In tragedy, if I may be allowed to make my meaning plain by a comparison, the monarchical constitution prevails, but a monarchy without despotism, such as it was in the heroic times of the Greeks: everything yields a willing obedience to the dignity of the heroic sceptre. Comedy, on the other hand, is the democracy of poetry, and is more inclined even to the confusion of anarchy than to any circumscription of the general liberty of its mental powers and purposes, and even of its separate thoughts, sallies, and allusions.
Whatever is dignified, noble, and grand in human nature, admits only of a serious and earnest representation; for whoever attempts to represent it, feels himself, as it were, in the presence of a superior being, and is consequently awed and restrained by it. The comic poet, therefore, must divest his characters of all such qualities; he must place himself without the sphere of them; nay, even deny altogether their existence, and form an ideal of human nature the direct opposite of that of the tragedians, namely, as the odious and base. But as the tragic ideal is not a collective model of all possible virtues, so neither does this converse ideality consist in an aggregation, nowhere to be found in real life, of all moral enormities and marks of degeneracy, but rather in a dependence on the animal part of human nature, in that want of freedom and independence, that want of coherence, those inconsistencies of the inward man, in which all folly and infatuation originate.