What is Realism? Realism is the movement toward representing reality as it actually is, in art. Realistic drama is an attempt to portray real life on stage, a movement away from the conventional melodramas and sentimental comedies of the 1700s. It is expressed in theatre through the use of symbolism, character development, stage setting and storyline and is exemplified in plays such as Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House and Anton Chekhov's The Three Sisters. The arrival of realism was indeed good for theatre as it promoted greater audience involvement and raised awareness of contemporary social and moral issues. It also provided and continues to provide a medium through which playwrights can express their views about societal values, attitudes and morals. A Doll's House, for example, is the tragedy of a Norwegian housewife who is compelled to challenge law, society and her husband's value system. It can be clearly recognized as a realistic problem drama, for it is a case where the individual is in opposition to a hostile society. Ibsen's sympathy with the feminine cause has been praised and criticized; as he requires the audience to judge the words and actions of the characters in order to reassess the values.
For another example we can look within the text of Brian Friel’s play Translations. In this play we can see most, if not all of the characteristics of Realism. Let us dissect the show through the characters and touch on Friel’s usage of symbolism, character development, stage setting and storyline to see his connections with realism.
Symbolism, “the term Symbolism means the systematic use of symbols or pictorial conventions to express an allegorical meaning. Symbolism is an important element of most religious arts and reading symbols plays a main role in psychoanalysis.” At the opening of the text, Manus one of the main players is teaching Sarah to speak. He is being very patient with her because he believes that it is very important to teach her to articulate, 'Come on, Sarah. This is our secret'. When we see how hard Sarah is finding it to speak English it makes us feel that she is the symbol for Ireland's backward positions on English, and English influence. Jimmy another character on the other hand, represents the educated civilized tradition of old Ireland. He is a scholar, however Sarah is the opposite. She is a contemporary Ireland, as she has no voice to speak out. She has no capacity for taking part in the modern world. Sarah just wants to become part of the society. The way Manus is pushing Sarah to speak, for example, 'Raise your head. Shout it out. Nobody's listening'. You feel that Manus does not want Sarah to be a nobody in the community, so he is helping her. This is also a direct cry to Irish culture to stand up and fight back.
Sarah does not know how to speak so she mimes what she wants to say and Manus translates for her. This makes you feel that they have a close relationship, as Manus understands whatever Sarah does. She...