21 thoughts on “Blog entries on Newey and McWilliams, due Feb. 12

  1. Pingback: English 49013: Melodrama, Spring 2019 – Renata Kobetts Miller, Ph.D.

  2. Oliver

    A typical modern reaction to The Rent Day by William Jerrold might focus on its predictability and issues with structure and logic. However as Rohan McWilliam writes in his essay “Melodrama and Class”, the predictability was part of the appeal: Melodrama as “an [assemblage] of conventions and symbols that became a shared language between stage and audience…[a] shared discourse” which acknowledges “class, inequality, hierarchy, and power relations” (164). Predictability let audiences easily access and relate to the material and to participate in the “communal” experience of the Theater. This experiencing of Melodramas, of seeing “people like themselves on stage” (165), spoke to popular concerns, becoming a “good device to think with or, in the words of Peter Brooks, a ‘sense making system’” (174) for audience members of various classes. In English society in particular, people were more interested and desired a re-enforcement of the idea that different classes functioned in “complementary roles” (167). As a result, most melodramas speaking of class (such as The Rent Day) espouse a “generous and slightly incoherent populism that [celebrate] the lives of the common people” (168). Obviously, the conclusion of Jerrold’s play with its discovery of an inheritance of gold at the last moment stretches the boundaries of believability. But “[w]armth and sympathy were seen as more important” (168) by audiences of the time. Over the top lines such as when Rachel pleads “Our children! They would die there! Die amongst strangers” (Act 1, Scene III) were met not with eye-rolls but compassion and further emotional investment.

    Like

  3. Alondra

    “I am concerned with the performances of gender in melodrama”
    The opening sentence of Newey’s essay is my favorite of the piece. Though she spoke specifically of the staged performance of gender, I thought mostly of the performance that is inherent in gender roles. The idea that we are all playing the parts that we’ve been taught to play for centuries. While reading this essay, the reader is both the male/female heroine Newey speaks of and the male and female playing the role in real-life.
    I was shocked to learn that the “the feeling, suffering woman” was radical for the time because I was under the impression that that’s all women were allowed to be in the theatre and in art for as long as it was being produced. It never occurred to me that there was a starting point for the trope.
    The fact that the transgressive woman, who dares do anything other than suffer, usually dies at the end of the play tells me a lot of 17th century England but the fact that we are still there tells me even more about who we are as people and what we think woman deserve.
    “The melodrama hero articulates – often at length – his emotional states and dilemmas, undercutting stereotypes of manly reservation and emotional stability”
    I wonder the intention with which Jerrold and other playwrights wrote emotionally available men. I am not entirely sure if Martins emotional availability and vulnerability is to be found comedic despite his circumstances.
    If the men in melodrama, contrary to the men of the time, often show and speak of their emotional life –Is it commentary? Is it a dramatic tool?

    Like

  4. “I am concerned with the performances of gender in melodrama”
    The opening sentence of Newey’s essay is my favorite of the piece. Though she spoke specifically of the staged performance of gender, I thought mostly of the performance that is inherent in gender roles. The idea that we are all playing the parts that we’ve been taught to play for centuries. While reading this essay, the reader is both the male/female heroine Newey speaks of and the male and female playing the role in real-life.
    I was shocked to learn that the “the feeling, suffering woman” was radical for the time because I was under the impression that that’s all women were allowed to be in the theatre and in art for as long as it was being produced. It never occurred to me that there was a starting point for the trope.
    The fact that the transgressive woman, who dares do anything other than suffer, usually dies at the end of the play tells me a lot of 17th century England but the fact that we are still there tells me even more about who we are as people and what we think woman deserve.
    “The melodrama hero articulates – often at length – his emotional states and dilemmas, undercutting stereotypes of manly reservation and emotional stability”
    I wonder the intention with which Jerrold and other playwrights wrote emotionally available men. I am not entirely sure if Martins emotional availability and vulnerability is to be found comedic despite his circumstances.
    If the men in melodrama, contrary to the men of the time, often show and speak of their emotional life –Is it commentary? Is it a dramatic tool?

