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The Decline of the Play in Poetic Form

The play in poetic form was popularized by Shakespeare, with works such as "Twelfth Night", "Hamlet", "Othello", et cetera. The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries had a number of playwrights who wrote their plays in poetic form (Aside from Shakespeare, Moliere, and Racine, come to mine). However, only one such play was written in the Twentieth Century (T.S. Eliot’s "Murder in the Cathedral", and in the 1930s). Is there an explanation for such a decline in such authorship, and if so, what is it? Some factors that I would consider would be court culture (Versailles is an example), court funding for such work to have patronage, how absolute the ruler is, et cetera. If there are other factors that you would note, I am all ears.

  • The Ancient Greeks made poetic drama and dramatic verse popular before Shakespeare. I believe he effectively stole a number of their plays to make his own. We should also note that prose never became much of a thing until a little past the middle of the last millennium. Before we leave the realm of literature for its external influences, I think it's worth thinking hard about how much poetry has been in decline overall. Not long ago I attended Simon Armitage's inaugural lecture as Professor of Poetry at Oxford; the whole thing was about how poetry was a struggling and even dying art form. The history of poetry itself should be a primary concern for this topic, and subsequent to that should be insights into how popular opinion of verse has shifted. Yeats's verse dramas should also definitely be considered, and the effects of the greats of drama in prose around the turn of the century - Ibsen, Shaw, for instance - ought also to be examined as influential. – JekoJeko 6 years ago
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