the psychology of laughter

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: CHAPTER III THE LUDICROUS We may now reverse the process. Suppose the child in playing with the ball sees one who does not know how to catch it; misses it every time; knocks himself against the ball without getting hold of it; slips, falls down, picks himself up and runs after the ball without being able to catch it. In short, the person is awkward, clumsy, finds difficulties where there are none. Friction appears where there should be smoothness; hardship is manifest where ease and grace are expected. The child laughs the laughter of triumph, not with the person, but at the person; from the height of his supposed efficiency or ideal of efficiency the child laughs the laughter of triumph at the deficiencies of the person—the person is ridiculed. Any supposed deficiency in appearance, in person, or in action is laughed at—is ridiculed. We are now in the domain of the comic. Children in school ridicule any clumsiness, awkwardness, or any personal deficiency; they make merry over the lame, the hunchback, the cross-eyed, the blind. For that matter, we find the same amusements among the uncultivated who make merry over the bodily defects of their neighbors and acquaintances. Old Homer, when he wishes to ridicule Thersites, presents the ancient demagogue as: ... ill favored beyond all men that came to Ilios. Bandy-legged was he, and lame of one foot, and hisshoulders rounded, arched down over his chest; and over them his head was warped, and a scanty stubble sprouted on it Victor Hugo, in his "Notre Dame de Paris," represents the crowd bursting into a thunder of applause and shouts of convulsive, derisive laughter at the sight of the ugly, misshapen, one-eyed, bandy-legged, huge-headed, splay-footed, thick-nosed, horseshoe-mouthed, double- humped, deformed monster hunchback...
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