The Influence of Genre on Five Plays’ Approaches to Social Issues Essay

The Influence of Genre on Five Plays’ Approaches to Social Issues Essay

Length: 1923 words (5.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Influence of Genre on Five Plays’ Approaches to Social Issues


What could a naturalistic “problem play”, a tragedy, a historical drama, a comedy, and a piece of “epic alienation theatre” have in common? Works of drama are created to have some kind of “effect” on an audience, and while the effects each of these plays are markedly different, each play attempts to lead an audience to think or feel a certain way towards a social problem. “A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen, Oedipus The King by Sophocles, Walsh by Sharon Pollock, Edible Woman by Dave Carley (adapted from the novel by Margaret Atwood), and The Good Woman of Setzuan by Bertolt Brecht are plays which contain characters involved in dramatizing social problems. By examining the relationships between the characters and their dramatic audiences, we gain insights into the genres of the plays.

As in many naturalistic plays, the characters in “A Doll’s House” are “round” and worthy of analysis. A characteristic of naturalism is that, “while constrained by a material environment which might be difficult to change, [characters] still [have] the possibility of overcoming their condition” (Bloomsbury 1). Through her actions, the character Christine suggests to the audience that they too can overcome their conditions, by following her example. The particular social problem that Christine illuminates is the problem of acquiring human understanding. Through Christine’s character Ibsen gives evidence to suggest that achieving deeper understandings of the world outside the “doll’s house” is possible. In confiding to Krogstad, “I have learnt to act prudently. Life, and hard, bitter necessity have taught me that,” Christine is indicating to the audience that knowledge...


... middle of paper ...


...h approach social problems varies along with their genres. In today’s world, in which social problem are ever so urgent, plays such as these are clearly becoming increasingly relevant.

Works Cited


Aristotle. Poetics. Trans. S. H. Butcher. Rpt. The Internet Classics Archive (1994). 19 Nov 2001 <http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/poetics.2.2.html>.

Brecht, Bertolt. Brecht on Theatre. Ed. and trans. John Willett. New York: Hill and Wang, 1992.

Brecht, Bertolt.The Good Woman of Setzuan. Trans. Eric Bentley. MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1947.

Ibsen, Henrik. Four Great Plays by Henrik Ibsen. Bantam Classic edition. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1981.

Pollock, Sharon. Walsh. Revised edition. Burnaby, BC: Talonbooks, 1998.

Simpson, David L. Comedy and Tragedy (1998). 18 Nov 2001 <http://condor.depaul.edu/~dsimpson/tlove/comic-tragic.html>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about The Cowboy Language of the Western Genre

- When people hear the phrase “Howdy, Partner!” they often will associate that phrase with the sublime Western genre. Along with similar settings and themes in all writings of the Western genre, there is also a similar language that stories share. Common themes of the stories include remote western American towns with the cattle culture, plots with a simple hero versus villain conflict, or a protagonist’s encounters with different cultures like the Indians or Mormons. These heroes often will have to “rid the community of savage forces (generally Indians or outlaws) to make way for the ineluctable coming of civilization” (Levinson)....   [tags: western genre, gender genre]

Powerful Essays
886 words (2.5 pages)

Social Work Approaches That Changed The Profession Essay example

- Social Work Approaches Social work has seen four approaches that has change the profession. Each one has had some large impact to the field of social work with every new approach building off the last. Each approached with similarities and differences. The approaches are traditional practice approach, multimethod practice approach, generalist practice approach, and specialist practice approaches. The first approach was traditional methods. There are five practice methods: social cases, community organization, social group work, administration, and research (Sheafor, Morales, & Scott, 2012, p....   [tags: Sociology, Social work]

Powerful Essays
859 words (2.5 pages)