    Like

  5. Xena Leycea Bruno

    Jerrold’s The Rent Day is a great example of domestic melodrama, where the real-world is depicted on stage. According to Newey, centering a plot around a woman facing danger in real life settings is effective because it is clear she signifies virtue. The audience is sympathetic because they know all too well what the character experiences as they currently endure the same hardships. Therefore, melodrama gives women a space for agency and voice. For example, in Act III Scene II, after escaping Jack’s attack, Rachael overhears his and Hyssop’s plans to rob Mr.Crumb’s estate. Similar to Newey’s Martha example, Rachael resolves to warn Mr.Crumb about their plans. Although she is still in danger, she resolves to put her safety aside to help Mr.Crumb. This heroic display is what Newey means when she states, “heroines play the role of carrier hegemonic patriarchal values” (Newey, 151). Rachael’s decision demonstrates honor and courage.

    However, Newey’s claim that “female characters… provide a partial model for liberation” is completely supported when Martin believes Jack instead of Rachael(Newey, 153). Martin trusts a man that helped an appraiser take his land, over the word of his wife. Martin only believes Rachael did not cheat on him when Grantley supports Rachael’s truth. Again, a man’s testimony is more important than his wife’s. Although Rachael is virtuous, Martin upholds the word of unknown men instead of her’s, indicating that women did not have the same agency as men.

    Like

  6. Alexandra Turner

    When reading Rohan McWilliam’s article, “Melodrama and Class” I found it interesting in how he describes the political dynamics within melodramas. He argues that melodramas are neither radical nor conservative, but rather a “negotiation between different groups” (kindle, 66). I have also noticed that melodramas tend to “toe the line” in a sense, when it comes to the political messages that they portray. For example, in Rent Day, the playwright condemns the treatment of the peasants of the play by the elite landlord through the dialogue of the character Toby but the play ends with the same landlord redeeming himself by saving the Haywood family. This seems to demonstrate that the play swings between radical and conservative notions, such as a criticism of the elite while at the same time promoting the romantic paternalism of the elite.

    This type of negation between the lines is explained by McWilliams as a consequence of the censorism of the Lord Chamberlain of the English government as well by the self-censorism of nervous theater managers who feared reprisal. Therefore, this type of dynamic makes melodrama seem to be a type of media with faux radicalism, wherein radicalism is fronted by conservative agenda. This theory is sustained by McWilliams who recognizes that many melodramas portray stories that advertise a world where the aristocracy is mainly in control as well as emphasizing themes of national identity, Christian morality and romantic love between class lines (168). The adherence to these conservative and romanticized ideals makes me believe that melodrama attempted to appeal all and to break through class lines in terms of appeal, at the cost of not taking a risk and defining itself politically which exemplifies how clearly it is a “pop” theatrical form.

    Like

  7. Argenis Santana

    Katherine Newey’s Essay titled Melodrama and Gender focuses on the genre of domestic melodrama, masculinity and women writing melodrama. One of the ideas in the essay that caught my attention was the portrayal of masculinity in melodrama. Newey’s provides a definition to masculinity by stating “Manliness in the period was stereotypically represented as emotionally reserved, respectable, brave and honourable” (Williams 153). Then she states the way masculinity is portrayed in Melodrama.
    Newey’s says, “In melodrama, heroes are brave, courageous, and honest, but they are anything but reserved and emotionally repressed” (Williams 153). As I was reading The Rent Day by Douglas William Jerrold, I was able to spot a few examples of the male characters expressing their emotions. The first example I noticed is when Martin is confronting Rachel because he believes she was unfaithful.
    The other example I noticed is at the ending of the play when Crumbs reveals his reason of revenge to Grantley. This brought me back to the idea Newey states about the soliloquy and how she states which characters are given these lines. The essay states “It is the father, the working man, the beggar, and the criminal- characters usually relegated to comic scenes or introduced as functions of the plot in tragedy” (Williams 154). In the play Martin represents the beggar and Crumbs represents the criminal Newey is talking about and having these two characters have power lines made the play more relatable.

