Last Updated on March 17, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 131
Melodrama - a form of play that intensifies sentiment, exaggerates emotions, and relates sensational and thrilling action with four basic sharply contrasted and simplified characters: the hero, the heroine, their comic ally, and a villain. The action is constantly kept at high tension.
The term is from the French melodrame which was derived from the Greek melos, meaning “song.”
Originally, melodramas were Roman plays with music, song, and dance. In the Eighteenth Century, the form evolved into productions with elaborate but oversimplified and coincidental romantic plots without regard for character development or logic, but having much sentimentality and sometimes a happy ending. The first in England was the 1802 A Tale of Mystery. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, written in 1853, is also considered a melodrama.
Explore all literary terms.
Unlock This Study Guide Now
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