B is for Bathos

baroque bourgeois barre
brusque ballet belligerence
briefly bowed bathos

senryu by M. LaFreniere, all rights reserved

No worries, I won’t do all the same alphabet words throughout the challenge. But it is a good way to practice words I don’t usually use although I know their meanings.  Bad habit with senryu is that often you use the same 1 to 3 syllable words and I really should stretch my repertoire.

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The Meaning of Bathos

Bathos is a new word for me.  In case other people don’t know the meaning:

from google search:

(especially in a work of literature) an effect of anticlimax created by an unintentional lapse in mood from the sublime to the trivial or ridiculous.

“his epic poem has passages of almost embarrassing bathos”


1a : the sudden appearance of the commonplace in otherwise elevated matter or style
1b : anticlimax
2 : exceptional commonplaceness : triteness
3 : insincere or overdone pathos : sentimentalism


a ludicrous descent from the exalted or lofty to the commonplace; anticlimax.
insincere pathos; sentimentality; mawkishness.
triteness or triviality in style

Cambridge English dictionary

.a sudden change from a beautiful or important subject to a silly or very ordinary one, especially when this is not intended

Literary Devices

Bathos is a literary term derived from a Greek word meaning “depth.” Bathos is the act of a writer or a poet falling into inconsequential and absurd metaphors, descriptions, or ideas in an effort to be increasingly emotional or passionate.

Some confuse bathos with “pathos.” The term was used by Alexander Pope to explain the blunders committed inadvertently by unskilled writers or poets. However, later on, comic writers used it intentionally to create humorous effects. The most commonly used bathos involves a sequence of items that descend from worthiness to silliness.

…. Bathos is a device which, if used skillfully, can really build up a nice comic scene. Bathos brings a certain degree of wit to a scene by highlighting the contrast in tone. Initially, it is used to create a serious and powerful dramatic situation. This might be slightly hard to create for comedy writers. Thus, comedy writers must be very careful when they insert jokes here and there in the middle of a serious scene. There is a great danger that their jokes will break the tempo of a serious scene in a prose.

TV Tropes

“Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.”— Joss Whedon
Bathos is a story-telling technique that follows serious ideas with the commonplace or ludicrous. The juxtaposition of these ideas creates humor.

It has its origins in poetry, where lofty prose would be followed with an anticlimax of sorts. It later evolved to cover any instance where the serious is mixed with the surreal or commonplace in order to provide humor.

The trope name comes from Alexander Pope, who wrote Peri Bathous, Or the Art of Sinking in Poetry in 1727, in which he mocks the abuse of tropes and figures of speech by bad writers. In it, he notes that juxtaposing the serious and the trivial creates unintentional humor, which sinks serious poetry. As such, unintentional bathos is considered Narm.

Bathos most often appears in intentionally comedic works or those with a comedic undertone, like that of Surreal Humor, although not always. On the Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness, works of bathos either sit firmly in the middle or wildly slide up and down. Bathos may cause Mood Whiplash when it does not appear in an otherwise comedic segment of the work.

And that’s all folks for Bathos

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