    Like

  8. For this assignment I decided to focus on Katherine Newey’s Essay “Melodrama and Gender”. The concepts that I found particually interesting was her focus on domestic melodrama as a genre and women in meoldramtic writings. One interesting concept presented by Newey is that the performance of emotion in dramatic melodrama “underpinned the politics of protest and reform of the period” (149). I think that its’s imporatnt that during these time periods melodrama acted as a poltical outlet for social issues like gender. According Newey in “Melodrama and Gender”, “Melodrama placed the feeling idvidual at the center of the drama to make powerful statements about human subjectivity abd what it is to be human- and women an femininity were central to that melodramatic representation” (149). “The Rent Day” by William Jerrold is an example of domestic melodrama that has a “heroic” female character. Rachel is displayed as a heroic charcter when she decides to warn Mr. Crumb about Hyssop’s plans to rob the estate. Newey states that “melodrama gives female characters voice [and] dominant physical prescence on the stage throughout the century” (150). Athough Newey gives alot more weight and importance to this idea of female voice, Rachel is able to be seen as a hero for her actions. She puts her safety on hold in order to alert Mr.Crumb of Hyssop’s plot.

    Like

  9. Fariha Wadud

    In Katherine Newey’s chapter of The Cambridge Companion to English Melodrama, titled “Melodrama and Gender,” Newey details two different kinds of melodrama that portray women in two different kinds of light. The first genre of melodrama she mentions is the domestic melodrama, in which the female character simultaneously conforms to literary gender norms and is liberated. The second kind of melodrama is what Newey calls the “she-drama,” in which the female protagonist breaks gender norms. The example that Newey gives to explain this latter type of melodrama is the play, Agnes de Vere; or the Wife’s Revenge. While Agnes is an impassioned woman whose liberation is shown through the way she tries to exact revenge on her husband and his lover, her ultimate death reveals that she is not truly fully liberated. However, despite the fact that Agnes is not completely liberated, Newey argues that what the domestic melodrama and the “she-drama” have in common is that the women in both these genres are allowed to express their emotions. They are not voiceless, as is typical of the women in other literary genres.

    Rachel in Douglas William Jerrold’s, The Rent Day, is portrayed as the faithful, virtuous wife that Newey claims is reflective of domestic melodramas. She is optimistic and supportive of her husband in the beginning of the play despite the fact that the future appears grim for their family. As Newey claims is representative of female characters in domestic melodramas, Rachel’s character combines the expected with the new. At the end of the play, when she protests against being distanced from her children, she cries, “I do not ask you to speak to me, to look at me; —let me work with the slaves you speak of; let me die, so as I die not from my children!” (Jerrold 278). Although she faints directly after speaking these lines (thus upholding the stereotypical image of the frail woman), Rachel speaks with a clear, authoritative voice before doing so. She does not faint merely upon hearing Martin’s decision to leave with their children, but she argues back with great strength and passion, displaying her own unique voice that Newey claims is a feature of melodrama. At this point in the play, Rachel is not a minor character. The audience can hear from her directly, rendering her just an important a character as Martin himself. However, although Rachel is given a voice, she also acts in stereotypically female manners, such as fainting due to high emotions or falling into her husband’s arms when he asks for her forgiveness at the end. In this way, The Rent Day portrays the complexity of melodrama; while it attempts to complicate the female gender, it simultaneously falls prey to various stereotypes.

    Like

  10. Rana A alsayegh

    In the 19th century and according to Newey, women and femininity were essential to melodramatic representation especially the invention of melodramatic heroine.
    Melodrama gave female characters power, energy of expression, voice, and a dominant physical presence on the stage throughout the century. Also, most of the emotional energy of melodrama was invested in heroine and narratives of virtue in great danger.
    English domestic melodrama developed from romantic and gothic drama, and some writers such as Douglas Jerrold gave a set of melodramatic conventions which combined the story of a working woman in danger with scenes of contemporary life. As an example, in his domestic drama “Martha Willis the Servant Maid,” he focused on young heroine and their battles with the world outside their villages and homes.

