Introduction to Literature

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Week 4 - Discussion 1


Influence of Tragedy in Contemporary Drama [WLOs: 1, 2, 3] [CLOs: 1, 2, 3, 4]
Prepare Icon

Prepare: Prior to beginning your initial post, read Chapters 10 and 11 in your course textbook, paying special attention to information on drama’s Greek history, the Shakespearean dramatic tradition, and the components of tragedy in both Greek and Shakespearean drama.

Reflect Icon

Reflect: In addition to staged productions, some of drama’s contemporary forms include television and film. Think of a film or television episode you know well and that you could analyze using the terms you learned in the textbook. Remember that the film or episode may not necessarily come from our current genre of “drama,” as the literary term drama refers to all contemporary forms of scripted theatrical production. Do NOT choose a work that would be called a ‘comedy,’ as you will be exploring comedy in your Comedy and Conflict discussion this week. It might help you to think of a plot that has a protagonist similar to those you have read about in your textbook

Write IconWrite:

Part 1—Answer the following questions and directives about the film or episode you chose:

Part 2—Consider how applying your knowledge of literary tradition and elements caused you to look at this contemporary dramatic work in a new way. Respond to the following questions:

  • After completing Part 1 of this discussion, did you notice anything new about the dramatic work you selected? If so, what did you notice?
  • Did your experience completing Part 1 deepen your appreciation of the work’s complexity? If so, how? If not, why not?
  • Though drama has changed over time, many of its fundamental elements remain the same. What might this illustrate about the human condition?

Your writing for Parts One and Two should be a combined total of at least 200 words.

Week 4 - Discussion 2


Comedy and Conflict [WLOs: 1, 2, 3, 4] [CLOs: 1, 2, 3]
Prepare Icon

Prepare: Prior to beginning work on this discussion, read Sharon E. Cooper’s Mistaken Identity: A Ten Minute Play from Chapter 12 of Journey Into Literature.

Reflect Icon

Reflect: In the Influence of Tragedy in Contemporary Drama discussion this week, you examined how a contemporary dramatic work might simultaneously adhere to and depart from the dramatic tradition, specifically Greek and Shakespearean tragedy. In this discussion activity, you will focus on comedy. Reflect on Mistaken Identity: A Ten Minute Play. This is a modern comedy that centers on the quest for love and understanding. Remind yourself the elements of drama and conflict you explored in the Influence of Tragedy in Contemporary Drama discussion.

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Write: The initial post must be 200 to 300 words in length and posted by Day 3. In your initial post:

