Bathos

Bathos

by Adam Huddlestoon

The literary device this week is: bathos.  It is defined as the use of absurd metaphors, descriptions, or jokes that move a scene from seriousness to silliness.  Typically, an event occurs at the beginning of the scene that is solemn (such as a death), but through the dialogue or actions of the characters, the atmosphere becomes comedic.  An example given on literarydevices.net is that of an episode of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” where a clown is killed by a stampeding elephant.  The characters begin making jokes about it although Mary does not approve.  At the funeral, she begins laughing when she thinks about the jokes, while people around her stare in confusion.  

As a word of caution, if you choose to use bathos in a tense scene, use it sparingly so as not to destroy the mood if your intent was for it to be a somber scene. 

Happy writing!

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