    As for the heroes in melodrama, they are presented as brave, honest, and of course, the strong feeling hero is not unusual in the repertoire of drama in English. In domestic melodrama, emotional domestic men developed from working men to a new kind of hero; to a working man facing oppressive forces of industrial capitalism and protesting them.

    Women writing melodrama: Mrs. Denvil was a playwright who was present and active in the mid-nineteenth century. She wrote several short melodramas and wrote to supply the family finances. She was by no means as obscure in her own time and community as she is now. She wrote plays about working women and her script places female action and agency at the center of the drama.

    “The Rent Day” is a domestic play full of strong emotions. Jerrold in this play gave the female character “Rachel,” power and the energy of expression this can be seen as an example when Rachel was “kneeling to Martin” and said, “I tell you, I shall go mad—raving mad—to lose my children! I do not ask you to speak to me, to look at me {…} (Faints and falls over Martin’s knee—the children surround her) (p. 278).
    Also, Rachel was given a heroine role and narratives of virtue in facing danger. This can be seen when she refuses the money from Jack, “There (drops the purse at his feet) is your money. (going) (p.272). And when she saved Grantley’s life, “I fled and hid myself—listened to the plan of murder and ran to the mansion.” (p.278).
    Martin is also an example of a working emotional domestic man, “(falling despairingly into a chair) I am mad. God help me! —I am mad!” (p.270).

    Like

  11. In “Melodrama and Gender”, Katherine Newey presents the ways in which melodrama has been a vehicle for challenging hegemonic ideas of gender, and then details the story of a particular female playwright, Mrs. Denvil, who was able to be a financially successful playwright of melodrama, but has now since been forgotten. Newey points out that all mediums of melodrama are intrinsically about gender. She says, “Melodrama placed the feeling individual at the centre of the drama to make powerful statements about human subjectivity and what it is to be human – and women and femininity were central to that melodramatic representation” (149). She goes on to discuss the different ways women have been portrayed on stage, whether it be “a Gothic drama suffering victim”, “working class heroines of the domestic drama”, or the “heroine-villains of the sensation drama” (149). Newey argues that the “active, feeling, suffering woman” of melodrama was actually progressive and pushing gender boundaries of the time (149). While plays couldn’t be very subversive due to censorship, these plays still were doing something positive in the way of gender representation that is further discussed in the section on “Domestic Melodrama”. Newey argues that no matter how much the action and plot of a melodramatic play restricts a female character, the ability to express emotions physically, excessively, loudly, makes these emotions more valid and universal, as it expresses “experience and emotion beyond the quotidian limits of the domestic sphere, and in this gesture towards a broader experience, they provide a partial mode for liberation” (153). Newey also discusses how traditional views of masculinity are challenged in melodrama. While men were traditionally supposed to be “emotionally reserved”, in melodrama, they were incredibly expressive with their emotions, and spent most of their time on stage communicating these feelings in impassioned monologues or dramatic gestures (153).

    For me, it is hard to think of a play like the The Rent Day as one doing anything subversive in ways of gender representation. By the end of the play, Rachel is stripped of all of her lines (not that she had that many to begin with) and her conflict with her husband is resolved with her in silence, despite all the pages of injustice she has just endured from her disbelieving husband. Reading Newey’s piece helped me to step back and try to see some of the subtle aspects of representation of women in melodrama that Newey points out.

    While Rachel may not have an overwhelming amount of lines, she is present for and motivates many of the major plot points of the play. As well, in stage directions, and lines by both Martin and Rachel, we get a sense of the significance of the type of expressive emotion Newey describes as being partially liberating. On Page 278, Martin calls Rachel’s desperate cries to keep her children as “wild and useless” and then Rachel threatens she will go “raving mad” without them and then faints. It is clear that Rachel, while repressed by the actual plot of the play, gets to wholly take up deserved space physically and emotionally on stage. I still wouldn’t consider this play particularly good representation of women having agency, but I do see the significance of Rachel’s physical presence and expression to the possibility of her existence being more than just a plot device.

