2006 0-7734-5774-7 Northrop Frye, in his Anatomy of Criticism, identified four main myths: Comedy, Romance, Tragedy, and Irony/Satire. These were essentially genres, each of which move through six phases. Frye believed a critic could simply organize literature into these phases to show that literature formed ‘an ideal order.’ For each of these phases, Frye identified typical narrative structures and characteristics – primal myths in which humanity was and is consistently concerned. Comedy is the reconciliation of the protagonist with his community at the end, Romance is like a knight’s quest, Tragedy shows us a hero’s separation from his society, and Irony/Satire gives us the everyday difficulties and dissembling of life.
This book shows how Anatomy of Criticism could categorize not only written literature but also 20th- century film. The book matches Frye’s Irony/Satire mythos to Film Noir (fascination with everyday crime), and the Tragedy mythos to the War film (almost always tragic on some level). It equates the Romance mythos to the Western film genre (as Morris Bishop, the medieval historian has said, the western hero is very much the modern-day knight), and Comedy to the comedy genre.