Definition of a play

Etymologically, ‘play’ is derived from the Greek word ‘paizo’ which means “to act” or “to perform.”

A play is a literary form of writing for theatre, which narrates a story with elements of conflicts, tensions, and actions through dialogues of characters. For dramatic significance, it is divided into acts and scenes. The writers present their feelings, emotions, and ideas through their characters and make them speak.

The playwright uses various dramatic elements to create more profound meanings and enhance understanding of the audience. Also, they insert text, apart from the actual dialogues of the characters, to unfold the description of characters on stage, their natural action, and psychological intentions. In this way, the writers make their texts emotive, lifelike and thought-provoking.

A play has certain elements such as,

Plot: It refers to the order of the events that occur in the play.

Characters: The characters form a crucial part of the story and are interwoven with the plot of the play.

Dialogue: It refers to the conversation or interactions between the characters in the play.

Setting: It refers to the time and place where a story is set. It is one of the important parts of the play.

Conflict: It refers to the challenge main characters need to solve to achieve their goals.

Resolution: It is the unfolding or the solution to a complex issue in a story.

A play functions as a tool to give reveal to one’s thoughts through performance in front of the live audience. Writers skillfully feature certain situations to make the audience laugh at funny incidents as well as feel pity and fear for unfortunate circumstances or incidents. It enables the audience to understand and feel a lot out of less description. Also, it is a convenient way to present different characters and their inner thoughts in dramas. Moreover, it enables the writers to dramatize the story in a way that events and characters are easily brought to life through a theatrical performance.

Definition of Tragedy
Tragedy is a literary device signifying a story or drama that presents an admirable or courageous character that confronts powerful forces inside and/or outside of themselves. These characters do so with a dignity that reveals the nature of human spirit in the face of failure, defeat, and even death. In a tragedy, a protagonist is undone or brought to ruin by a critical character flaw or by the cruelty of fate. Literary tragedies recount a tragic hero’s downfall in that the protagonist typically begins in “high” position or esteem and ends “low,” in despair, ruin, or destruction.

Comedy is a literary genre and a type of dramatic work that is amusing and satirical in its tone, mostly having a cheerful ending. The motif of this dramatic work is triumph over unpleasant circumstance by creating comic effects, resulting in a happy or successful conclusion.

Thus, the purpose of comedy is to amuse the audience. Comedy has multiple sub-genres depending upon the source of the humor, context in which an author delivers dialogues, and delivery methods, which include farce, satire, and burlesque. Tragedy is opposite to comedy, as tragedy deals with sorrowful and tragic events in a story.

Types of Comedy
There are five types of comedy in literature:

Romantic Comedy
Romantic comedy involves a theme of love leading to a happy conclusion. We find romantic comedy in Shakespearean plays and some Elizabethan contemporaries. These plays are concerned with idealized love affairs. It is a fact that true love never runs smoothly; however, love overcomes difficulties and ends in a happy union.

Comedy of Humors
Ben Johnson is the first dramatist who conceived and popularized this dramatic genre during the late sixteenth century. The term humor derives from the Latin word Humor, which means “liquid.” It comes from a theory that the human body has four liquids, or humors, which include phelgm, blood, yellow bile, and black bile. It explains that, when human beings have a balance of these humors in their bodies, they remain healthy.

Comedy of Manners
This form of dramatic genre deals with intrigues and relations of ladies and gentlemen living in a sophisticated society. This form relies upon high comedy, derived from sparkle and wit of dialogues, violations of social traditions, and good manners, by nonsense characters like jealous husbands, wives, and foppish dandies. We find its use in Restoration dramatists, particularly in the works of Wycherley and Congreve.

Sentimental Comedy
Sentimental drama contains both comedy and sentimental tragedy. It appears in literary circles due to reaction of the middle class against obscenity and indecency of Restoration Comedy of Manners. This form, which incorporates scenes with extreme emotions evoking excessive pity, gained popularity among the middle class audiences in the eighteenth century.

This dramatic genre contains both tragic and comedic elements. It blends both elements to lighten the overall mood of the play. Often, tragicomedy is a serious play that ends happily.


Definition of Melodrama
Melodrama is a subgenre of drama, which is an exaggerated form of this genre. Melodramas deal with sensational and romantic topics that appeal to the emotions of the common audience. Originally, it made use of melody and music, while modern melodramas may not contain any music at all. In fact, a melodrama gives preference to a detailed characterization where characters are simply drawn, one-dimensional, or stereotyped. Typically, melodrama uses stock characters including a heroes, heroines, and villains.