When attending a dramatic production, which of the four listening skills is most important? Please explain why it is one of these: 1. comprehensive  2. empathetic  3. critical  4. appreciative

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While this is a question that elicits both objective and subjective responses, there is agreement that it is important to possess all four of the listening skills for full appreciation. And, while there probably can be a sound argument for each of the four as the most important, it is essential to comprehend the elements of a drama before one can, then, be empathetic with the characters and point of view, appreciative and critical of the play.  For, without an understanding of the techniques, characterizations, themes, and expression of the dramatist, the viewer/reader is unable to reach substantial levels of appreciation, empathy, and a viable criticism.

As an example of the necessity of comprehension, an understanding of such tragic characters as Hamlet and Macbeth is absolutely essential to the critical appreciation of the dramas and any empathy for these two monumental characters. For, if the audience of Hamlet does not grasp the reasons behind Hamlet's delays, their appreciation and empathy for the Prince of Denmark is, therefore, greatly diminished.  Likewise, without the understanding that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth really love each other mitigates the perception of these two tragic characters as anything but villains. Likewise, in a modern play such as Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire, a comprehension of the haunting past of the former Southern Belle, Blanche DuBois, is essential to evaluating and empathizing with her. Comprehensive listening is essential and primary to the true appreciation and evaluation of drama.