2 The Western History of Drama Analysis Note: You can take notes if you want, it is not required.I warn you I used to lecture college kids, so I go fast.Let me know if I need to slow down.
3 Despite centuries of thinking, all modern Western literary analysis comes down to this guy… Poetry is the province either of one who is naturally clever, or of one who is insane.ARISTOTLE
4 In 335 BCE, he wrote a book of dramatic theory called Poetics. In it he describes what good poetry, in Greek it means “making”, looks like. In Ancient Greece, the term poetry applied to poetry and drama (there were no novels). Drama consisted of the tragedy, the comedy, and the Satyr play.
5 Tragedy was the favorite genre of ancient Greece. During festivals, three tragedies would be performed and one Satyr play. Satyr plays were silly. They were filled with mock drunkenness, sex, pranks, and silent gags.
6 Aristotle’s Theories in The Poetics Have been obeyed, from Shakespeare to Hollywood.It is important to remember Aristotle observed, not wrote, the rules of Drama.
7 Aristotle believed that… it is man’s innate nature to imitate.we imitate in art to learn about things and concepts.Poetry imitates through words, and drama through action!
8 The Six Elements of Theater Are found in The Poetics.First applied only to tragedy (and by “tragedy”, Aristotle means not “comedy”), but now expanded to all dramatic analysis.Most dramas you see follow these rules.In order of importance, at least according to Aristotle
9 Element 1. Action/PlotThe most important, according to Aristotle, element.The events of the playThe story as opposed to themeThe “what happens”In a plot there is a pattern of movement: initial entanglement, rising action, climax, ant the falling action to dénouement.
10 Element 2. Character The second most important aspect. The people in the play.Aristotle believed that each should have its own distinct personality, age, appearance, beliefs, background, and language.
11 Element 3: Thought/Theme/Ideas What the play is supposed to mean. “The abstract issues and feelings that grow out of the dramatic action.”
12 Element 4: LanguageThe word choices made by the author, and the enunciation of the actors.Language and dialog move the plot along, provide exposition, and define the characters.
13 Element 5: MusicAncient plays all had music as an integral part. (remember choruses?)Is no longer in all plays, but it could…Set tempoSet moodCreate effectsCreates patternsDrive plot forwardDiehard Aristotelian critics have expanded the term to include all sound in a production (even the changes in an actors voice)!
14 Element 6: Spectacle Comprises the visual elements of a play. Includes: set design, costumes, properties (the things actors hold… “props”), special effects, and lighting.Aristotle considers this the least important element of theater, but it is still important enough to merit being an “element”.
15 It is also the most interchangeable. Western theater generally does not place much semantic significance on costumes. Brünnhilde can change from this to this without much loss of meaning.
17 courage, loyalty, honesty Red Face-courage, loyalty, honestyUnlike, for example, Chinese Opera where the costumes and makeup symbolize different things.White Face-Wickedness,untrustworthyNote: Huangmei opera places very little emphasis on costume…
18 Stock Characters, of course, still rely on spectacle for identification purposes. Stock characters are characters based on a common literary or social stereotype. They are clichés. We know them, and we identify them through their props, costumes, and makeup.Harlequin and Pierrot
19 The “French Maid” is an interesting example… they commonly functioned as “soubrettes” in turn of the century plays. Soubrettes are stock characters that are vain, girlish, mischievous, gossipy, street wise, flirty, and often sexually aggressive.Their prevalence in theater may have diminished, but the infamous “French Maid” is still with us.
20 Some of what Aristotle wrote is not of relevance today… Like most of his scientific theories (aether?)The types of souls (vegetative? Animal?)Revolution of planetsIdeas on women: basically inferior, colder (in temperature therefore less perfect), need to be controlled by husbands in home, don’t educate them (but you can train them in gymnastics!)A woman is an infertile male!
21 Despite all that …Aristotle’s treatise on the elements of Drama/Theater allow us insight on the time-honored traditions of dramatic form and elements. It also tells us what to focus on in our analysis. Plot. Character. Theme.I will warn you, Ibsen will challenge many of Aristotle’s ideas. Setting, movement, and props also have great significance. Spectacle is very important!
22 DRAMA TERMSDRAMATIS PERSONAE- the characters in the play CATASTROPHE- the final resolution in a plot which unravels the plot and closes the piece. Made up of the: 1. Denouement (the explanations/un-ravelling) and the 2. achievement (the end result)ClimaxRising ActionFalling ActionAchievementDenouementEXPOSTION
23 More TermsCATHARSIS- the “emotional cleansing”. An extreme change in emotion, the release of pent-up energy (it can happen to the characters in the play or the audience) FOIL- a secondary character that contrasts with the main character setting off his personality. Ex: Don Quixote and Sancho Panza Sometimes Subplots can serve as foils for the main plot. FOURTH WALL- the imaginary “wall” at the front of the stage… the imaginary boundary between fiction and reality. GESTURE- the physical movements of characters during a play REVERSAL- the point at which the action of the plot turns in an unexpected direction for the protagonist. SETTING- the time and place of literary work STAGE DIRECTION- comments that provide the reader with information about the dialogue, setting and actions of a play. (Ibsen provides a lot!)
24 Ok, Today’s ActivityWe are going to begin reading the book, we will end when Helmer leaves the room… Popcorn readings style.
25 Questions to Whole Class What “elements of the theater” have you seen so far?
26 In Pairs,Analyze and make inferences about the character of Nora and Torvald. List character traits with textual evidence. How does the dialogue between the two add to an understanding of their characters? How does spectacle enhance their characters? Be prepared to share your lists with the class.