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ENG 211 MIDTERM MATERIAL Melodrama in 3 layers 1 The typical characteristics we notice about the genre high on entertainment over 2 exaggeration spectacle violence catastrophe disaster recovery Involves hero heroine and villain Hero heroine gain sympathy and identification villain s qualities cause revulsion 3 Struggle between virtue and evil as irreconcilable absolute opposites Basis for everything else good and evil MUST always be in necessary conflict In other words the performance has more to do with conveying this idea than anything else This point will always be driven home to the audience HERO HEROINE damsel in distress VILLAIN wealthy SIDEKICK funny always assists the hero HOW ELSE CAN WE FLIP IT ON ITS HEAD General consensus before Mason was that melodrama is a means of revealing the nature of virtue 17 but mason says hold on people everyone knows what virtue good is the world as it should be stable safe at rest 18 evil is what we need to reveal Evil is the problem that sends good out of whack We must always return to good but good will always be threatened by evil Evil threatens the idea that virtue might not b inherent but must be earned Melodrama must tell audiences that though their fears are valid their optimism is justified Thus melodrama is all about playing on people s fears We fear the heroine might lose so the author puts her in danger until just before the point of breaking and then rescues her These fears must never come true The hero must always win If he doesn t if society chances then I blurs the comfortable polarized world NOTES 2 The well made play The well made play is a style of writing that has formed the basic format for most modern day movies TV shows and plays If anyone has ever seen the classic mountain plot in fiction exposition rising action climax falling action and denouement s he has been subject to the basic format of a well made play Values plot over character development The top 7 characteristics often well made play by Eugene Scribe 1 The plot revolves around a major secret or series of secrets known to the audience though other characters may not know it The revealing of this secret to the audience combined with characters lack of knowledge leads to dramatic irony 2 The secret usually comes in the form of a letter This letter combined with other theatrical devices such as compromising situations with characters in which there are close calls of the secret being revealed with entrances and exits usually occur 3 When the secret is revealed it unmasks a fraudulent character not always the character that holds the secret 4 The hero is restored to her his glory through good fortune 5 The hero has an adversary The conflict between the hero protagonist and villain antagonist create a series of up and downs for the hero protagonist 6 there is always some sort of misunderstanding that occurs that is oblivious to the characters but known to the audience another moment of dramatic irony 7 The reveal of the secret usually causes the hero to suffer the worst moment in the play followed by the greatest success NOTES 3 The early 1820s early 20th century depending where theatre idealist in nature MAIN QUALITIES OF IDEALISM 1 Art for beauty s sake nothing grotesque too personal private too realist on stage 2 Events of play create solidarity doesn t show problems horrors of real life or anything wrong with humanity or nation 3 Creates a sense of self what it means to be me what it means to be American what it means fit in the clockwork of the puzzle 4 Very positive idealist in nature THE THEATRE OF REALISM Started in the mid 1800s still around today realistic in nature MAIN QUALITIES OF REALISM 1 2 Art for truth s sake everything shown as true to real life Realistic sets costumes plot characters and acting A theatre of pragmatism Endings to plays are not always happy or nicely tied together Protagonist vs antagonist instead of hero and villain 3 4 5 Naturalism extreme realism no surprises twists or suspense Henrik Ibsen and A DOLL S HOUSE Ibsen originally an idealist writer The Pretenders 29 years into playwriting loathes idealism 1870s Wanted to develop more life like characters with flaws Avoided putting characters on a pedestal Turned the drama to personal spaces living room of the Helmer s Brought into realism Scribe s WM play Interested in sociological writing modeled Nora after Laura Kieler many plays stolen from real life stories NOTES 4 Algernon more than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn t read Pg 438 Algernon the truth is rarely pure and never simple Pg 439 Modern life would be very tedious if it were either and modern literature a complete impossibility Algernon if one plays good music people don t listen and if one plays bad music people don t talk Pg 441 LB a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing Which do you know Pg 442 J E I know nothing LB LB I am pleased to hear it NOTES 5 Art for art s sake Oscar Wilde believed that art should critique art Aesthetic conventions should be upheld sounds images thoughts but it should never be used to present a serious theoretical view of the world or pursue religious political biographical social goals this idealism minus the idealized view of the world everyone was subject to ridicule do you think Oscar Wilde has anything more than aesthetic motives in The Importance of Being Earnest Why or why not The Comedy of Manners originates during the restoration period reflects the life ideals and manners of upper class society through their staunch traditions and philosophy Tries to maintain the social structure while also exposing what lies behind the proper manners of aristocracy makes the real artificial and artificial real contained sexual innuendos and sexualized dialogue and casual behavior almost always concerning marriage humor always satirical COMMON IDEAS CIRCULATED IN COM PLAYS marriage is boring sex is tempting love thrives on variety anything constant or predictable extinguishes love sexual feelings are taboo characters clash in love entanglements like love triangles or mistaken identifies Comedy of Errors for example country life is boring clergymen are treated indifferently Algernon Lane s views on marriage seem somewhat lax Really if the lower orders don t set us a good example what on earth is the use of them They seem as a class to have absolutely no sense of moral responsibility 437 Lady Bracknell I m sure the program will be delightful after

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