Different Types of Drama PDF

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Types of Drama PDF

The objective of this unit is to discuss in detail the kinds of drama that we see being performed or read. Plays are categorized and labeled as tragedy, comedy, history, problem plays, and poetic drama. epic drama, the theatre of the absurd, etc.

The present unit explains how these distinctions are made; what reasons behind the specific labels are; and what time period (socially and politically) has been responsible for their growth.

The unit has a sub-division on Indian Classical Sanskrit Theatre which discusses the Indian aesthetic theory. One would do well not to ignore Sanskrit drama as it has been a landmark development in the growth of theatre at the world level.

This also initiated the growth of drama as part of a new literature which is inclusive of Spanish, German, French, and Indian dramatic writing,


Different types of Drama have existed down the ages from Greek classical theatre to the present times.

We have already read about the origin and growth of drama in our first unit. Let us answer a few questions about the drama which helps us understand the different kinds of drama entertaining, realistic, romantic, relations-based, theme


Aristotle first defined tragedy in his poems around 330 BC. He defined tragedy as “the imitation of an action that is serious and also as having magnitude, complete in itself,” in the medium of poetic language and in the manner of dramatic rather than narrative presentation, involving “incidents arousing pity and fear wherewith to accomplish the catharsis of such emotion.”

Aristotle says that the tragic hero will evoke pity and fear if he is neither thoroughly good nor thoroughly bad but a mixture of both but is certainly “better than we are in the sense that he is of higher than ordinary moral worth.

Such a man is exhibited as suffering a change in fortune from happiness to misery because of his mistaken choice of action, to which he is led by his hamartia, the tragic flaw or the error of judgment, or moral weakness in character.

The plot evokes tragic pity and fear. In this way, tragedy relieves the spectators of harmful emotions.

The dramatist depicts incidents that arouse pity and fear for the protagonist, bringing the plot to a logical and foreseeable conclusion.

This explains how an audience experiences satisfaction even from an unhappy ending.

In Shakespeare’s King Lear, Lear’s madness and his death arouse pity and fear in the audience, thus catharsis in spectators gives satisfaction despite it being a tragic play.

“In his tragedies, Shakespeare is indeed grappling with the whole world on a scale approximated only by the profound tragedians of Greece.

Tragedy in his work goes beyond individual failure, Nations crumble, and ambition, lust, and ingratitude sear the earth.

Sensitive souls shudder. They question the chimeras of man and fate, receiving dusty answers.

Love for them turns to mockery, common decency becomes a jest, they see blood flowing like a torrent; conscience gnaws at the marrow of their being; self-disgust and general disgust with mankind ravage many of them”.

Thus Hamlet and Lear are partially authors of their own suffering because of their conduct.

Hamlet’s sharp questioning of man and society emanates from the dramatic shock of discovering the murder of his father and his mother’s infidelity, but later his procrastination is an aberration from the sound policy.

A man struggles against a man. Thus it is the drama of individual will. Aristotle’s definition excludes many plays which are commonly thought of as tragedies.

Not all tragic heroes suffer because of a tragic error. Contemporary critics suggest a cluster of overlapping perspectives that collectively describe the tragic vision.

First, tragedy begins by asking the ultimate question: why are we here? Does life have meaning or purpose?

Can life have meaning in the face of so much suffering and evil in the world? Does death negate the significance of the protagonist’s life and the goals she was seeking? Tragedy offers no singular solution: people suffer because of their own actions.

At times the tragic hero appears to suffer simply because he/she lives in a cruel and unjust universe.

Though the causes of suffering are diverse, the purpose of suffering appears almost universally acknowledged: only through suffering does a person attain wisdom.

According to Francis Fergusson, the plays follow a tragic pattern of purpose, passion, and perception.

Second, tragedy pushes the individual to the outer limits of existence where one must live or die by one’s convictions. Facing the end of life, a person quickly recognizes life’s ultimate values.

Tragedy depicts men and women who are dissatisfied with the hand destiny has dealt with them, and challenge the rules of the game.

Tragedy does not depict man as a helpless puppet dancing to the strings of destiny, The tragic vision does not assure man’s ultimate downfall. Instead, it explores ways in which free will exert itself in the world.

The determination to act rather than submit often leads to disastrous results but at the same time, it tests the basic substance of humanity.

This tremendous strength of will to scale the heights and accomplish the impossible sets the hero apart from ordinary humanity but inspires us with a vision of human potential.

Thus tragedy far from being a pessimistic view of life is ultimately optimistic about the value of human achievement and the unconquerable strength of the human spirit.

To put into Eric Bentley’s words. “Tragedy cannot entail extreme pessimism, for that would be to lose faith in Man.”

The tragic vision encompasses the paradox of human freedom, admitting the possibility of great goodness and great evil.

Language English
No. of Pages11
PDF Size0.7 MB

Drama PDF For BA Student

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