The History Boys Comedy Essay

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The History Boys Essay
13. “Brilliantly funny….but by the end, tears are as near as laughter.” To what extent can we read The History boys as comedy?

One of the key factors that makes the History Boys such an iconic play is its witty comedic effect throughout the entire book. Using various techniques, such as parody, contrasting characters and clever juxtapositions within the plot, intelligent metaphors, bathos and many more. But at first glance the history boys could seem a typical dramatic themed book with a group of characters restricted almost entirely to a single location and a short period of time however looking deeper into the play you begin to notice the comedy reveal before your eyes.

Within Hector’s French lesson, the
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I know that, Dorothy. But I am thinking league tables.” Furthermore the fact the French scene is allowed to go ahead in lessons demonstrates the boys and Hector are willing to cheekily challenge and mock authority figures with their intelligence, all knowing French to a better degree than the Headmaster. The use of “ma tante!” creates bathos for the pretend character with “tante” showing desperation for ideas to keep the lie going. The following questioning “sa tante?” by the Headmaster and Timms’ reply of “la famille entiere” as if the headmaster missed something embarrassingly obvious adds to the comedy because the boys team up with each other to justify and ridicule the headmaster. Irwin’s unexpected input of “Il est commotionné, peut-etre?” is another example of Bennett’s clever character juxtapositions but also of using unexpected events to contrast what was being done before it, with the stage directions of “the classroom falls silent” suggesting that the boys’ found it rude and out of place for Irwin to but in. The language “fall silent” contrasts with the hectic and the loud situation that occurred before it, using Irwin’s awkwardness to change the tone of the scene. Hector not knowing what the word means and using the interrogative “comment?” adds to this awkwardness.
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