Sunday, October 28, 2007

wit (multiple definitions)

Wit is an intelligence that was played with in the 17th century. At this time the idea of wit had several meanings and purposes. It was commonly used to make an understanding of either political views, social comedy, or any other matter in which it took a level of intelligence to understand. One prime example of wit is John Dryden’s Mac Flecknoe. In this poem, Dryden writes using a mock heroic style to create a humorous tone of the Thomas Shadwell and his right to the throne of dullness. Wit is used here in that it is not just Shadwell who Dryden is speaking of, but also Shadwell’s political views of he Whig party.
Another great example is the humorous Country Wife by Wycherley. The entire play is based upon wit in which Hornor will outwit or outsmart the other men of the play by sleeping with their women. The most obvious scene where wit is used is in the china scene when all on stage are talking about china, but Horner, the Lady Fidget, and the audience know it is not really about the china.
Wit was used to show off the mastery of deceiving someone by ridiculing them right in front of their noses and they don’t even knowing it.
Leon Khela


Shawn G said...

According to Professor Batten, Wit refers to the quality that allows individuals to find similarities in unlike things. The antithesis to this, judgment, takes two similar things and points out differences between them. In Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel he uses wit to compare the exclusion crisis in England to a well known biblical story. And although the two story lines did in fact share many characteristics, Dryden's wit bridged the gap between the centuries that separated them, allowing the audience of the poem to see the similarities. In effect, this comparison put the two separate events into perspective and also furthered the poet's Tory ideology.

P.J. said...

Both these definitions are good, and Shawn's term includes Batten's specific terminology as well, which will be critical to your ability respond to related questions on the midterm. What I'd like to see more of is how the use of wit contributes to 1) works as a whole and 2) how characters perceive themselves and one another from this standpoint. - PJE