What Are Examples of Bathos?

Examples of bathos can be found in many films and television series, says Literary Devices. The Mary Tyler Moore Show used bathos in an episode when a stampeding elephant kills Chuckles the Clown. Mary doesn't approve of the jokes her colleagues make, but starts laughing hysterically during Chuckles' funeral.

Bathos is a literary technique that uses comical or mundane metaphors to contrast emotional or dramatic themes. The film "The Naked Gun" uses bathos often when a serious scenario is built up only for Frank Drebin's silly comments to knock it down. For example, when a hoodlum kills a cop, Frank's colleague Ed laments that it's "no way for a man to die." Frank follows up this statement with various comical ways for a man to die instead: "A parachute not opening … that’s a way to die, getting caught in the gears of a combine … "

The British radio series, "I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again," also provides examples of bathos. John Cleese and Jo Kendall appear as a couple discussing their failing marriage. The wife makes a serious comment about what they've lost, and Cleese's character then makes light of it.

Bathos can be used in serious writing as well. Jane Austen used bathos in her novel "Northanger Abbey" to give a sense of merriness and highlight the imaginative nature of Catherine Morland, the main character, in order to parody Ann Radcliffe's more serious Gothic novels.