    As well, Newey made me consider the importance of Martin’s emotional responses in this play. Martin outwardly expresses the grief and anguish he is feeling towards his continual misfortunes. At the end of Act II, Martin cries out, “God Help us! God help us!” and then ‘buries his face in his hands’ as indicated by stage directions (270). I hadn’t initially noted that Martin’s ability to express emotions, and not just have to tough it out as the expected strong male hero, could make this play a play that challenges expectations of men.

    Like

  12. Learning the historical and political context behind art only enhances our understanding of its content. Women are brought to the forefront of melodrama for a variety of reasons – as Newey states, there are two explosive points of development for female characters, the working class heroines or the heroine-villain. However, Peter Brooks had previously mentioned how dependent the genre often is on portraying virtue and innocence at the center of its story. As Newey stated, “Melodrama placed the feeling individual at the centre of the drama to make powerful statements about human subjectivity and what it is to be human – and woman and femininity were central to that melodramatic representation.” (Williams, 149)

    While these representations of women could be very stereotypical, especially by today’s standards, the theater provided women with the agency to have their own income, create their own artwork, and become their own artists. The government did maintain heavy censorship of the theater during this time, however, which did not allow for much revolutionary thought to occur on stage. This censorship is what maintains the status quo within the theater and kept tight constraints of the possibilities of these female characters. As Newey states, this is why these plays often restored “class and gender hierarchy through the happy endings of marriage – or the retributive deaths of transgressive female protagonists.”

    Like

  13. Tanisah Delvaille

    According to William’s, class is “a system based on wealth, property, and occupation” (Williams, 164). The reason working-class people could relate to these plays and enjoy them was because that these melodramas focused on the lives of everyday working-class people not just the elite. If they focused solely on the lives of the elite then working-class people wouldn’t want to go and see these melodramas since they would feel out of place.

    Melodrama didn’t always attack the system because the theaters weren’t a place to stir class hostility since their main purpose was to entertain and make money, so they would blame the problems the society faced on that of bad individuals. That way they wouldn’t get in trouble with the government and it would make people think about themselves being the problem rather than putting their focus on the government.

    “The cultural work of melodrama was to create utopian moments in which consensus could be achieved” (Williams, 169). This can be seen by how these melodramas based around the working-class dealt with the issues of poverty by giving such dramas a happy ending. This way the people can have hope in their lives by thinking that they can make their lives better for themselves, even though making these plays have a happy ending all the time isn’t necessarily a good thing because it can lead to false hope.

    Depending on where you went to see these plays determined how the ending will play out since if you went to the East or West end of London then each play about class had a different ending. One ending could be happy with the person being able to turn their life around, or it could be a sad ending where nothing changes for the character and their life doesn’t improve.
    Audiences could see recognize with the likes of Les Miserables “how nineteenth-century theater can still say something about poverty and the injuries of class division” (Williams, 165).

    Like

  14. Danielle Butler

    Danielle Butler

    “The Rent-Day” by Douglas William Jerrold is a wonderful melodrama filled with action from beginning to end. Each character added something special to the play. The coldness of Crumbs character was heartbreaking. I was surprised in the end when it was revealed Crumb once had a heart that was broken by his wife who was taken by Grantley’s father. Crumbs pain caused him to want others around him to suffer. The Haywood family went through a lot. Not being able to feed your family, in danger of losing the family farm was a lot to go through. It was very unexpected when the chair broke and the moneybags and gold fell out with the note. Mr. Haywood was about to lose all hope and move to London with his kids leaving his wife behind because he thought she was unfaithful. I did not predict a happy ending but to my surprise all secrets were revealed and all conflicts were resolved resulting in a great ending.
    Katherine Newey discusses gender and the role of women. She explains how “The centering on women’s actions and feelings is significant”(Newey). Putting women in the center of the action allowing them to become a more “dominant physical presence (Newey)”. Rachel Heywood’s is a good example of a female character that endured suffering and played a major role in the play. Her character displayed loyalty to her husband and love for her children. A good display of gender and femininity in the 1800’s.

