5 thoughts on “English 49013: Melodrama, Spring 2019

  1. Alexandra Turner

    For this first blog post, I will be discussing “The Forest of Bondy: or the Dog of Montargis” and Mathew Buckley’s article, “Early English Melodrama.” Buckley’s article is interesting because he explains the history of melodrama, which he calls an “mixed illegitimate form” of theater, by separating it into several distinct stages that is based on changing trends as well as time period: gothic melodrama (1800’s), exotic, military and historical melodrama (1810’s), domestic and nautical melodramas (1820’s), crime melodramas (1830’s) and the Adelphi melodramas (1840’s) (kindle,13). Buckley then goes into detail regarding the different characteristics that each of these phases encompassed as well as the historical events that were relevant to creating this new trend of melodrama. For example, Buckley describes Gothic melodrama as the starting stage of melodrama, a genre devoted to emotional and sensational material, which attempts connect to the audience on a visceral level. Some characteristics of Gothic melodrama, he explains, are elements of tragedy, terror, horror as well as fantastic situations, and lurid violence. This is best exemplified by the play we read for today, “The Dog of Montargis,” which exemplifies elements of violence and terror through the murder of Aubri and the framing of Florio while at the same time, fantastical, wherein a dog named Dragon is able to help the peasants prove Florio’s innocence and find Aubri’s true murderer. He then goes on to compare the different stages to “waves.” This is particularly interesting, as I initially thought that the changes in the characteristics of the melodramas was, in a sense, isolated, wherein the changes were like very structured, wherein new trends built new material on the old (25). However, in describing the changes in melodrama as waves, it gave me a better understanding of how these dramas shifted in content, by creating new material and taking a step forward, but also at the same time reusing and reinterpreting a lot of old material as well as reviving old trends.

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  2. Jennifer Hua

    In today’s discussion, I will be writing about insights I have found in Matthew Buckley’s interpretations on Melodrama. Something that I thought was exciting and attention grabbing was when he wrote about how he was surprised that the French were the first people to discover Melodrama, when England was the country with “intermixture of genre and mode was freer…” (Pg. 14, Buckley). It is interesting how places with the least amount of creative can create something innovative within the theatre world. I believe, however, that it is possible that Buckley was possibly unknown to the creativity France might have had. Another important aspect of the interpretations is his description about melodrama, and how true of a description it is, “from its emphasis on action and emotion, its monopathic character types and polarized moral employment of pantomime and tableau, its formal fusion of romantic, tragic, and sentimental comic modes, and even its use of music to accompany action and sharp feeling- are either well-established norms or popular trends” (Pg. 14, Buckley). This is very true descriptions especially when it describes the play, The Forest of Bondy; or The Dog of Montargis, by Guilbert De Pixerecourt. In this play, there is also a romantic situation and moments where music is used to add action or to add onto the action. “[Florio, answers by the most expressive pantomime that it is not gratitude, but love, the most passionate, he feels for Lucille. Music]” (Pg. 216, Pixerecourt.) Florio is scared, but admitted to Lucille of his feelings. Although she disapproved in the beginning, she fell in love with him throughout the play, so this is where the romance grows. It makes me excited to see more examples of melodrama, and I hope they are all going to be as interesting than The Dog of Montargis.

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  3. In today’s discussion, I will be writing about insights I have found in Matthew Buckley’s interpretations on Melodrama. Something that I thought was exciting and attention grabbing was when he wrote about how he was surprised that the French were the first people to discover Melodrama, when England was the country with “intermixture of genre and mode was freer…” (Pg. 14, Buckley). It is interesting how places with the least amount of creative can create something innovative within the theatre world. I believe, however, that it is possible that Buckley was possibly unknown to the creativity France might have had. Another important aspect of the interpretations is his description about melodrama, and how true of a description it is, “from its emphasis on action and emotion, its monopathic character types and polarized moral employment of pantomime and tableau, its formal fusion of romantic, tragic, and sentimental comic modes, and even its use of music to accompany action and sharp feeling- are either well-established norms or popular trends” (Pg. 14, Buckley). This is very true descriptions especially when it describes the play, The Forest of Bondy; or The Dog of Montargis, by Guilbert De Pixerecourt. In this play, there is also a romantic situation and moments where music is used to add action or to add onto the action. “[Florio, answers by the most expressive pantomime that it is not gratitude, but love, the most passionate, he feels for Lucille. Music]” (Pg. 216, Pixerecourt.) Florio is scared, but admitted to Lucille of his feelings. Although she disapproved in the beginning, she fell in love with him throughout the play, so this is where the romance grows. It makes me excited to see more examples of melodrama, and I hope they are all going to be as interesting than The Dog of Montargis.

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  4. Asia

    Katherine Newey’s, Melodrama and Gender highlights women and their role in melodrama. Melodrama during the 1820’s and 30’s gave women in drama roles
    “agency and voice and dominant physical presence on the start throughout the century.” (page 151, Newey) Newey expressed how important it was when it came to putting women in the middle of the drama. While also expressing the importance of making women the center of the drama, she always expresses the ways that women were portrayed on the stage during the drama. Melodrama during the 1800’s gave women characters the freedom and willpower on stage. “The Rent-Day” was a great play. It connected with Katherine Newey’s reading. Douglas William Jerrold showed what plays were like with women at the forefront of it. It definitely gave me a melodramatic feel.

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  5. cmazz93

    In my reading of The Forest of Bondy; or The Dog of Montargis by Guilbert de Pixérécourt I was having some difficulties in determining which category best represents this play. I found that it was written in 1814, so therefore fits within the Gothic time period, but rather than be gothic, I believe it is within that pivotal point where Gothic plays were changing into a different category. Although I still believe that this play maintains gothic elements.
    In Pixérécourt’s play there was the conventional Gothic elements of armies, castles, knighthood, and the impending looming feeling of bloodshed that may occur at any moment, especially between Aubri and Macaire. These characters’ scene in Act 1 where Macaire demands that Aubri relinquish the title bestowed upon him by his commander and refuse the commander’s daughter as a bride, creates the element of thrill that these two soldiers will clash arms at any moment. Although Aubri responds to these demands with “When did you know me guilty of a base and dishonorable?”, he maintains his integrity and virtue, but the audience is still seeking, which according to Buckley is, “thrill rather by the fear of lawless violence in an uncivilized world than by horror of dungeons and the aristocracy’s dead hand,” (Early English Melodrama, Buckley, pg 16).
    I believe Pixérécourt includes these conventions of Gothic plays, but is able to revamp the genre by included other reactions and feelings of suspense that evoke more than just thrill, such as when Aubri’s dog Dragon attacks Macaire because he knows that was his owner’s murderer or when Florio is wrongfully accused of the crime.

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