Essay on Book Report on Martin Esslin's an Anatomy of Drama

Essay on Book Report on Martin Esslin's an Anatomy of Drama

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Martin Esslin, an established drama director, scholar, and critic, approaches his analysis of drama by drawing on his practical experience as a director of plays. Esslin implicitly assumes that drama is the most elite of the artistic genres when he directly declares the purpose of his book, which is to answer the question "why should those concerned with art resort to drama rather than any other form of communication?" Esslin then immediately poses another question that he seems to take as a prerequisite for the first question: "What is the underlying, basic nature of dramatic form and what is it that drama can express better than any other form of communication?"

Esslin's book consists of eleven chapters each of which touches on a dramatic phenomenon or critical issue. His book is opens with a preface and is appended a general index of plays and secondary resources. There are three explanatory diagrams in the book through which Esslin clarifies his theory on suspense. The book discusses the common definitions of drama in the first chapter, goes over the theories and critical aspects of drama as a genre in the following chapters, and concludes by declaring some statements about the truth of drama in the last chapter. Esslin often follows a pattern throughout his chapters; he undermines a critical thought or unravels a common critical confusion then injects his own notions and critical thoughts.

In the first chapter Esslin deems all common definitions of drama as lacking and insufficient since they overlook dramatic genres that are not staged. He thus draws heavily on those who regard live theatre as the only true form of drama. And yet Esslin does not state his own definition. He instead declares that drama should not have ...


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...ements demonstrate that the truth of drama lies in the fact that every playwright creates his play in a subconsciously self-reflexive manner while he is one of us as human beings. Thus drama is, in a wider sense, a true reflection of man. A play, the write adds, is multidimensional and many of its events occur simultaneously exactly like life itself. Drama is like life also because the onus is on the audience to find the meaning while in other genres the writer might interfere, technically or otherwise, to impose his point of view.

Esslin's book is successful since the authenticity of his arguments is proven because he reflects on his practical experience as a director all along his theoretical delineation of drama. In addition, Esslin rarely proposes an argument without exemplifying on it which flavors the process of reading the book with reality and credibility.

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