Bathos is a literary term derived from a Greek phrase meaning “depth.” Bathos is the act of a creator or a poet falling into inconsequential and absurd metaphors, descriptions, or ideas which will be increasingly more emotional or passionate.
Some confuse bathos with “pathos.” The term became used by Alexander Pope to provide an explanation for the blunders committed inadvertently by unskilled writers or poets. However, later on, comedian writers used it intentionally to create humorous effects. The most usually used bathos involves a series of gadgets that descend from worthiness to silliness.
Examples of Bathos in Literature
Example #1: The Mary Tyler Moore Show (By James L. Brooks and Allan Burns)
The Mary Tyler Moore Show had an episode that involved the loss of life of the clown Chuckles, who become killed very brutally by using a stampeding elephant. Everyone at the station maintains making jokes about it that Mary does no longer approve of. Later on, when she attends the funeral, she starts offevolved guffawing hysterically even as the relaxation of the human beings stare at her exasperated.
Example #2: The Naked Gun (By David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker, Pat Proft)
Absurd varieties of humor can use the bathos method. Such is the television collection Police Squad!, which uses bathos very often. Excerpts from The Naked Gun display severa factors in which a severe situation is constructed up handiest to knock it down sooner or later with Frank Drebin’s stupid comments. For example:
FRANK: “A suitable cop – pointlessly cut down by way of some spineless hoodlums.”
ED: “That’s no way for a person to die.”
FRANK: “No … you’re right, Ed. A parachute no longer opening … that’s a manner to die, getting caught in the gears of a combine … having your nuts bit off by way of a Laplander, that’s the manner I want to go!”
WILMA NORDBERG: “Oh … Frank. This is terrible!”
ED: “Don’t you worry, Wilma. Your husband goes to be alright. Don’t you worry approximately anything! Just assume positive. Never allow a doubt input your mind.”
FRANK: “He’s right, Wilma. But I wouldn’t wait until the last minute to fill out those organ donor cards.” (The Naked Gun, 1988)
Example #3: Northanger Abbey (By Jane Austen)
Jane Austen is the various few critical writers who used this tool. It helped her deliver a sense of merriness to her novel Northanger Abbey. In this novel, Austen highlights the ingenuous and imaginitive nature of the leading individual, Catherine Morland. She uses Catherine’s increasingly more energetic imagination to paintings like bathos so one can parody the plot utilized in Ann Radcliffe’s Gothic novels, and the likes of her.
In Radcliff’s The Romance of the Forest, a person finds a human skeleton within the chest. In Northanger Abbey, Austen makes use of a mysterious chest in her story as a prop to build on, and to efficaciously satirize the extremes of the Gothic fiction of the 18th century.
Catherine have become skeptical while she noticed the extensive chest in her room at some stage in her live at the Abbey. Certain questions arose in her mind approximately that chest, and approximately what it held, and why it become located in her room. Catherine, who regarded to be very naïve, went on investigating the chest.
You can see that the radical at this precise factor adopts a very gothic tone. It begins using short clauses that include many inauspicious words, for instance “trembling hands,” “alarming violence,” and “worried curiosity.” The selection of phrases at this point aids in constructing up the suspense inside the readers’ and audience’s minds, most effective to discover therefore that the chest holds most effective a folded bed sheet.
Example #4: I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again (BBC Radio Comedy)
The British radio collection I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again also affords us with many bathos examples. John Cleese and Jo Kendall regarded inside the roles of a couple whose dating is on the brink of failure.
MARY: “John – as soon as we had something that turned into pure, and wonderful, and true. What’s happened to it?”
JOHN: “You spent it all.”
When Mary says “some thing natural and wonderful,” she is absolutely regarding the deep, sacred, noble form of love. However, the description is vague enough for John to manipulate.
Function of Bathos
Bathos is a tool which, if used skillfully, can genuinely build up a nice comedian scene. Bathos brings a positive degree of wit to a scene with the aid of highlighting the evaluation in tone. Initially, it's miles used to create a extreme and powerful dramatic situation. This might be slightly difficult to create for comedy writers. Thus, comedy writers ought to be very careful when they insert jokes right here and there within the center of a severe scene. There is a outstanding risk that their jokes will destroy the tempo of a serious scene in a prose.
Popular Literary Devices
- Ad Hominem
- Deus Ex Machina
- Double Entendre
- Flash Forward
- Half Rhyme
- Internal Rhyme
- Line Break
- Non Sequitur
- Pathetic Fallacy
- Poetic Justice
- Point of View
- Red Herring
- Tragic Flaw