Drama Throughout Literature

An outlook of how Drama has changed over time since the 16th Century

  • Created by: Ella
  • Created on: 17-05-13 12:48

A Summary of Drama

Drama began more oral based where performance were brought to audiences by travelling performers around the country. With the Renaissance, theatre became a more established form of entertainment with playwrights such as Shakespeare utilising the form to explore the human condition. He also used satire and further developed the form of tragedy. Drama then shifted from the mainstream entertainment to upper-class entertainment and plays continued their focus on satire. Theatre then adopted a naturalistic style before eventually progressing to more abstract theatre convections which explored political themes (1900s). 20th Century theatre is characterised by individual experiences and the exploration of the human condition, as well the re-examination and re-interpretation of classic plays.

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Key Drama Genres

Comedy- A dramatic work that is light and often humorous or satirical in tone and that usually contains a happy resolution of the thematic conflict. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/comedy
Tragedy- A drama or literary work in which the main character is brought to ruin or suffers extreme sorrow, especially as a consequence of a tragic flaw, moral weakness, or inability to cope with unfavorable circumstances. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/tragedy
Restoration Comedy - Style of English theatre, dating from the Restoration period. The genre placed much emphasis on wit and sexual intrigues. It also witnessed the first appearance of women on the English stage, most notably in the ‘breeches part’, specially created in order to costume the actress in male attire, thus revealing her figure to its best advantage. http://www.talktalk.co.uk/reference/encyclopaedia/hutchinson/m0020040.html
Realism- Realism was a general movement in 19th Century theatre that developed a set of dramatic and theatrical conventions with the aim of bringing a greater fidelity of real life to texts /performances. It shared many stylistic choices with naturalism, including a focus on everyday (middle-class) drama, colloquial speech, and mundane settings. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realism_%28theatre%29

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Timeline of the Development of Drama

16th Century- Oral performances, Shakespeare - Tragedies/ Comedies, Theatre popular with the masses

17th Century- Civil War (1642 - 51) where the theatres were closed by the Puritans, 1660- theatres were re-open, Congreve - Restoration Comedy (also early 18th Century)

18th Century- Shift to the upper classes

19th Century- Realism and Naturalism (1800s), 1823 -1906 Ibsen, Poetry/ prose becomes more dominant genres

20th Century- Political themes, Brecht, 1968- Chamberlain was no longer allowed to censor plays. Possible to write about sexual relationships, epic-theatre, Harold Pinter

21st Century- Kitchen Sink Drama

Pre-occupied with problems and difficulties throughout

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Two Gentlemen of Verona (1590)

- Courtly lover - 'I fly away from life' found in Valentine's soliloquy. Links losing love with losing his life. The metaphor of flight suggests that he wants to escape from his loss.
- Love that creates pain - 'Why not death, rather than living torment?' Juxtaposes death and living, showing how the character could see a fine line between the both. Upset/ miserable.
- Love and determination 'By seven o'clock I'll get you such a ladder', also links to the idea of a courtly lover as he will place himself in danger for love.
- Love as powerful/ love as selfish- 'Trust me, she is peevish, sullen, froward, disobedient, stubborn, lacking in duty, neither regarding that she is my child' Listing bad images of her so he can try and persuade Valentine off and keep the love of his daughter for himself.

The name of a character can be said to be carefully chosen in order to reflect the character's nature or the plot in general. For example Valentine has the connotations of being a hero or romantic. Later in literature is The Importance of Being Earnest who also uses the mysterious name of 'Ernest' to try and persuade Gwendolen to marry him as his normal name of 'Jack' is seen as quite mundane for her.

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Othello - 1603

There were very few black people living in England in the late 16th Century, therefore those that were were an unfamiliar sight and could provoke feelings of distrust and mystery. Sexual potency was also one of the attributes of the stereotyped black in the average white mind.
- Setting 'Venice'- Pathetic Fallacy, has connotations of being a romantic and sexual place as well as hot/humid which can lead to anger and rage.
- Loss of love/ Unfaithful love - 'Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see: She has deceived her father, and may thee'- Uses a rhyming couplet which could give the idea of two things/ people who were together as one. Also typical of a sonnet which is typically associated with love. Also the use of colloquial language of the 'Moor'.
- Jealousy associated with love- 'O beware my lord, of jealousy' 'green eyed monster' = metaphor
- Ideas of infidelity or sexual relationships - 'This is some minx's token' 'You! Mistress!' minx = colloquial as well as connotations of someone who is unfaithful or untrusted in relationships
- Courtly Love/ Sensitivity- 'Killing myself to die upon a kiss' [kisses Desdemona] [and dies] - cannot live without her. The stage direction of [kisses] also shows visual evidence about how he still has feelings and emotions towards her. Sensitivity.

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The Importance Of Being Earnest- Oscar Wilde(1890s

Key Terms:
Aestheticism- The Aesthetic movement is a 19th century European movement that emphasised aesthetic values over moral or social themes in literature
Decadence - Moral or cultural decline, especially after a peak of achievement or behaviour reflecting such a decline
Victorian Moralism- Is a distillation of the moral views of people living at the time of Queen Victoria's reign (1837 - 1901)
Art for Arts Sake- The intrinsic value of art is not linked in anyway to a moral
Walter Pater- Was an English essayist, critic of art and literature, and a write of fiction (auagust 1839 - July 1894)
-Love as idyllic - 'Yes well you don't say it'Gwendolen, will you marry me? [goes down on one knee]'- She is in control, adds to the humour of the play as in the Victorian era the typical assumption was made that women were passive and dependant. Turning of typical gender roles was seen as humorous.Uses stage directions.
- Mocking society/ Sexual love - 'The only way to behave to a woman is to make love to her, if she is pretty, and to someone else, if she is plain'- objectifying women, seeing them as useful for only one thing. Trying to impress his friend/ brother (as he later finds).

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Shadowlands- William Nicholson (1985)

The story follows Lewis as he meets an American fan, Joy Gresham, whom he befriends and eventually marries. The story also deals with his struggle with personal pain and grief: Lewis preaches that one should endure suffering with patience, but finds that the simple answers he had preached no longer apply when Joy becomes afflicted with cancer and eventually dies.
- Pain of love-  'no shadows here. Only darkness, and silence, and the pain that cries like a child'- triadic structure, lists 3 main emotions that the character is feeling. Personification/ simile of 'cries like a child' could suggest they now feel vulnerable like a child.
- Love that challenges religious faith- 'God knows. Yes God knows... but does God care?'
- The loss of love- 'Your grief is your business' - Loss of love creates isolation that others find difficult to engage with.

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