In a tragedy, there is some sort of sadness that occurs. Often the archetype for a tragedy involves a fallen hero. This is a tragic character because for all reasons the character is a good person. Yet, bad things happen to the hero. Tragedies usually end with more tragedy. This means the fallen hero never regains his stature. Examples of tragedy in classic drama would include Oedipus Rex, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and the like. All of the above examples are dramatic tragedies which usually involve a degree of irony. These tragedies also involve a degree of unfairness that the hero must deal with. In a tragedy, there are circumstances which prevent happiness. These circumstances are traditionally out of the control of the characters. The circumstances damage the characters. In Oedipus Rex, the main character deals with guilt, though he is innocent. In tragedy, the irony is not funny, but it is sad.

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In comedy, the opposite of tragedy happens. There is some sort of humor which is involved in a comedy. Examples of common comedy archetypes are the opposite of the archetypes of tragedy. The audience sees an undeserving character treated as a hero, such as a farce. Or, in the case of romantic comedies, unlike Romeo and Juliet, the characters end happily in love after a series of ironic obstacles. A satire is one of the more complex forms of comedy, usually involving some sort of ironic implications. Satires tend towards political issues. In comedies, the audience expects one thing, but is given something different. The difference between the expectations of the audience with what is delivered onstage is where the degree of humor is created. Comedies are actually much like tragedies for they involve circumstances of which the characters are not in control. The difference is that these circumstances in a comedy, unlike a tragedy, benefit the characters.