16 thoughts on “Class Blog Posts on Hadley and Williams

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

  2. Xena Leycea Bruno

    Characters are the embodiment of virtue; however, before East Lynne virtuous characters were ONLY good and villainous character were ONLY bad. Here we see that Isabelle, an adulteress, is still a stand in for virtue regardless of her wrong doing. According to Hadley, admitting to her adultery is an act of virtue. Hadley explains that, “the self-interest that formerly motivated her is ultimately recast as the yearning for a familial connection within the serene boundaries of society,” (Hadley, 155). By admitting fault, Isabelle condemns her actions indicating that her role as wife and mother were her virtuous identities. Therefore, virtue is restored again because it is acknowledged. However, even in a long novel we can see that melodrama quickly ties things together to get out of these spectacle stories. It is confusing that Isabelle is both the villain and the only character that can reestablish virtue, because based on previous character types the villain is simply the villain. For example, in Jerrold’s The Rent Day, Crumbs had a reason, albeit a crazy one, for his actions; however, the reader still did not have sympathy for him because in the end he was still the villain.


  3. Rana A alsayegh

    According to Carolyn Williams, realist novels usually make use of melodramatic characters, plots, and techniques in order to assert their realism. Also, the realist novel positions itself relative to prior genres and modes, but claiming to be more realistic than they were. It aims is to show characters in relation to social real life.
    In Probability and improbability, when the novel claims to events that actually happened this gives a way to probability, but when the novel no longer claims to tell a story that really happened, it gives an imitation of what could realistically have happened. What might be considered probable was changing in which a happy ending of melodrama has often seemed improbable and impossible to imagine.
    Also, There are 7 types of English melodrama; hero, heroine, villain, the old man and woman, and the comic man and woman, and also the villain accomplice. The character may still be seen as a type, but should be seen as a much more particularized type. Melodramatic types express a general realism beyond the fiction of particular characters.
    Melodrama depends on various forms of recognition, using conventions that lend a sense of the real to the experience of its spectators. Realism of melodrama depends on pictorialization that represent the crucial situations of the plot in visual terms. Also, the realist fiction has generally been thought to have the advantage when it comes to representing interiority.
    East Lynne is an English sensational novel that fails to provide a characteristically melodramatic happy ending which is “one mark of its realism” as mentioned by Carolyn Williams (211). According to Williams, realist novel aim to show characters in relation to social collectives. Similarly, East Lynne captures events that were happening in real life like; degenerate aristocracy which is seen when Lady Isabel, out of jealousy, abandons her husband, children, and reputation to run away with the villain, Captain Levison (283-284). Also, Williams mentions that realist novels frequently make use of melodramatic characters, plots, and techniques, to assert their realism. Wood, is making the same thing by using a whole host of characters like Mrs. Vane a sneering villain, Isabel a heroine, and many more characters. Ellen wood does a fantastic job of showing the reader the unbearable guilt that Isabel feels especially in Chapter 30, when she knew that Mr. Carlyle never cheated on her, and as William asserts, “Psychological interiority is projected visually,” Isabel’s guilt is visually projected and “realized” outside herself.


  4. Argenis Santana

    In Carolyn Williams essay Melodrama and the Realist Novel focuses on the relationship between melodrama and the realist novel. In the section of the essay titled Type and Individual, Williams explains and provides examples as to how the characters in melodramas are typified. Williams brings up the idea of Michael Booth about how there are seven types of characters seen in Melodrama. Williams states “Michael Booth discusses seven stock types in English melodrama: the hero, the heroine, the villain, the old man and woman, and the comic man and woman” (Williams 213).
    Booth’s idea about characters is accurately represented in Mrs. Henry Wood’s East Lynne. The hero is Mr. Carlyle, Lady Isabel represents the heroine, the role of the villain is represented with different characters such as Thorn, Emma, etc. I focused on Williams point about the heroine. She states “the heroine of any given play might represent ‘the erring daughter’ or ‘the helpless wife’ the character may still be seen as a type, the suffering woman under duress within very specific circumstances” (Williams 214). This idea made me immediately think back to Isabel because she fits exactly the description Williams refers to in her essay.
    Another point that I found interesting in the essay is when Williams mentions how the connection between melodrama and fiction is formed with the type and individual. Williams states “While the characters of melodrama are typified, the main characters of realistic fiction are individualized. But, crucially, individualized realist characters are always grounded in the type” (Williams 215). In reading this paragraph I was able to understand the connection between the two.


