There have been many dramatic plays over the centuries. Many of these plays have died in their time, while others have lived on. What makes these plays endure time and continue to be influential over time? Perhaps it is the storyline or the interesting nature of the play is what makes these dramas last. I think that it is the focus on human nature and its essential truths that keep these plays alive. Most of the plays, still enacted in theaters today, deal with social issues that people can learn from and relate to. Social relationships seem to remain constant over time.
Technology has changed dramatically, but human interaction is still basically the same. Human relationships have been recorded and interpreted by many authors in different literary genres through time. Drama has produced many lasting works. They have lasted because peoples ability to relate to them in any time frame due to the social theme, specifically, individualism, reality versus fantasy, actions and consequences, social standing, lies and deceptions, and human talents. In ancient Greece, the people believed in many gods.
It was thought that going against the will of these gods would result in punishment. The famous Greek writer, Sophocles, made a very good interpretation of this relationship between the people and the gods in the tragedy titled “Antigone. ” This play focused on the actions of the characters in the play, and the consequences that would result. It made a direct link between the consequences and the power of the gods. Creon, the stubborn king, would not bury Polynices even though it was the will of the gods. The blind prophet Tiresias warns Creon of this.
He says “all men make mistakes, it is only human… a man can turn back on his folly, misfortune too, if he tries to make amends” (Sophocles). Creon would eventually lose his son and his wife in this ordeal. Creon was too stubborn to succumb to the gods, and that was the consequence he faced. We can relate to this scenario today. The gods may not be that are the source of our consequences, but everyone knows that actions always bring about consequences, either by law or just life. This play may urge a reader to consider his actions when thinking of what happened to Creon.
Learning from literature is an important aspect of reading. What else would you get out of reading besides pleasure? That is another reason for the lasting effect of the dramas. A reader would be able to take the play and use its lesson in his or her own life. It is possible to learn from the morality play, Everyman by Anonymous. It teaches that you should use your talents as well as you can. Everyman, the character in the story, refers to every man. He learned that he should have used his talents instead of wasting them.
When faced with Death he learns that he must turn over his Book of Accounts to God. He does not have a worthy Book of Accounts and that he must go to Confession in order to make amends. After seeing Confession, he left “on his way to present [his] reckoning and pay [his] debts” (Anonymous). He then descended to his grave only able to take Good Deeds with him and his soul was taken to heaven. This teaches us “that we can take with us from this world nothing that we have received, only what we have given” (Jokinen). I’m sure you have heard the expression “learn from your mistakes.
If it is possible to learn from your mistakes, then it must be possible to learn from another person’s mistakes or even a ficticious character’s mistakes. You may even be able to learn from their way of life. The characters may not be real people, but they can be important interpretations of real-life situations by creative authors. Everyman is a good example of this. And it still applies today, even though it was written in 1485. “The Doll’s House” (1879) by Henrick Ibsen portrays the life of Nora Helmer. I’m sure many people could relate to this character.
Nora did not have any sense of who she really was because she had followed her father and her husband all of her life. She was like a grown up child. When she finally realizes that she has been pampered all of her life, she leaves Torvald, her husband, to learn about her self. The Fisher girl costume symbolizes this perfectly. She pretends to enjoy her life by wearing this for the dance she performs at the neighbors, but she knows she doesn’t enjoy her life because she has no sense of herself. “A Doll’s House” seems like it will be relevant to the world of literature as long as it lasts.
Many different people can relate to each character in the play according to their personalities. There is Krogstad, the sneaky devil, Torvald, the serious man with his doll, and Dr. Rank, the moral judge. Personally, I could relate to Dr. Rank because he is very judgemental about the world and individuals. I don’t judge morally as he does, but I tend to judge the world, people around me, and their characteristics in which I form my own views. We’ve been able to relate to the lasting plays not only from ancient Greece, but the 1800’s and 1400’s. How could we relate to a play like the Glass Menagerie (1945)?
The play is fairly recent compared to the others that have been discussed, but it has still lasted the test of time. This play deals with an “escape” theme. The characters in the play attempt to escape into their own imaginative place away from all that makes their lives worthless. They all have created their own little worlds in which they can leave their miserable realities. Laura has her glass menagerie, Amanda has her gentleman callers, and Tom gets drunk and goes to the movies. They escape reality into their own worlds whenever they can in hope of finding happiness in the real world.
I see the average American Joe playing the role of Tom. Joe comes home from work, grabs a beer, turns off the reality switch, and absorbs himself into the world of television. Joe just has routine in his life. The same thing over and over again, slightly different, but the same. He is no longer himself. He is an escapist. The world he knows is pathetic, but the world in the television is far more interesting. I think the “Glass Menagerie” and its theme of escape is recognized by many people and is then kept alive in the literature world.
Tennessee Williams’ ability to bring us into the mind of Tom makes the play interesting and gives it a lasting effect. The ability to relate to characters in drama and to the social theme is the key to the lasting effect of these plays. There are many other reasons for the plays’ remaining existence, but none compare to the personal relationships that are built in the dramas such as “Doll’s House” and “Everyman. ” People enjoy this relationship, and it is those people who keep the plays in existence by purchasing the paperback or attending the play at a theater.