    Like

  15. Jennifer Hua

    In this week’s discussion, I will be talking about the writing from Rohan Mcwilliam. He writes about the connection between social class and Melodrama, and the points he brings up in the writing are interesting. Particularly, the point he makes about Melodrama and the theatre itself was a “bad vehicle” to represent radical points of views because of the censorship and the theatres being policed by Lord Chamberlain. (Pg. 166, Mcwilliam). I think this is interesting because theatre should be a career, or at least a hobby with self representation. Theatre should provide a way for individuals to express themselves in different ways. However, many individuals lose the ability to express themselves because their beliefs are different from the government. It does not seem fair but that is how it was ran back then.
    Another point that was important to highlight was the point Mcwilliam makes about how aware the characters are of their social class on stage, “ For that reason, economic divisions between classes were acknowledged on stage, though they were often described as the difference between ‘the rich’ and ‘the poor’…” (Pg. 168, Mcwilliam). It shows that individual are aware that the only difference between their classes is just the amount of money they have, and nothing else. Sometimes, class difference can be interpreted as being more or less educated or more or less good looking, but the class difference between majority of the characters is just money based. In the play, The Rent Day, by Douglas Willam Jerrold, the two characters, Polly Briggs, and Bullfrog, go back and forth speaking about how beautiful Polly is, but it is noticeable that she is in the lower class, or in “the poor” class. “Polly: Well, I’m very poor. Mr. Bullfrog. Bullfrog: You are: it’s only your fault. Polly: Fault! Poverty’s no crime. Bullfrog: Isn’t it? Well, it’s so like, I don’t know the difference. It’s a pity poor girls have pretty faces; they lead us prudent capitalists into many false reckonings. Oh, Polly! If I should love you!” (Pg. 264, Jerrold). Bullfrog makes jabs at Polly for being the the lower class and even states that poor women are pretty which is why many rich men marry lower class women, allowing the women to change their classes. The characters are aware of their positions with class and although Mcwilliam believes that Melodrama is a bad way of displaying radical thinking, this play adds in political views that fit into the beliefs of the current government.

    Like

  16. In Newey’s “Melodrama and Gender” Newey, discusses important features of women and their role in stage melodrama. The fact that women were captured in an atypical fashion was controversial. It was also done in the “illegitimate” theatres of London which added to the cutting edge factor of melodrama and how it reflected a changing society with new ideas. For a genre considered to be “pandering to the lowest audience desire for sensation, novelty, and cheap thrills.” these ideas of transgressive women portrayed to the masses have had staying power. To this day common tropes and storylines that were originally presented in melodramas of the 1800s are the basis of film, stage, and books. However, it was interesting to read about that although melodrama had some progressive elements attached to itself, some melodrama still adhered to the conventions of the genre that would reinforce social orders and hierarchy or punishing female progressive characters. It’s quite limiting to see a genre push boundaries yet adhere to them. However, the plays and playwright cannot fully be at fault. There was still heavy censorship throughout the century and socially the society and government were not ready to see this progressiveness. Plays such as “Martha Willis the Servant Maid” not only displayed a young female heroine dealing with the world and what’s expected of her but it also catered to working-class folk who did the same jobs Martha Willis did. It tackled relatability (which female characters have to express more than male characters at times) but working-class issues. Melodrama reflected the parts of society that some wanted to ignore but couldn’t be ignored.

    Like

  17. cherikaferguson

    In our reading, “Melodrama and Gender” by Katherine Newey. She gave few points on gender and how Melodrama brought more attention to gender roles. “Melodrama gives female characters agency and voice, and a dominant physical presence on the stage through the century” (p150) Throughout the century Melodrama showed it’s different concepts on what Melodrama represents, and how gender brings the popular audiences in. In Douglas Williams Jerrold, “ The Rent-Day” is a deep play that touches on social, racial and economic issues. The female characters have strong stage presents which makes a good impression on the audience, drawing them closer into the dramatic performance. The character Rachel Heywood uses her strong emotions to bring the current situation to the forefront. On page 266 in “The Rent Day” Rach is showing her emotions when she’s concern about Martin and her family. The real intensity and expressions make up a great Melodrama price. The hardships in the play were real and it showed Martin and Rachel domestic life and the realistic drama behind it. “Melodrama places the feeling individual at the centre of the drama to make powerful statements about human subjectivity and what it is to be human” (p149, Newey) “The Rent Day” left a message behind, indicating that we all should be treated with respect.

