Basic Literary Terms: Drama

Asides brief comments by an actor who addresses the audience but is assumed not to be heard by the other characters on the stage.
Dialogue the lines spoken by the characters
Drama literature written to be performed
Dramatic Irony a situation that depends on the audience's knowing something that a character has not realized, or on one character's knowing something other characters do not know
Harmartia Aristotle's term for the "tragic flaw" in characters that eventually causes their downfall in Greek tragedy.
Monologue extended speech by one character
Props short for "properties,"--the pictures, furnishings, historical nuances, and so on, that provide the stage's background
Soliloquy a speech in which a character, alone on the stage, addresses himself or herself; it is a dramatic means of letting the audience know the character's thoughts and feelings.
Stage Directions words in a dramatic script--generally italicized--that define an actor's (apart from his/her dialogue) actions, movements, attitudes and so forth throughout the play
Tragedy a type of drama--as opposed to comedy--that depicts the causally related events that lead to the downfall of the protagonist (in classic tragedy this person should be of unusual moral, intellectual, or social stature)
Unities rules (originating from Aristotle) that require a dramatic work to be unified in terms of its time, place, and action:
  • one day (twenty-four hours)
  • one major action
  • one setting

Poetry Terms

Narrative Terms

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