Humor is an element of literature and can be used differently for different purposes. This is an analysis of “Love is a Fallacy” using some of the elements from Roberts and Zweig, and from other sources, to understand the role of humor in the story.
There are certain elements from Roberts and Zweig that Shulman has used. There is the use of patterns of thought (Newkirk 31). The whole story is a journey that the writer takes the reader slowly through. There is the beginning which gives the reader the scope of the story. Nevertheless, the second part where the reader is directed to the beginning of the problem, how the problem manifested, and how the author came up with a solution. The author begins by telling the reader that he was intelligent, cool and logical. This already gives the reader an idea that whatever story the author is about to say, is against logic. The author then goes ahead to start telling the story of how the illogical situation, that made him come to a certain conclusion, occurred. He introduces the characters, who he thought was stupid. Then goes ahead and explains to the reader how he exercised his intelligence, only for the results to go against logic. In the end, the author of the story concluded that love is a fallacy. Within the story, the author’s thoughts can be easily identified, and he leads the readers so that they can easily identify the next step. An example is; teaching Polly about the fallacies, in the middle of the story. Close to the end, any reader will expect Polly to use such fallacies against him. This happens before the story ends (Shulman).
Shulman has also used the element of engaging the reader (Newkirk 31). The author engages the reader by taking him through his thought during the story. An example is a section where he describes how he would get the Racoon coat that Petey needed so much. He tells the reader how he thought he was intelligent by the thought of bringing his father’s Racoon coat to Petey, after an exclamation of “anything?”, which was a response to Petey’s declarations on his need for a Racoon coat (Shulman).
There are other humor devices not used by Roberts and Zweig but are used in the story. There are incidents of irony in the story. This Racoon coat which Shulman thought was useless and was the key to giving Polly the girl. Shulman thought he was intelligent, only for his intelligence to be beaten by mere fallacy. The stupid ones turned out to be the winners in the end. Shulman tells a story of how he used his intelligence to get Polly, only for the ‘stupid’ Polly and Petey to get back together (Shulman).
Humor holds almost all the elements of the story. It holds the continuity of the story. The use of humor helps in developing the character to present the exact tone, plot, and story as intended by the author. The author wants the readers to understand how humorous the story is. How is it that with all that intelligence, he still becomes the loser in the end? He explains how he becomes a loser and develops a humorous character; a character that is not afraid to show off what he thought was his intelligence. Humor also influences the tone of the story. The story is obviously humorous with most parts of the story making the reader laugh at the unfolding events. An example is how Polly learned about Shulman’s fallacies and used them against him (Shulman).
The author of the story has used satiric humor to laugh at himself for who he is (Bellamy 127; Jill 59). Humor has been used to make the readers understand more about perception. According to the author, the approach taken to make Polly fall in love with him was the logical one, yet Petey has the unexplained means which end up working out for him. Petey faces the conflict of wanting a Racoon coat but does not want to lose Polly. The author wants Polly, she is not all that he wants, but he can change her to become what he really desires. Satiric humor has been used to show how these conflicts were easily solved because of the nature of the characters.
Humor comes when the audience figures out how the punch line fulfills their expectations (Goatly 282; Jill 59). In the story, the readers expect to know how love is a fallacy. The humor leads the reader to understand how love is a fallacy. According to the story, fallacies are those ideas of generalizations without facts. Here is Shulman with a good idea about logic. It would be reasonable to have Polly the lady if he teaches her some logic. Yet after teaching her how to reason logically, she still goes ahead and plans to steady with Petey. The humorous story explains how there is no logical explanation to love.
Bellamy, Gladys Carmen. Mark Twain as a Literary Artist. Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2012. Print.
Goatly, Andrew. Meaning and Humour. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Print.
Jill, Patterson. A laughing matter: Humor collections. Library Journal. 123. 6 (1998): 59. Print.
Newkirk, Thomas. How We Really Comprehend Nonfiction. Educational Leadership. 69. 6 (2012): 29-32. Print.
Shulman, Max. Love Is a Fallacy (1951). (1919-1988).