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 Section Part IV: Drama Chapter 10: Drama: An Introduction 10.1 What Is Drama? 10.2 Reading Dramatic Works 10.3 Drama’s Greek Roots 10.4 A Greek Tragedy for Analysis Chapter 11: Shakespearean Drama 11.1 Who Was William Shakespeare? 11.2 Greek Versus Shakespearean Drama 11.3 The Globe Theatre 11.4 Reading Shakespeare: Poetry and Prose 11.5 A Shakespearean Tragedy for Analysis Chapter 12: Modern Drama 12.1 Drama in the Contemporary World 12.2 Modern Dramas 12.3 Modern Comedies © 2019 Bridgepoint Education, Inc. All rights reserved. Not for resale or redistribution. © 2019 Bridgepoint Education, Inc. All rights reserved. Not for resale or redistribution. 10 Drama: An Introduction VvoeVale/iStock/Thinkstock “The word theatre comes from the Greeks. It means the seeing place. It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation.” —Stella Adler, acclaimed actress and acting teacher Learning Outcomes After reading this chapter, you should be able to ∎ Discuss drama as a literary genre, including the integral role performance plays in the genre. ∎ Explain how analysis of drama differs from and is similar to analysis of short stories and poetry. ∎ Describe the history and performance of Greek drama and the elements of Greek tragedy. ∎ Analyze characters, plot, setting, theme, and literary devices in Antigone. © 2019 Bridgepoint Education, Inc. All rights reserved. Not for resale or redistribution. What Is Drama? Section 10.1 This chapter and the following two will introduce you to the literary genre known as drama. A drama, or play, is a work of literature written for the purpose of being performed. We will explore the three major periods of drama in the Western tradition: Greek, Shakespearean, and modern. In this chapter you will learn about drama’s 2,500-year-old Greek roots, with a focus on Greek tragedy, specifically Sophocles’s Antigone. Chapter 11 will fast-forward 2,000 years to England’s most influential playwright, William Shakespeare, and examine his evolving treatment of tragedy in his most blood-soaked work, Macbeth. Finally, Chapter 12 will bring you to the present with modern drama, developed in the past 125 years, and will include comedies and modern tragedies that focus on quotidian life, again centering on the Western tradition. You will see many literary terms in this and the following chapters that look familiar to you, such as drama and comedy. Take note that when used in this chapter, drama and comedy have different meanings from how they are used in everyday speech. For example, if we hear that there is a lot of “drama” surrounding something in the news, it means something different than drama as a literary term. Similarly, a comedy that you see on television or in the theater today is not the same type of comedy performed in ancient Greece. Be mindful of the uses of these terms as you read and write about drama. 10.1 What Is Drama? Drama differs from other literary genres like the short story and poetry in that it is intended to be performed. Therefore, it is an interactive, communal form of art. Understanding drama’s history and keeping in mind its intent to be acted out can help you offer a more enlightened and comprehensive analysis of a dramatic work. Though it’s valuable to participate in drama both on and off the stage, reading dramatic works allows you to slow down and deliberatively analyze the dialogue, action, and setting of a drama as you might with works from other genres. Performance: An Integral Part of Dramatic Art Theater remains popular today; consider the success of productions such as Hamilton and Come From Away. Films have even been transferred to the stage (e.g., The Lion King, Wicked, School of Rock). Why have theatrical performances survived in the age of movies and television? Why not just record performances so we can hit the “play” button whenever we want to see them again? The simple answer is that performance is a different art form than a recording. A recorded production is DEA/G. Dagli Orti/De Agostini/Getty Images The genre of drama can find its origins in Greece, and the theater of Delphi was one of the venues for those ancient plays. Originally built in the 4th century BCE, the theater offered a panoramic view of the Temple of Apollo. It had 35 rows of seating, accommodating approximately 5,000 spectators. © 2019 Bridgepoint Education, Inc. All rights reserved. Not for resale or redistribution. What Is Drama? Section 10.1 certainly not a lesser form of art. In fact, a movie or television show includes artistic possibilities that a live performance does not, such as camera close-ups, special effects, and spectacular settings. On the other hand, seeing a play performed in a theater—from the Greek word theatron, or “a place for seeing”—is a unique experience; no two live performances can ever be exactly the same. From the actors and stage crew to the people in the audience, all share in a performance that exists in a unique moment in time. Not one person in the theater, onstage or off, is exactly sure what will happen, since everything is performed live and depends on many people doing their jobs correctly and at the right moments. Theater, as with other forms of literature, art, and cultural expression, has also been a place for social protest and for raising awareness about important issues relating to politics, equity, and even specific events with historical impact. Often, an artistic work allows a discussion to be had about challenging topics, and theater has a rich tradition of social engagement. At a live performance, these issues can feel more immediate to the audience. When you go to the theater, you are experiencing collaborative art. A play is born in the mind of the playwright, who writes a story in the form of dialogue, aided by (usually) brief stage directions and information on the setting and time. For a written play to become a performance, many additional creative people become involved. The director has the overall vision for how the play should come to life on the stage. Actors; stage, lighting, and sound technicians; prop masters; stage managers; house managers; and many others provide essential services to the final production. The play is presented on a stage. The stage is to the director what a blank canvas is to a painter. However, unlike a two-dimensional canvas, the stage provides a three-dimensional space for the director. Think of the stage as an imaginary world or room with three sides—the fourth side being “removed” so the audience can observe the action. (The term fourth wall refers to this invisible barrier that the audience can see through but the actor cannot.) The director considers the visual impact of the set—which includes the scenery and props—and, primarily, of the actors on the stage. Part of this impact is created through the director’s decisions, expanded from the stage directions, about where the actors