What are the Types of Drama in English Literature?

Drama, usually referred to as a performing art, is one of the main type that English literature is represented.

Drama, on the other hand, is a genre of written and visual media that is employed for narrative storytelling that is quite serious. On the other hand, a story with conversation and performance defines drama in literature. Drama is present everywhere, whether it is via radio plays, plays performed in public spaces, or literary works. Let’s take a quick look at the background, importance, and many forms of drama in literature in this post!

What is Drama?

Drama derives its etymology from the Greek word “draō,” which signifies “to act” or “to do.” Have you ever observed that the two marks stand for drama? These masks associated with play serve as an example of the traditional division between tragedy and humor.

Even now, drama is still a priceless form of audience participation and group creation that is presented in a theater. You may have had pleasure in one yourself. Still, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to suggest that this kind of work is gradually disappearing. Although we haven’t given the art enough attention, there is yet time. All people, regardless of age, should be raised to appreciate the value of theater.

Drama comes in a variety of genres, such as mime, opera, musical, improvisations, closet drama, and others. Certain forms have been incorporated into a corpus of theatrical literature. A closet play, for instance, is precisely what was designed for reading, not performance. Others, like mime, are very dramatic performances. It describes a theatrical presentation that uses nonverbal cues to convey emotions and actions in addition to movements.

To put it simply, drama in literature is the acting out of a story with conversation that is sometimes accompanied by dance and music and is done in accordance with a script. Written versions of this script are extensively read and appreciated.

History of Drama in English Literature

Ancient Greeks

As we may have guessed, the origins of Western play may be traced directly back to Ancient Greece. Three primary genres of theater were produced in the cultural metropolis of Athens: tragedy, comedy, and satyr play. Drama, or plays, have an enigmatic beginning, as is the case with many cultural traditions.

However, via contests held in honor of the god Dionysus, theater was institutionalized as a means of celebration in Athens in the fifth century BC. Only a few of dramatists’ old works have survived to this day.

Some of them are:

The tragedians

  • Aeschylus,
    • Sophocles,
    • Euripides

The comic writers

  • Aristophanes
    • Menander.

Ancient Romans

Greek play was introduced to the Romans after their conquest of numerous Ancient Greek areas in the third century BC. The art of theater was dispersed across Roman Empire. But very little of the Roman dramatista works have survived.

Medieval Period

• During the Middle Ages, churches made theater more widely accepted by supporting plays based on biblical stories.

• These plays needed two groups to sing in Latin, and by the eleventh century, they had become popular throughout all of Europe and even Russia.

• Because plays were crucial for spreading religious instruction and regulations during the Middle Ages, they were often religious in theme. Secular and morality plays were as well-liked, nevertheless.

Elizabethan Period

Drama’s most influential era in England was probably the 16th and 17th centuries. The majority of plays at this time were composed in iambic pentameter poetry. This kind of metric line is employed in verse play and poetry. It describes the meter or rhythm of a certain line. Among the notable playwrights of this era are Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, Christopher Marlowe, and William Shakespeare. The topics of these plays were mostly derived from Roman or Ancient Greek mythology.

The popularity of Restoration Comedies in the 17th and 18th centuries contributed to the revival of English play in literature. English Restoration Comedies were characterized by sexual explicitness, urbane, cosmopolitan wit, current topical literature, and complex, bustling narratives, drawing inspiration from their Greek, Roman, and other European equivalents.

William Congreve and John Vanbrugh’s “softer” Restoration comedies of the 1690s aimed to appeal to a wider range of social classes, including women, as well as a more socially diverse audience.

Modern and Post-Modern Period

The 19th and 20th centuries were defined by novel forms of theater under the direction of German Bertolt Brecht and Norwegian Henrik Ibsen. These plays were characterized by social critique, experimental themes, and realism and modernity. Among the notable playwrights of this era are Antonin Artaud, Arthur Miller, and George Bernard Shaw.

Dramatic Expression

The comprehension and context of the material that is being portrayed informs the language and expression of drama. Literary play comes in a variety of forms and expressions. It might mimic the movies or be theatrical and ceremonial. The writers of ancient Greek ceremonial theater are mentioned by Britannica. It is believed that their actors performed these lyrics in between speeches and songs in an incantatory method. The entire theater’s tone was elevated to one of holy worship as a result of the rhythmic word delivery.

In Indian theater, the highly stylized system of symbolic gestures of the actors’ heads, eyes, arms, and fingers become a harmonious whole with the accompaniment of a poem. Shakespeare’s tragic soliloquy gave the protagonist an opportunity to discuss his ideas out loud in poetic language when he was alone himself on stage with the audience.

What is Drama in English Literature?

Drama and literature have a close relationship—so close that they are nearly synonymous. The play Hamlet, for example, has literary and theatrical significance.

An audience can be exposed to drama in two ways:

  1. Visually drama
  2.  Aurally drama

Drama may therefore be generally classified into two categories:

  1. Action drama
  2. Literary drama.

Scenes and dialogues are specifically created to pique the reader’s interest.Dramatists do this by developing suspense around the plot while adhering to the narrative through scripted performance.

•Consider Hamlet as an example. We are left wondering if Prince Hamlet would ever kill the plays in order to exact retribution for the death of his father and rid himself of the annoying ghosts and floating dagger visions.

There are 7 types of drama in literature which are as under;

  • Comedy
  • Farce
  • Tragedy
  • Tragi-Comedy
  • Melodrama
  • Opera
  • Musical


The goal of the drama genre known as comedy is to make the audience laugh. But humor isn’t the only characteristic of a comedy. The essential ideas of a comedy are:

• It’s in a playful tone.

