The term "modern" can refer to the period in western civilization from the Renaissance onward, marked by the rise of the use of the vernacular or to the "modernist" period of the early twentieth century.
In the case of the more general use of the term "modern" as opposed to classical, The Playboy of the Western World is modern for several reasons, the first being its date. Next, it is written in English rather than Greek or Latin. It does not use a chorus and is written in prose. Female roles were intended to be played by female actors. It is designed for a proscenium stage with the illusion of a "fourth wall."
For modern in the sense of "modern drama" as it began with Ibsen and moved towards modernism, the play is broadly realistic, addressing the concerns of average people rather than nobles, kings, or heroes. Its plot is neither pure tragedy nor pure comedy but a mixture of genres. It deals with questions of sexual conduct in a way that would have been mildly scandalous in the Victorian...
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