Why were there no plays in the Romantic period?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

First, we must separate “drama” from theatre – there was plenty of theatrical activity between, let us say, 1800 and 1850, but the plays of that era appealed to the crowds as entertainment, not art, and many were in the “Melodrama” category.  The Romantic literary spirit lent itself more to the "one narrator" form of verse, rather than the “no narrator” dramatic form, since it dealt with a personal response to natural events.  However, there were several products of Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth, etc. that were “dramatic” according to Aristotle’s definition; Coleridge’s Osorio or The Borderers, for example, and Prometheus Unbound (Shelley).  Sometimes called “closet dramas,”  these pieces were not meant to be performed primarily, but to be read (sometimes aloud by amateurs in their parlors). Byron called it “mental theatre.”    They were written often based on the political unrest of the Revolutionary times in America and France.  These dramas, never as popular as odes and sonnets, are often ignored in undergraduate studies.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial