Guide to Literary Terms

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What is drama?

Drama is a work of prose or verse intended for presentation as a stage performance and works of fiction that are characterized as serious or emotional. 


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Last Updated May 26, 2023.

A drama is a work of prose or verse intended for presentation as a stage performance. The term can also be applied to works of literature that are serious or emotional. 


Drama is a Greek word meaning "action, deed, play" and derives from dran, meaning "to do, to perform."


Western drama originated as religious ceremonies performed in ancient Athens. The first dramas were tragedies, which featured one or more characters and a large chorus that provided commentary on the play's action. The first known playwright and actor was Thespis, who lived during the 6th century BCE. His name was later adapted into the term "thespian," synonymous with actor and used to describe the dramatic arts.

Numerous literary works are considered dramas. A few good examples include Romeo and Juliet, Death of a Salesman, A Doll's House, and A Streetcar Named Desire. These are just a few examples of the wide range of dramatic literary works, each offering unique insights into human nature, society, and the complexities of the human experience.


see: chorustragedyabsurdantagonistdialogueprotagonistsatire 

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