy Tragedy and Religion). To what extent does Jez Butterworth focus on human weakness and ineptitude in his play ‘Jerusalem’?

Jez Butterworth’s ‘Jerusalem’ creates a comic vision focusing on the ambiguities, turmoil and hypocrisies of the society presented on stage. Butterworth focuses on the characters’ degeneracies in which the form of humour tends to be the exposure of their unruly behaviour and their reluctance to conform to social norms. “The most basic difference between comedy and tragedy lies in its central characters, who are not heroes, and often, as with Shakespeare’s Falstaff, are anti-heroic” The key character Johnny …show more content…

He seems to be mystified by his own outrageous nature- which more often than not render him helpless and lowly. It’s the teenagers who tell him how, when drunk, he has at various stages smashed his own TV during his party, and caused a “fracas” at his local pub. His reaction to all these stories is bewilderment “I’d never do that” and “that’s a mystery” which offer a complete lack of power and knowledge that he so clearly tries to maintain – and a slight bit of vulnerability on his part. Johnny’s weaknesses and ineptitude seem to be masked by wit and extensive stories but he is one of the main offenders for being affected by their own limitations – even if his are subtle. Therefore, through his characterisation of Rooster, Butterworth does emphasise and focus on Johnny’s limitations by either exploiting his vulnerability or using a community of opinions to degrade him.
On the other hand, Johnny’s greatness is also a focal point within the play. “Twenty years back, Johnny Byron was the Flintock fair” implies that he used to be the main source of entertainment- attaining an almost legendary status and some kind of mythical greatness. The rendition of his birth story “You get close and stare into those black eyes, watch out. Written there is old words that will shake you. Shake you down.” links to conversation with Dawn later on where after looking into his eyes does in fact start to shake. This makes us question just how powerful he actually is, does he have a hold

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