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So equipped. Stamm sets out to examine the mirror-technique of Seneca's tragedies and thence to a study of three English academic plays Gorboduc, Gismond of Salem, Tancred and Gismunda and on an early popular play Cambhes to see how native English tragedy adopts, modifies, or rejects the typical Senecan devices. The final two-thirds of the book is devoted to Kyd's Spanish Tragedy and the four major plays of Marlowe Tamburlaine, Doctor Faustus, The Jew of Malta, Edward II with a view to demonstrating how the two most important pre-Shakespearean dramatists increasingly abandon the stiff, "epic", or exaggerated conventions of Senecan mirror-rhetoric in favor of more flexible, more stageable, and more psychologically realistic speeches in which the oral and the physical naturally reinforce each other.

Such conclusions are not precisely startling, but it is reassuring to have them articulately documented and organized. Here and there one detects evidences of critical naivete. Because Seneca's hyperbolical descriptions of emotion often violate psychological credibility and therefore would be unactable in a modern theatre without absurdity. Stamm comes close to implying at times that a naturalistic relationship of speech to action is invariably the highest criterion of dramatic effectiveness. One wonders how she would justify the queen's account of Ophelia's drowning in Hamlet or Macbeth's portrait of the murdered Duncan, "His silver skin laced with his golden blood".

Indeed, Stamm tends to oversimplify the distinction between physical theatre and the theatre of the mind, both of which intermingle richly, but not necessarily logically, in the greatest Renaissance plays. Again Stamm oversimplifies in suggesting that Kyd employs the old-fashioned Senecan ghost to open The Spanish Tragedy, only to abandon "this supernatural motif' in favor of "a more urgent incitement to revenge" p. But in Kyd's play the ghost of Andrea continues to be present physically throughout the action, thus reminding the audience visually of the deterministic chain of causality in which the more immediate episodes are but ironic links.

Nor is Stamm's scholarschip always reliable or current. She misrepresents G. Hunter as admitting Senecan influence on Elizabethan plays "in the domain of moral precepts only" p.

Shakespearean Tragedy - Elements of Shakespearean Tragedy - characteristics of tragedy

In fact Hunter explicitly agrees that plays such as The Misfortunes of Arthur and Gismond of Salem imitate Seneca stylistically ; as for Elizabethan drama in general, Hunter's common sense principle is simply that "We should not discuss 'the influence of Seneca' This is seen most obviously in soliloquies and asides, where actors address the audiences directly, taking them into confidence, but also in the use of disguises that are painfully obvious to audiences but not to other characters. This created a sense that the audience were in on a private joke against the characters in the play, putting them simultaneously within and outside the world of the play.

The plays frequently drew on language that referenced the theatre, acknowledging the physical dimensions of the playhouse, the audience and the actors.

The 9 Elements of Shakespearean Tragedy at a Glance:

However, it has become a feature of Globe productions to have actors address the audience or even move among the spectators in the yard — not a practice from the early modern period, notably — incorporating them into the performance. The structure of the Globe makes it easy for the actors to connect with the audience, especially those in the pit. One thing that 16th-century theatre and modern theatre have in common is a love of special effects. Early modern plays also used cannons and fireworks — the smell of gunpowder would have been particularly potent for early modern audiences after the Gunpowder Plot of — as well as music and tricks of candlelight in indoor theatres to convey a sense of the supernatural.

Sadly, however, we know very little about how such effects might have been staged. Early modern audiences were very conscious of imagery and symbolism and saw the world in terms of a vertical hierarchy. But though we have the Globe as an authentic reconstruction, as well as evidence in the form of tracts on the theatre and accounts by audience members, there are some gaps in our knowledge that we may never be able to fill.

The Five Stages of Action in a Tragedy | Our Pastimes

View the discussion thread. In ancient Greece, comedies dealt almost exclusively with contemporary figures and problems. Low comedy is physical rather than intellectual comedy; high comedy is more sophisticated, emphasizing verbal wit more than physical action. Also, a signal from the stage manager to the cast, stage crew, props manager, or lighting technician that a predetermined action—an entrance, sound effect, change in the set or lighting—is required.

Drama is further divided into tragedy, comedy, farce, and melodrama, and these genres, in turn, can be subdivided. The students, sitting quietly with eyes closed, allow pictures to form in their minds. These images may be motivated by bits of narration, music, sounds, smells, etc.


  • Anatomy of a Shakespeare Play.
  • Shakespeare’s tragic art?
  • Main navigation?
  • LECTURES ON.

In a dramatic production, the director, and perhaps others, will decide how to interpret the play for the audience. There are several forms of irony. Verbal irony is when a writer or speaker says one thing and means something else often the opposite of what is said.

Ralph Fiennes turns Shakespeare’s tragedy into a timely, tightly-plotted action thriller.

When the audience perceives something that a character does not know, that is dramatic irony. Situational irony can be described as a discrepancy between expected results and the actual results. Kabuki: the popular theater of Japan which developed out of Noh theater in the 17th century.

In Kabuki theater, actors use exaggerated and stylized makeup, costumes, gestures, speech, and special effects to portray traditional character roles and story lines.


  • Definition and Characteristics of Shakespearean Tragedy.
  • The Sherrington-Kirkpatrick Model.
  • The Gnostic Faustus: The Secret Teachings behind the Classic Text?
  • Marriage & How To Avoid It?

Also, to mask a set is to use flats or drapes to block the sightlines of the audience so they cannot see behind the set. Medieval drama: Classical drama ended with the fall of Rome, but drama was reborn during the Medieval period AD , growing out of religious ceremony.