will move on the stage. Like a choreographer, the director carefully plans the actors’ movements, fully utilizing the space while making sure actors are facing the audience and not wandering around aimlessly, all while highlighting their dialogue, actions, and interactions. Finally, though we might typically think of drama taking place in a physical theater building on a specifically constructed stage, theater can be performed anywhere. Sometimes street performers will share their talents on a sidewalk or boardwalk; a theater company may put on a play outdoors in a park or other public space. Even in these scenarios, the performers will often mark a stage boundary. When you read a play, always keep in mind that it is meant to be performed onstage. Look at the stage directions (usually in parentheses), and take note of the setting. Picture the stage and imagine the various characters speaking the words, moving around the set, and interacting with one another. When analyzing the play, you can take into account not only the spoken dialogue but also any setting notes, stage directions, and other staging considerations. Showing that you are aware of the performative aspect of a drama also demonstrates your knowledge of the genre, adding credibility and depth to your analysis. © 2019 Bridgepoint Education, Inc. All rights reserved. Not for resale or redistribution. What Is Drama? Section 10.1 Dramatic Devices Though drama has its differences from other forms of literature, it still tells a story. Thus, the foundational concepts of storytelling apply to an understanding of drama. For example, literary elements such as foreshadowing and dramatic irony are often found in plays. When literary elements are used in drama, they can be referred to as dramatic devices. As in short stories, the action of nearly every plot in a drama goes through predictable stages: • • • • • Exposition brings the audience or reader “up to speed” with information about the setting, time, and characters. Rising action introduces a problem, or dramatic question, and a series of events that result in the next step. This dramatic question spurs the sequence of events that drive the plot forward. The climax, crisis, or turning point is the point at which the dramatic question is answered. Falling action deals with the consequences of the crisis. Finally, the resolution ties up any loose ends. Depending on the length of the play and the complexity of ideas and actions, most plays are divided into one, three, or five acts, or sections, with each act further divided into individual scenes. Typically, a scene begins when the action jumps to a new time or location or when a different set of characters must appear onstage. The stages in the plot are not required to occur in specific acts. For example, Shakespeare most often placed the moment of crisis in the third of five acts, while other playwrights might place that moment in Act 4 or even 5. Characters in drama, particularly when we can see them come to life onstage, are the most memorable elements of the genre. We can learn about characters in a drama in three ways: through the actions of the characters onstage, through dialogue between characters, and through a character’s private thoughts. Unlike in short stories, characters in plays must speak their private thoughts for the audience to hear. The forms these spoken thoughts take, along with other features that help convey the story through performance, are called theatrical conventions. The first form is the monologue, which is any long speech a single character delivers onstage. It includes the soliloquy, a character’s speech when onstage alone. The character, typically, is not speaking directly to the audience but rather is musing aloud to him- or herself while the audience overhears. Another convention, the aside, is typically a short comment delivered by a character (while in the presence of other characters) directly to the audience, often referred to as “breaking the fourth wall.” As in short stories, plays have different types of characters. The protagonist is the main character, who tries to overcome some obstacle; the antagonist is the person or force who creates difficulties for the protagonist; a foil is a character whose opposing traits highlight aspects of the protagonist; stock characters (e.g., the stereotypical nosy neighbor) and minor characters (e.g., a messenger) serve to move the plot forward. Not every character, of course, can be fully developed. Depending on the length and complexity of the play, playwrights focus first on developing the protagonist, then on the antagonist and secondary characters. © 2019 Bridgepoint Education, Inc. All rights reserved. Not for resale or redistribution. Reading Dramatic Works Section 10.2 Setting, as in short stories, refers to the place and time of the action. Symbols in drama are usually easy to spot—they are right there on the stage, often highlighted several times throughout the production. Remember, too, that unlike in poetry and short stories, an audience sees these symbols onstage. Thus, it behooves a reader to pay attention to items and objects referenced in a drama, as they might have important symbolic value. As in poetry, a drama might use symbol and metaphor to convey depth of meaning in few words. 10.2 Reading Dramatic Works Although nearly all plays are written to be performed, there are advantages to reading plays. Reading drama allows us to slow down and more carefully examine its elements, including the same elements we found in short stories: theme, plot, characters, setting, and symbols, among others. Unlike short stories, most plays do not have a point of view. The tale is not told by a first- or third-person narrator but rather through the characters’ words and actions. Some plays are written in verse and thus have much in common with poetry. Keithwheat/iStock/Thinkstock Reading drama allows the reader to carefully examine its elements. Reading a drama aloud can be a wonderful way to approximate how it was intended to be experienced. In fact, very often, when actors begin working together on a play, they will sit and read through the script, each person reading his or her words aloud, with no action. As readers, we can do something similar when reading a play, either alone or with friends and classmates. Plays, like short stories or poems, can have one theme or several. Find the theme by identifying the main idea: What’s the topic, or issue, the playwright seeks to highlight? A well-written play will use the other elements—plot, character, setting, and symbols—to point consistently to the theme or themes. As you learn more about drama and read the selections in this and the following chapters, draw on what you have already learned about literature in prior chapters. You will be able to apply your knowledge of a story’s structure and literary elements to enhance your critical reading and analysis of the