Characteristics of Modern Drama

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The essence of this paper is to list and discuss characteristics of modern period drama. These characteristics are realism, naturalism and interaction between characters and the readers. They will be discussed along with Henrik Ibsen’s ‘Ghosts’ and Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Sales man’. Realism and naturalism are considered to be the cornerstones of modern drama as we know it today. They are the major influencers of the modern drama. Henrik Ibsen is considered to be the founding father of these two movements. It is crucial to note that characters in these two movements represent themselves as normal human beings and this aid to the readers to interact and analyse the play to make their own judgements which is a feature of modern drama. Realism in literature was first developed in France in the mid-nineteenth century. Realist writers sought to narrate their plays from an objective, unbiased perspective that simply and clearly represented the factual elements of the play. They became masters at psychological characterization, detailed descriptions of everyday life in realistic settings, and dialogue that captures the idioms of natural human speech. The realists endeavoured to accurately represent contemporary culture and people from all walks of life. Ghosts capture the issues that concern us in everyday life. They are real issues that concern us in the contemporary world. The fact that they are real and not shielded they led to the play being rejected when it was first produced in1891.What Ibsen was saying was the truth which was took place in the society before 19th Century and was concealed. By revealing issues such as sex, sexual transmitted infections, incest, and infidelity he hurt the society since such issues were not openly discussed prior the 19th Century. The reason why ‘Ghosts’ was rejected is that it dramatise those secret issues. “Daily Telegraph leader is perhaps the most damning, describing the play as: ‘an open drain; a loathsome sore unbandaged; a dirt act done publicly; a lazar house with all its doors and windows open’.” Ibsen, (2002: xxvi). In reality matters such as promiscuity does happen. Captain Alving represents this issue and in turn it is concealed at first because the only time Mrs Alving mentions it is in Act 2 after Osvald made sexual advances to Regina at the end of Act 1. Pastor Manders not to believe it but she tells her that she confirmed it from Johanna, who is Regina’s mother. And also sexual transmitted does affect children. So it was of no help to conceal reality because at the end of everything it will bounce back with its consequences having to be addressed. At the end Mrs Alving had no choice but to tell the truth though it is late at Osvald’s side because his syphilitic condition its already in the advanced stage for being cured. In ‘Death of a Sales man’ we see Willy Loman concealing the reality that he is no longer doing well in travelling sales. He claims that he is doing exceptionally well though he is in the habit of borrowing money from Charlie pretending it to be his weekly wages. He also claims to be well liked yet he is fired shamelessly in his job. He taints Biff and Happy by saying that being well liked is the key to success yet he is not successful himself. Now we can see how realism present itself in these two plays. On the other hand naturalism is a movement in theatre, film, and literature that seeks to replicate a believable everyday reality, as opposed to such movements as Romanticism or Surrealism, in which subjects may receive highly symbolic, idealistic, or even supernatural treatment. Naturalistic writers were influenced by the evolution theory of Charles Darwin. They believed that one's heredity and social environment decide one's character. Whereas realism seeks only to describe subjects as they really are, naturalism also attempts to determine "scientifically" the underlying forces (i.e. the environment or heredity) influencing these subjects' actions....
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