Blaike Norman's Approaches to Social Enquiry Essay

- There are different ways in which researchers can use in order to establish the theoretical hypothesis they sought to establish. Before setting out on a research, the researcher must choose a research problem, the question to be addressed by the research, the strategy to be employed in the research, establish any assumption or hypothesis evolving around the research problem and the outcome expected. According to Blaike Norman in his book the ‘Approaches to social enquiry’, there are about ten research paradigms that have been classified into classical and contemporary research paradigms....   [tags: Research Paradigms, Social Theories]

Powerful Essays
803 words (2.3 pages)

Social Scandals in the Mystery Genre Essay

- In the mystery genre one can agree that for a mystery to function as it does, it must have elements like a case that must be solved, a detective or someone who is playing as the detective, and, in most cases, murder. But in the short story “A Scandal in Bohemia,” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a social scandal is a part of the theme, which is also seen in “Witness for the Prosecution,” by Agatha Christie and “Amber Gate,” by Walter Mosley. Just as a murder or a crime disrupts an aspect of society, a social scandal functions the same way....   [tags: Story Examples, Theme]

Powerful Essays
1545 words (4.4 pages)

Status, Gender, and Social Roles in William Shakespeare's Plays Essay

- The nexus of status, gender, and societal roles are consistently topics of interest among people, and can be found throughout the plays of William Shakespeare. More evident in their original production, however, through modern renditions and personal interpretation of readings these topics reoccur often His work dictated specific roles for men and women. Through analyzing said roles one can derive insights regarding the esteem of women and how the relative devaluing of women shaped normal gender roles....   [tags: social, culture, inferior]

Powerful Essays
946 words (2.7 pages)

Essay about Aristotelian Philosophy and Plays

- Aristotelian Philosophy and Plays According to Aristotelian philosophy a tragedy is a compressed development of a single plot. Aristotle's principles have been derived from Greek mythology. He studied their plays, which had been enacted and hence laid down a set of rules. All playwrights and authors have followed his rules for centuries his rules have been considered a guide to a well-written tragedy. Aristotle states that for a play to be a tragedy the play should consist of a genre and generic attributes....   [tags: Philosophy Plays Shakesepare Aristotle Essays]

Powerful Essays
1773 words (5.1 pages)

Essay about Social Status in Shakespeares Plays

- In Shakespeare's time, the English lived with a strong sense of social class -- of belonging to a particular group because of occupation, wealth, and ancestry. Elizabethan Society had a very strict social code at the time that Shakespeare was writing his plays. Social class could determine all sorts of things, from what a person could wear to where he could live to what jobs his children could get. Some families moved from one class to another, but most people were born into a particular class and stayed there....   [tags: essays research papers]

Powerful Essays
1996 words (5.7 pages)

Plays Essay

- Overview This is a research paper of at least 1000 words that examines a play or playwright that we have studied in class. Outcomes 1) Students will gain a deeper understanding of a particular area of dramatic literature. 2) Students will develop their writing skills through the completion of multiple drafts. 3) Students will develop their ability at conducting effective and ethical research. Submission of Emails All material must be submitted through email attachments, using the following format....   [tags: essays research papers fc]

Free Essays
551 words (1.6 pages)

Genre Essay

- Genre Genre is a term that is used to classify or describe a type or form of literature. While this sounds like a simple concept, it in actuality is a very complicated classing system. The reason for the complication is that literature does not always follow the typical characteristics set up by that type of genre. For example, one of the characteristics in the genre of tragedy is that there is a tragic hero, who is in a position of power. In the classical tragedy this is true, as can be seen in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex because the tragic hero is Oedipus, who is the king of Thebes....   [tags: Expository Definition Essays]

Free Essays
964 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on Genre

- The Importance of Genre Authors, readers, and those in literary circles use the term 'genre' to classify the different modes of expression used in individual works of literature. The importance of this term can most easily be understood when examining the human tendency to classify the majority of items in our society. When examining literature, using the term 'genre' can be tricky. For example, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley can be categorized as a Gothic novel. However, this work also has elements of a Supernatural Story and a Horror novel....   [tags: Expository Definition Essays]

Free Essays
541 words (1.5 pages)