plays. You can use the RUN-QC method, and the specific guidelines below will also help you analyze drama. © 2019 Bridgepoint Education, Inc. All rights reserved. Not for resale or redistribution. Reading Dramatic Works Section 10.2 Guidelines for Reading a Play • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Read the stage directions carefully. They appear at the opening of each scene and throughout the play, usually set off by parentheses. Typically brief, stage directions give essential information and insight about the place, time, characters, and atmosphere of the play. You can visualize how the play would be staged, thus enriching your experience. Pay particular attention to early statements by the characters, which may provide background information (exposition). Imagine the set (everything on the stage, except the characters); hold on to this impression and allow the characters to move within the environment you are imagining. Listen to their words and tone. Keep in mind, however, that in modern plays there are often set changes—in other words, the setting might not always be the same throughout the play. Identify, as soon as possible, what the central issues or concerns are—what is the dramatic question? Think about the particular action or event that sparked the primary conflict. What was it? Based on this inciting event, what might you expect the theme to explore? How does the setting—both the time and place of the action—contribute to the theme? What symbols can you identify that contribute to the theme? Keep the title of the play in mind as you read. What is its significance? Notice how the characters relate and react to the central issues. What do they reveal about themselves through their words and actions? How does the playwright use literary devices (irony, figurative language) to highlight the theme and create the mood? Which incidents of dramatic action help sustain the mood? Which speeches highlight it? Mark instances of foreshadowing—hints by the playwright about impending events. Evaluate the crisis, or turning point. The turning point answers the dramatic question. Think about the falling action—what happens as a consequence of the turning point? Consider the resolution. By the end of the play, do the characters gain knowledge or insight? © 2019 Bridgepoint Education, Inc. All rights reserved. Not for resale or redistribution. Drama’s Greek Roots Section 10.3 10.3 Drama’s Greek Roots The first dramatic selection you will analyze in this book is from the Greek play Antigone. This is because all of Western drama has its roots in Greek theater, and ancient Greek plays are still performed frequently today. Shakespeare, the subject of Chapter 11 and arguably the most famous playwright in English, was influenced by Greek drama, as are modern playwrights. Thus, familiarity with this ancient art can be useful for any play you analyze. Before you read the play, you’ll learn more about the history of Greek drama, which can help you understand its structure. Because plays are written to be staged, this will include some information about how ancient plays were performed. The golden age, or classical period, of Greece lasted about 200 years, from roughly 500 to 300 BCE. During these years, Athens was the cultural and intellectual center of Greece. Democracy flourished; the Olympic Games celebrated competitive sport; sculptors created marble masterpieces; architects and builders raised great structures like the Parthenon; philosophers, including Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, shared new ideas in the Athenian markets; and playwrights like Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes presented new plays at an annual festival in honor of Dionysus. Performance in Greek Drama Every year in March, Greeks celebrated the end of winter at the festival of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and festivity (“partying,” in modern terms). Plays were performed in competition at the festival. Judges chose winners from each category and awarded prizes to the playwrights. Although Sophocles, whom we will study in this chapter, frequently won the dramatic competition, his most famous play, Oedipus Rex, was not picked as the winning play in its first presentation. Performances were held in huge outdoor theaters, some of which held up to 15,000 spectators. The Theater of Dionysus in Figure 10.1 shows the typical layout of a Greek theater. Audiences sat in the theatron, consisting of stone benches cut in the side of a steep hill, arranged in a tiered semicircle in front of the orchestra. The orchestra (“dancing place”) was a large, flat, circular area in front of the stage where the chorus performed. (Note the difference in meaning from the contemporary use of orchestra, a collection of musicians playing predominantly stringed instruments). The chorus entered and exited the orchestra through eisodos (passageways). Actors stood on a raised stage in front of the skene, a tent or building that served as a dressing room for the actors and provided a back wall that could be painted with scenery. (Sophocles was credited with the idea of painting the skene.) © 2019 Bridgepoint Education, Inc. All rights reserved. Not for resale or redistribution. Drama’s Greek Roots Section 10.3 Figure 10.1: Theater of Dionysus At the Theater of Dionysus, audiences sat in the theatron (“a place for seeing”), consisting of stone benches cut in the side of a steep hill. Heinz-Dieter Falkenstein/age fotostock/SuperStock © 2019 Bridgepoint Education, Inc. All rights reserved. Not for resale or redistribution. Drama’s Greek Roots Section 10.3 Performers were all male; thus, even female roles were performed by men. The chorus, which typically consisted of 12 to 15 males, played a critical role in explaining and interpreting the action. This chorus was not a group of singers as th ...
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Doctor_Ralph
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Running head: INFLUENCE OF TRAGEDY IN CONTEMPORARY DRAMA

Week 4 Discussion 1: Influence of Tragedy in Contemporary Drama
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INFLUENCE OF TRAGEDY IN CONTEMPORARY DRAMA
Influence of Tragedy in Contemporary Drama
The selected film for this discussion board is “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.” In
this film, the main cast members play a board game and take the roles of the game characters
that they choose. Led by Duane Johnson, the cast has to complete the game in order to escape
from the virtual world to the reality lest they are trapped into the virtual world forever.
The central type of conflict in this film is individual vs. nature. The cast finds itself in
an unfamiliar jungle and has to cope with the harsh environment and animals that end up
swallowing some of the members. The possession of multiple lives once a...

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