History of Victorian Melodrama

Length: 9 Pages 2361 Words

Within every society there is some form of public entertainment. From the medieval days of public beheadings, to the contemporary enjoyment of watching someone get their heart broken on television, public entertainment has played a key role in all eras. Victorian England is no exception to the rule. Within the realm of public entertainment theatre played a key role. Upon deeper investigation one will see that melodrama was a central concentration in Victorian theatre. Melodrama has evolved throughout the ages and has come full circle today. Without the evolutionary process that took place during the Victorian age this would not have been possible. Before beginning the detailed account of the evolution of the melodrama, one should have a brief knowledge of the history of theatre in Victorian England. Some of the greatest evolutionary developments happened during the Victorian age. Over the years the urban growth brought many changes to England, especially London and its surrounding areas. One of the most crucial changes was a direct effect of this population increase. The obvious social consequence of the population increase in London and other cities was an increase in the potential audience for theatre, an increase especiall Continue...


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Weather the hero be good or evil, he will have an attribute that makes him recognizable and domestic. The earliest English melodrama A Tale of Mystery (1802) was gothic in nature and was influenced by the English Gothic novel. y in the new industrial and working class (Booth 3). Reality television shows are currently popping up everywhere because ratings are through the roof, as were family based sitcoms in the 1980's. Apparently, people learned at an early period in time to offer what the audience wanted. "Domestic melodrama with a native setting, first introduced in the 1820s, prevailed over the other kinds by the 1840s and dominated the stage thereafter (Booth 153). Victorian melodrama contained every ingredient possible to appeal to the public: strong emotion, tragedy, comedy, romantic sets, suspense, life lessons, love, suffering, and mortality. Just like Victorian melodrama and their producers, contemporary television shows are offering what the public wants. While Gothic melodrama was around long before the accession of Queen Victoria, it played a pivotal role in the evolution of melodrama as a whole. Unlike present day theatre, spectators in full or partially reduced light viewed Victorian theatre. This made the Victorian melodrama something to see. It also meant that due to more labor opportunities and segregated arenas the divide between classes would continue to grow "Between the years 1828 and 1843 eight theatres were constructed and opened for business (Booth 4). Without the development that took place during the Victorian age, who knows where melodrama would be. Another difference between Victorian and present day theatre, is that seats were not meant for comfort.

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