    Like

  18. 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.

    Like

  19. Taiwo Oladele

    Even though Melodrama gives females agency and voice, Newey expresses that this genre cannot be read as triumphantly feminist. The reason being that political expression operated in two senses, protest and conformity. Even though Melodrama did present a critique for gender roles, its effect was contained because censorship was heavy during this time. Censorship is what put into play this class and gender hierarchy that is displayed through the “happy ending of a marriage”. The insight that Newey presents proves evident in The Rent Day. Seeing as how in the dynamic of the main characters, Rachel is made inferior to Martin because she is mistaken for someone with low moral character. This creates an opportunity for her to save the day but at the expense of her name being slandered and her character doubted and only at the mercy of her husband. Even though they were reconciled, can it really be considered a happy marriage? If there was no trust between them because the person in question was a female. I think this is what Newey is alluding to when she speaks about gender hierarchy.

    Like

  20. Anushua Arif

    “Melodrama and Gender” by Katherine Newey takes the readers through the evolution of women in the genre of domestic melodrama. Right at the beginning, Newey introduces the new type of character, who can be portrayed as the “improper feminine” – being transgressive, and being an “active,feeling,suffering” woman. (Newey, 170)
    Though, domestic melodrama gave rise to a feminist perspective, condoning the rise of the “improper feminine”, Newey claims that, “we cannot simply recover melodrama as a triumphantly feminist genre.” (Newey, 170)
    Looking into “The Rent Day” by William Jerrold, we can see the portrayal of a typical domestic melodrama, which has a lead and strong female protagonist, Rachel. Her bravery is especially evident as she shows no fear in revealing Hyssop’s plan to rob Crumb’s estate, to Mr. Crumb himself, putting herself in danger. As Newey specifically says, “In melodrama, heroes are brave, courageous, and honest..” (Newey,153) which ties together with Rachel’s act of bravery, looking out for the greater good.
    Though Rachel is depicted as the ideal wife and mother in the beginning of the play, the strength she shows as an individual, by having strong opinions, and by reacting the way she does when she is accused, she shows courage and can no longer be treated as just the obedient wife who does just as much she is told, but has developed a character regardless of the expectations expected of her.

    Like

  21. Sanam Sheikh

    Sanam Sheikh
    English 49013
    Blog Entry #2

    In the beginning of the chapter, “Melodrama and Gender,” by Katherine Newey, she focuses on the performances of gender in melodrama as well as the roles of women in producing melodramatic texts. She believes women suffered a great deal and melodrama “gives female characters agency and voice,” (Newey p. 150). Domestic Melodrama was a period that took place from the late 1820s to mid-1840s and Newey defines this by giving an example of Douglas Jerrold’s domestic drama, “Marth Willis the Servant Maid.” Newey says, “In these melodramas, heroines play the role of carrier of hegemonic patriarchal values,” (Newey p. 151). Masculinity is also discussed in this chapter mainly saying when it comes to melodrama heroes are brave and courageous. She also dives into the subject regarding women writing melodrama.
    I started to ask myself, what could be an example of domestic melodrama? “The Rent Day,” by William Jerrold is exactly what Newey was talking about regarding domestic melodrama. It contains three acts with the stage business, cast of characters, costumes and relative positions. I find it interesting how there were different classifications of melodramas. This kind of reminds of certain writers in eighteenth century literature such as Jane Austen in terms of repression and in one book in particular, “Mansfield Park,” talks a little bit about women in theater, not necessarily melodrama; however, in “Melodrama and Gender,” by Newey reminds a little bit of “Mansfield Park.”

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s