Forms of Play Notes Study Material

Forms of Play Notes Study Material

Forms of Play Notes Study Material: Welcome to my friends. Today we learn about the Forms of Play Books Notes Study Material. Drama and Novel is one of the most important part of English Literature. Here, we will discuss types or Forms of Play Notes Study Material.

Forms of Play Notes Study Material
Forms of Play Notes Study Material

Forms of Play Notes Study Material

1. Tragedy 

Tragedy is a play that ends with a note of sorrow. It deals with the dark side of life. It arouses pity and fear in us by depicting hero to be invariably suffering. The Greek tragedy deals with the fate of characters of high birth and reputation as princes, kings etc. According to Aristotle, the aim of tragedy is to arouse pity and fear. It purges the emotions through pity and terror. (Forms of Play Notes Study Material)

Aeschylus (525-456 BC), Sophocles (496-406 BC) and Euripides (480-400 BC) are the famous Greek writers of tragedy. Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville wrote the first English tragedy ‘Gorboduc’ (1561). The Kyd wrote ‘The Spanish Tragedy’.

Shakespeare is the most famous writer of tragedy in English literature. He wrote his major tragedies ‘Hamlet’, ‘Macbeth’, ‘King Lear’ and ‘Othello’. Tragedy may be classified as firstly “The Classical Tragedy’ and secondly “The Romantic Tragedy”. The classical tragedy was entirely based on Greek conventions whereas romantic tragedy followed its own rules and regulations paying little respect to authority.

One of the main characteristics of the classical tragedy is its ‘Chorus’ which consisted of a group of actors who would report what happened off the stage. Its function was to make such moral comments from time to time during the action of the play as would deepen the desired effect. It was almost an integral part of the play. Greek writers introduced chorus in their tragedies. Norton, Sackville and Kyd followed them. Ben Jonson, Dryden, T.S. Eliot, Racine, Voltaire etc. followed classical conventions. (Forms of Play Notes Study Material)

2. Comedy

From the earliest times drama has been divided into two kinds, and comedy is one of its kind.

Comedy deals with the light side of life. Comedy aims at evoking our laughter. It is said that “All is well, that ends well”, and so is the case with comedy. Though the fortune may be rude for a while, but all comes right towards the end.

Comedy deals with the people of very less importance. It does not have any relation with the people having high birth and station and their household affairs. In ancient Greece, the comic character was supposed to put on a light shoe, generally called the sock, to exhibit his lower status.

In later literature, we have many such comedies which deal with the upper strata of the society. Some of the most unforgettable figures in Shakespeare’s comedies are people of high status and prestige such as Sir Toby Belch, Portia and Rosalind are some such notable characters.

3. Romance

It was a return to the splendid outburst of literature in the era of Renaissance. The same unbrilled imagination, the same glow of passion that had characterised Elizabethan literature were revived in the form of romance in the literature of the age of Wordsworth. The literary movement known as the Romantic Revival, was a revolt against the classical creed of the eighteenth century. It was a revival of the romance and its spirit was of the Elizabethan age.

Romance came again in modern age with fullness of imagination, richness of language, vastness of conception, lyricism and picturesqueness. The glimpses of romance can be traced in literature again, specially in the poetry of the age of Wordsworth.

4. History Plays

We find special quality in historical plays. That is people and events that are distant in time. A special development of this has been the retelling of classical stories with a modern application. T.S. Eliot’s last three plays have been based on Greek themes. O’Neill’s ‘Mourning Becomes Electra’ is the Oresteia of Aeschylus set in nineteenth century America. Sartre’s ‘The Flies’ is a part of the same story set in classical time, but with a reference to Paris under German occupation.

5. Three Unities

Aristotle had drawn up some rules for the drama which have come to be called as ‘classical unities’. These rules for unity are called as ‘three unities’.

(i) Unity of time: The events of a drama should happen within a time limit of twenty-four hours and should not extend this limit.

(ii) Unity of place: The events should happen at one place, and action should not move from place to place.

(iii) Unity of action: There should be only one story. It should not be complicated by addition of any secondary story like sub-plot or side plot.

6. Problem Play

Problem play is recent device in drama. It was popularized by the great Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. In problem play the situation of the protagonist is so rendered as to indicate that it represents a contemporary sociological problem. That is the reason that this literary device is also called as social tragedy.

When we come to modern times, we find a type of tragedy in which there is no dignified here. There is only a weak, erring individual who struggles against the forces of society and is finally crushed down by them. (Forms of Play Notes Study Material)

There is no villain and yet there is tremendous suffering and a sense of human wastage which move our hearts. This is the type of tragedy written by Galsworthy.

In Justice, the pitiful, weak-willed clerk who forges a cheque is the principal character. This is the tragedy of a weak young man who is caught in the toils of a social system. The individuality of the hero is not emphasized. Anyone of us in similar circumstances would have behaved in the same way.

7. Shakespearean Sonnet

“Sonetto” in Italian language means a little sound or strain. As its name suggests, it was originally a song. Formerly it was meant to be a short poem of a lyrical nature to be sung to the accompaniment of a musical instrument. It has developed a definite structure. It is a poem of fourteen deca-syllabic lines that are iambic pentameters. The number of lines, the measures and the rhyme scheme, even the development of thought must conform at a fixed pattern. The sonnet is according to Watts Dunton, “A brief poetic form of fourteen rhymed verses arranged according to prescription.” It is a highly wrought form of poetry.

According to their structure sonnets are of two kinds: (i) Petrarchan or the Italian and (ii) Shakespearean or the English. Petrarch divided the sonnet into two parts: the Octave and the Sestet. The first eight lines formed the octave with the rhyme scheme ‘abba abba’. In the octave the poet asks a question, poses a problem, states a difficulty or conveys the mood. The last six lines form the sestet with which the poem concludes. The rhyme scheme of the sestet differs according to the mood of the poet. Generally, it is ‘cde cde’ or ‘cd cd cd’. The sestet answers the question, resolves the problem and concludes the mood.

Shakespearean Sonnet

Sonnet writing began in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Wyatt, Surrey, Sydney and Spenser were the earliest composers of the sonnet. Then came Shakespeare. He gave new beauty and flexibility to the sonnet. According to Wordsworth, “With this key, Shakespeare unlocked his heart.” He altered the rhyme scheme of the sonnet and divided it into three quatrains and a couplet. The rhyme scheme is ‘abab, cdcd, efef, gg’. This new form is known as the Shakespearean sonnet.

Poets generally wrote ‘sonnet sequences’ all of which had the theme of ‘Love’. Some poets, especially Milton, changed this practice of writing in sequences. We have, thus, many sonnets which are independent units, perfect in themselves. Wordsworth took further liberties with the Italian sonnet and broke up the rhyme scheme of the octave to be ‘abba acca’ in place of ‘abba abba’.

It seems the sonnet lends itself to great flexibility resulting in several variations.


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