Convention, Innovation And Variation In Melodrama

2614 words - 10 pages

Universität Hannover Englisches Seminar Early 19th Century Melodrama Dr. H. Ilsemann SS 1998 Convention, Innovation and Variation in Melodrama Harald Mink HL Engl./Erdk. Matr.nr. 1627314 9. Semester Content 1. Introduction 2 2. The Conventions of Melodrama 2 3. The Psychological Function of Melodramatic Plays 4 4. Art and Melodrama 5 4.1 General Considerations on the Artistic Value of a Work of Art 5 4.2 The Artistic Value and the Quality of Melodramas 5 4.3 Innovation in the Basic Structure of Melodramas 6 5. Conclusion 7 6. Bibliography 9 1. Introduction The melodramatic genre is considerably based on certain conventions, by which the melodramatic plays obtain a basic structure which is rather uncommonly rigid in literature. To give a basic idea of these conventions, an outline of this basic structure shall be presented in chapter two.These conventions clearly fulfilled the expectations on the part of the audience. Thus, the interrelation between melodramatic plays and the audience shall be analysed in chapter three giving particular attention to the psychological function of melodramas.Considering the fact that melodramatic plays were foremost produced to meet the expectations of the audience, it seems necessary to analyse the question whether there is still any artistic value inherent in melodramas and further, by which standards the quality of a play might be judged upon. This analysis shall be done in chapter four.2. The Conventions of Melodrama Like other genres, the melodramatic genre is based on some general or conventional features which do prevail in the majority of all melodramas. These conventional features can be separated into three different groups: the characters, the plot and the choreography.As for the characters, the following constellation is typical: the protagonist is a suffering hero, often a poor man, but nevertheless very virtuous, sincere and honest the antagonist is a villain who triggers off the action by an unjustified and evil act against the protagonist a suffering heroine, innocent and awaiting the day of justice an old man a benevolent comic, responsible for comic relief .These characters do not exemplify real people since they lack any balanced character traits. They are rather stereotypical with a clear-cut separation of good and evil characters. The way in which these characters are portrayed clearly shows parallels to 20th century film genres such as Western films and Science Fiction films.The plot does also show some conventional features: the events of the melodrama are very exciting, the clear-cut separation between the goodies and...

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