LITERARY TERMS & THEMATIC ELEMENTS
EILAND'S ONLINE ENGLISH CLASSES
Terms for Drama
- ASIDES: Words (usually quips-humorous comments) addressed to audience, and
ignored by other actors as if unheard.
- CHARACTER: A player in the play.
- COMEDY: A play whose tone is essentially uplifting. Often uses irony and/or
sarcasm to show dark sides of life. Has a happy ending…in other words, protagonist/hero,
despite flaws and fate against him or her, prevails in the face of overwhelming odds.
- DIALOGUE: Parts of the play spoken by characters. As there is usually no narrator,
the entire plot and its aspects must be contained in dialogue.
- DRAMA: General term to describe character interplay. Today, often means a
serious, non-comedic performance in a movie or on television. Involves conflict or
contrast of character.
- HUBRIS: Overreaching pride in a character, usually a fatal flaw for a tragic hero in classical plays and fiction. Hubris is often characterized in dismissal of power of society, seers of the future, or the gods. This inevitably results in loss of power, physical strength or life.
- STAGE: Where play is performed. As a verb, it means to put on a play.
- SOLILOQUY: A solo speech by a character, usually addressing the major conflict
of the play. Reflects inner thoughts and struggles of character, and is addressed to the
character him- or herself.
- TRAGEDY: A serious look at life. Ultimately, the hero, despite overwhelming
strengths, will lose in the end, usually as the result of one major flaw (see Hubris).
© T. T. Eiland, January 1998
Last modified: March 30, 2000