Quotation by John Jay Chapman

The stuff of which tragedy and comedy are made is the same stuff. The foibles of mankind work up more easily into comedy than into tragedy, and this is the chief difference between the two. We readily understand the Nemesis of temperament, the fatality of character, when it is exposed on a small scale. This is the business of comedy; and we do not here require the labored artifice of gods, mechanical plot, and pointed allegory to make us realize the moral. But in tragedy we have the large scale to deal with. A tragedy is always the same thing. It is a world of complicated and traditional stage devices for making us realize the helplessness of mankind before destiny. We are told from the start to expect the worst: there is going to be suffering, and the suffering is going to be logical, inevitable, necessary. There is also an implication to be conveyed that this suffering is somehow in accord with the moral constitution of the universe.
John Jay Chapman (1862–1933), U.S. author. (repr. By Books for Libraries, 1968). "The Comic," Learning and Other Essays (1910).
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