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Humour in Tristram Shandy

Generally the term humor is synonymous for something that creates laughter. Humor is used by the writers to amuse the readers by making them laugh while reading the story. It’s propose is to make the readers come out of their boring monotonous life and make them laugh with the story . Humorous induced with the help of different elements like satire sarcasm irony etc.
    In the novel Tristram Shandy, the author uses humor to keep the readers intact to the pages. With the help of the characters of uncle Toby and Walter shandy, the main source of humour in the novel is witnessed. Their characterization is done in such a way which makes the readers laugh and enjoy the story. Walter shandy’s illogical theories provide the maximum humour.
   Sterne’s usage of the term ‘hobby horse’ with the addition of a humorous element is seen very widely in the story. Hobby horses introduced in Tristram Shandy act as the backbone of the story. We can see Tristram Shandy put out writing as his hobby as he enjoys putting out his story a lot. Later it is observed that almost all the characters in the novel have certain hobbies some quite weird and funny that add to the humour of the novel. Tristram uses the word hobby horse to foretell a variety of attitudes. There maybe a wide range of hobby horses like butterfly collecting fiddle playing etc. However Tristram uses the term for something broader to describe intellectual passion that include political causes or academic research. In terms of uncle Toby, hobby horse is a mode of escape from his monotonous life that has no amusement.  Uncle Toby’s groin injury also adds to some extent of humour in the novel. Because of his groin injury he is barred from performing sexual activities which later creates complications in his relationship with widow Wadman. In order to overcome the frustration associated with his groin injury uncle Toby is forced to study on the subject and help him provide a mental relief.
   The character of Walter Shandy provides humor to the story through his illogical theories about life. He spends much of his time in planning about the work rather than actually doing it. In fact he decides to write an entire book named Tristampaedia about the ways on nurturing his son and giving him a good support and care. However the irony related with this situation is that he spends so much of his time writing the book that he actually forgets to imply those methods to nurture his feeble son in real life. Thus Walter shandy has a lot to provide to the humor content in the book.
    The incident of Tristram’s  birth is filled with chaos. The good part about this is that the birth of Tristram shandy also contributes the large portion of the total humour in the novel. Tristram’s mother conceives him in an unlucky moment because while trying to conceive, Walter Shandy took a minute to deliver his speech which delayed in conceiving Tristram. While delivering the baby, Dr Slop cut the baby’s nose and recreated it with a prop. Tristram gets an uneven nose that makes his face comical. The doctor cuts Toby’s hands with his forceps. The maidservant falls down the stairs. In short the entire scene of Tristram’s birth provides and amusing comical effect in the minds of the readers.
     The other characters also contribute to the humour of the novel to some extent. The character of Trim also bring some comic effect to the novel. Dr Slop is another such character in the novel that is related to humour. Tristram Shandy himself as the narrator also provides great humor to the story.
   An underline tragedy is hidden behind the humour in Tristram Shandy, which is related to the isolation of the characters, their lack of sexual fulfillment, etc. Sterne uses such a narrative technique in his novel that would bring laughter and tears in the readers at the same time. He combines both 18th century in modern interpretations of humor to make the novel a unique one.

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