Academic journal article Journal of Literary Studies

The Humorous Depiction of Characters in the Prose Works of S.M. Burns-Ncamashe

Academic journal article Journal of Literary Studies

The Humorous Depiction of Characters in the Prose Works of S.M. Burns-Ncamashe

Article excerpt


The purpose of this article is to discuss and evaluate the employment of humour in the depiction of characters in the prose works of S. M. Burns-Ncamashe, as humour tends to manifest itself significantly in this aspect. This humorous depiction of characters is discussed with emphasis laid on the various methods of character portrayal that display the employment of humour. Each method is discussed in terms of its theory and application. An evaluation of Burns-Ncamashe's use of humour in depicting characters is made part of the concluding section, in which some findings are highlighted. Devices of humour that are employed by the author are spotlighted within the discussion.


Die doel van hierdie artikel is om die aanwending van humor in die uitbeelding van karakters in die prosawerke van S.M. Burns-Ncamashe te bespreek en te evalueer, omdat humor in hierdie opsig sigself pertinent manifesteer.

Hierdie humorisriese uitbeelding van karakters word bespreek met die klein op die verskeie tegnieke van karakteruitbeelding wat die gebruik van humor uitbeeld. Elke metode word bespreek in terme van die teorie en toepassing daarvan. 'n Evaluering van Bums-Ncamashe se gebruik van humor in die uitbeelding van karakters vorm deel van die afsluiting waarin sommige van die bevindinge uitgelig word. Die verskeie humortegnieke wat deur die skrywer aangewend is, word ook ontleed.


S.M. Burns-Ncamashe's depiction of characters in his prose displays an extensive employment of humour. This is not surprising as the author himself was a humorist by nature. The idea of him having been a humorist and the manifestation of this element in his writings are confirmed by Pahl in the introductory part of Burns-Ncamashe (1979), where he points out that Burns-Ncamashe's writings are full of humour and that, wherever Burns-Ncamashe would be, people would not stop laughing because of his humorous nature. It is for the manifestation of this aspect in the depiction of characters in the prose works of Bumso-Ncamashe that the discussion in this paper is undertaken. The prose works that will be considered for this discussion include Burns-Ncamashe's short stories which are contained in Masibaliselane (1961) and Dimbaza (1970). In this discussion attention will be given to the definition of the concept of humour and the various modes of character depiction that display humour. These modes include the humorous description of characters, humorous dialogue, humorous soliloquy, humorous monologues and humorous names.

Humour Defined

The adjective "humorous" is derived from the noun "humour". It is therefore significant to define humour before commencing with the discussion in this paper, to have a clearer idea of what the paper is all about. The definition of humour is discussed by Mturnane (2001) as follows:

Humour is not an easy concept to define. Pirandello (1960:107) views this difficulty as being caused by the infinite varieties and characteristics of the phenomenon. This difficulty may also be the reason why Lewis (1989: x) views a clear-cut definition of humour as impossible, and maintains that it can only be described by means of a series of generalisations. However, in spite of this difficulty, this study wishes to give the opinion of the author about what humour is. This opinion will be based on definitions that are already in existence.

The word "humour" originates from the Latin word humores, which means a balanced mixture of the body fluids. These fluids include phlegm, choler and melancholy (Matthew 1969:115; Nutting 1976: 5). Normally, the imbalance of these body fluids may result in abnormal behaviour by the person and incite laughter in the observer. While in literature humour is not used to signify these body fluids, its employment has some connection with their state, as Pirandello (1960:103) contends that humour must originate out of a special state of mind. …

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