Final paper - Will Cliff - 903631044 5/26/10 Scandinavian...

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Will Cliff - 903631044 5/26/10 Scandinavian Literature 50W Professor Patrick Wen – TA Christie Nittrouer Scandinavian Literature’s Tendency to Use Comedy and the Highlighting of the Outsider to Critique Societal Norms Perhaps one of the most vital themes seen throughout Scandinavian literature is that the pieces of work—from novels, to sagas, to plays, to film—all draw attention to the outsider. It is through these individual characters, or groups of characters, that present the audience or readers with underlying Scandinavian societal issues such as class and gender roles. While Scandinavian artists exercised all writing forms, one that is particularly effective in analyzing societal issues is comedy. Two famous Scandinavian writers that utilize comedic writing are Ludvig Holberg and Hans Christian Anderson with their respective pieces Jeppe of the Hill , The Emperor’s New Clothes , and The Ugly Duckling . Comedy allows for a light and easy way to present issues that otherwise people would not want to discuss. The ridiculousness can be accentuated and blown into more epic proportion as people can simply laugh in reaction. Through the use of comedy as a tool to critique societal norms of class, gender, and individuality, the tales Jeppe of the Hill , The Emperor’s New Clothes , The Ugly Duckling , and the film Together are able to evoke sensible emotion from the audience as they highlight the outsider in an effort to promote equality and the preservation of life. Ludvig Holberg, the writer of Jeppe of the Hill , uses comedy to illustrate the abuse of power the elite Scandinavian population bestow upon the larger, lower class and challenge the traditional hierarchical system as a whole. The humorous, yet deeply mean spirited prank the Baron and his Valet play on Jeppe , the protagonist and outsider of the story who is a pathetic, irresponsible, drunk peasant, is an effort to reveal the unjust actions that result from the Scandinavian hierarchical system in place. Each of the characters represent extremes of the classes in the Scandinavian society— Jeppe representing the lower class and the Baron and his assemblymen representing the more sophisticated upper class. It is the humor in the story that allows for such extremes to represent the classes of society. While the prank is in full swing the Baron says: “But we were almost the bigger fools because of his determination to tyrannize to the point where we would either have had to ruin the charade or allow ourselves to be mistreated by that coarse peasant. We can learn from his behavior how tyrannical and arrogant such people become who are suddenly thrust from the gutter into positions of honor and nobility.” (Anderson 51-130) This pompous and arrogant statement regarding the entire lower class of society reveals the attitude of the upper class towards the lower class. Such a rude, self- consumed statement would not be as effective in a non-comedic, more dramatic storyline.
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It forces the audience to take a step back and realize what the Baron has done. Is the
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This note was uploaded on 09/20/2011 for the course SCAND LIT 50w taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '11 term at UCLA.

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Final paper - Will Cliff - 903631044 5/26/10 Scandinavian...

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