• Creative phrase twists or wordplay.

• Serious topics are handled in a playful way.

• Errors are entertaining.

• A joyful conclusion.

• Silly and unconventional characters.

• Typically ends in a marriage, particularly in romantic comedies.

Romantic comedies, sentimental comedies, and other subgenres of comedy are among them. Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” is among the most well-known comedic works. Through witty repartee and several foolish miscommunications, Beatrice and Benedick go from rivals to romantic partners. And it ends with a wedding, just like Shakespearean comedies do!

Shakespeare’s comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is another. One of his favorite themes, “love conquers all,” is humorously tackled in this romantic comedy. A series of amusing and unexpected incidents cause young couples to fall in and out of love repeatedly. They address the shortcomings of love as a mischievous sprite named Puck magically solves their equally hilarious real-world concerns. Shakespeare’s joyful ending promises that true loves will reunite with their old foes and eventually become allies..


Although farces and comedies are similar in that they are both essentially hilarious forms of theater in literature, there are several key distinctions between the two. The primary topics of farce are:

• Overly ironic humor • Silly jokes

• There is illogical plot.

• Unpredictable events

• Humor is often inappropriate and vulgar.

Samuel Beckett’s drama “Waiting for Godot” is a prime example. However, Vladimir and Estragon are the two main characters in the story. The guys wait for the mysterious Godot behind a tree. However, it does come to light that Godot always promises to return the next day, but this never materializes. Put otherwise, there’s no certainty about anything in this story.


Tragedies are therefore among the most prevalent and well-liked genres of drama. Tragedies, as you may undoubtedly imagine, are usually depressing. Tragedies, however, are more complex than that. The primary topics are:

• A fatal flaw in the main character; • Circumstances that quickly get out of hand and don’t end well

• Common subjects include poverty, hatred, and human suffering. These aren’t the same themes as a melodrama.

• Explains the downfall of a formerly admirable or heroic character.

• Reachs a horrific catharsis; • An unredeemable finale in which one or more people perish

Shakespeare provides a wealth of tragic tales to choose from. But few can match “Othello” for its wicked antagonist, sad hero’s death, and devastating resolution.


These are the most intricate of the literary play genres. They are not merely a combination of humor and tragedy. The primary themes are: • A somber storyline presented in an amusing, caustic, or sardonic way.

• A perplexing issue; • Large-hearted characters who behave in stereotypically hilarious ways; • Characters with tragic defects whose activities do not result in death

• There’s no happy or humorous resolution.

The main concerns of classic plays were the genres of melodramatic, tragedy, or clear-cut comedy. There are enough humorous elements in Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” to prevent it from being categorized as a tragedy, but Blanche DuBois is undeniably a severely damaged character. This is the pinnacle of contemporary tragicomedy.


Melodramas are a type of theatrical drama that is exaggerated and in which traditional one-dimensional characters, such as heroes, heroines, and villains, face dramatic, emotional, and often fatal circumstances. The following are melodramatic themes:

• Heroines, heroines, villains, mentors, and so on are examples of character clichés.

Character reactions are exaggerated; literary topics are clearly defined; sweeping arcs in romantic or somber stories; larger-than-life plots and events; character flaws that must be overcome in order to reach a resolution; and occasionally happy or melancholic endings

Take “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen as an example of melodrama. Because of Nora’s heightened emotions, the work definitely falls into the melodramatic genre.


People frequently fail to recognize the distinction between opera and musicals. An opera is a kind of theater in which the characters sing their speech or lines rather than speak them. Additionally, an opera’s primary themes include

• Arias, which are essentially soliloquies in music.

• Scenes that propel the plot and may or may not be melodic

• A written libretto that has been set to music.

• Content that is tragic, humorous, or theatrical; • May include dance, but mostly relies on vocal performances

• Production, costume, and set design

“La Boheme” by Giacomo Puccini is among the most well-known operas ever. It depicts both the milieu of French Bohemia and the depressing story of Rodolfo and Mimi.

 Musical Drama

Opera and musicals are not the same thing. Opera lines are sung, but musical discourse is enhanced by music and theatrical productions. In musicals, the primary themes are:

• To begin with Song breaks occur on standard story points.

• Characters typically express their feelings through group singing.

• Songs as tools to change the storyline

• Dramatic or humorous storylines; • A distinctive and memorable musical composition; and • Often, a lot of singing and dancing.

Numerous musicals are based on longer literary works, like “Les Miserables” and “Phantom of the Opera.” These two musical plays employ musical interludes to move the plot forward while directly addressing their subjects through song. They streamline their source material by concentrating on the most important characters and story points.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What are the two ways through which an audience can be exposed to drama?
  2. How is drama generally classified into two categories?
  3. How do dramatists pique the reader’s interest in a play?
  4. Using Hamlet as an example, what is the suspense created around the plot?
  5. What are the seven types of drama in literature mentioned in the article?
  6. What are the essential characteristics of the comedy genre in drama?
  7. How is farce different from comedy, and what are its primary topics?
  8. What are the common themes of tragedy in drama?
  9. Give an example of a tragic play by Shakespeare mentioned in the article.
  10. What distinguishes tragi-comedy from a simple combination of humor and tragedy?
  11. What are the main characteristics of melodrama in theatrical drama?
  12. Differentiate between opera and musicals in the context of drama.
  13. Provide an example of a well-known opera mentioned in the article.
  14. How do musicals use songs to enhance the storyline?
  15. Give examples of musical plays mentioned in the article and their characteristics.

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