  5. Alexandra Turner

    Carolyn Williams’ article, “Melodrama and the Realist Novel,” explores the relationship between melodrama upon the stage and the realist novel. She argues that there are several connections between the realist novel and traditional melodrama, such as the development of characters based on reality, characterization as a response to social development, as well as melodrama’s focus on members of the lower classes. One particular point she argues is the relation between realist novel’s character development and melodrama’s usage of stock characters. She writes, “…while the characters of melodrama are typified, the main characters of realist fiction are individualized. But, crucially, individualized realist characters are always grounded in the type-whether the organizing principal of the type is constructed in any given case, as social class, gender, race, nation, ethnicity, or indeed any other generalized social category” (Williams, 215). This is particularly interesting as it demonstrates how realist authors replicate melodramatic themes within their characters but mask their adherence to stock characters with “individualized” traits. This can be seen within the cast of characters of Ellen Wood’s realist novel, East Lynne. For example, Isabel, the main heroine, at first glance, appears individualized because she steps outside the bounds of the traditional, virtuous melodramatic heroine when she cheats on her husband and even goes so far as to leave him for another man (leading to an eventual scandalous divorce). However, it can be seen that she very much adheres to the “suffering woman under duress” melodramatic type (Williams, 213). For example, for every action that Isabel makes, she is placed within a sympathetic position to the reader. From her introduction to the reader as a beautiful woman with a “sad, sorrowful look” to her abandonment by her lover Francis Levision, she is made into a pitiful, suffering and virtuous woman for the reader despite of her controversial actions (Wood, 11). Therefore, like Williams asserts, Woods while trying to individualize her characters, in fact instinctively adheres to the systematic character tropes and types that are developed through melodrama.


  6. Oliver

    While Carolyn Williams’ essay “Melodrama and the Realist Novel” addresses and compares its two titular subjects, it speaks to a larger modern understanding (and mis-understanding) of melodrama. To a great extent, the term “melodrama” has grown to become synonymous with “over-the-top” and soap-opera-like drama. This association began in the 19th century with the rise of the “realism” movement in novels. “The realist novel positions itself relative to prior genres and modes, claiming to be more realistic than they were, internalizing or parodying them, including them ironically within its more comprehensive form” (Williams 210). This “turn away from melodrama” resulted in the misapprehension that melodrama was unrealistic (209). However, this notion is unfounded, as melodrama is no more unrealistic than any imagined presentation of any sort of medium or art. Williams points out that firstly, realism “is always relative.” Secondly, she adds, melodrama has positioned “itself in relation to forms of representation that had come before.” This included some of the allegorical tales of the centuries prior to the 19th. I would argue that melodramas can be distinctly realistic in the ways they evoke emotion. They just use somewhat different tools and methods to these ends. While the character “types” common to melodrama can be stock/unrealistic in a vacuum, “melodrama represents these types in a systematic relation to one another…” each with their own function within the ensemble (214). In a way, each type can be seen as a color in a pallet or musician in an orchestra. Familiarity of types and tropes is a feature of the genre; “Melodrama depends on various forms of recognition, using conventions that lend a sense of the real to the experience of its spectators” (215). Ellen Wood’s novel East Lynn is a very successful example of a sensational melodrama evoking realistic emotion and examining issues of gender and class. In the light of Williams’ evaluation, a melodramatic aside can be seen as a well-placed brushstroke–“I heartily hope she’ll soon find somebody to her liking and forget me,” was [Mr. Carlyle’s] concluding thought. “As to living and dying Barbara Hare, that’s all moonshine, and sentimental rubbish that girls like to—” (Wood Ch. 17). Finally, character types in melodrama can be a “much more particularized type[s]” (Williams 213) where they are far more individual than just two-dimensional caricatures. In fact, there are many times when characters are given a near full complexity of depth: “she [Isabel] missed his kiss of greeting. Well, would she have had him give it her in public? No; but she was in the mood to notice the omission” (Wood Ch. 17). Here we have subtlety—perhaps made more realistic-seeming by juxtaposing such observations against more unrealistic asides like the aforementioned concluding thought of Mr. Carlyle.


  7. East Lynne maintains a comforting level of virtue and restoration of order.
    The characters are one dimensional for the most part except for Isabelle who through the act of adultery is villainized. Isabelle is punished for it not only when she realizes that her has no intention to marry her, she is punished yet again in the train accident – which is itself melodramatic: using the train that was still a source of much anxiety at the time, the train is the grand spectacle. Both of her punishments are the ‘restoration of order’ but order is not truly restored until she is back at the house and forced to look on as Carlyle carries on with a new wife and her children. I got the impression that through all of this she was being purified and cleansed of her adulterous sin. There is some sort of redemption or salvation available to her through Carlyle’s forgiveness. I think the novel plays with the restoration of order through redemption as opposed to punishment. Though there is punishment, order is REALLY restored – Isabelle is truly cleansed-through forgiveness.

    Williams says that are “…. seven stock types in English melodrama: the hero, the heroine, the villain, the old man and woman, and the comic man and woman” the stock characters are one dimensional and they have been thus far but in East Lynne we start to see a little more complexity. Through Isabelle we see the ways in which people can be both villainous and virtuous , the reader is encouraged to empathize with her because there is more to her than her adultery, there is the shame and sadness that comes after she has been ‘punished’ several times for it. It’s realistic.


  8. Fariha Wadud

    Carolyn William’s chapter titled, “Melodrama and the Realist Novel” provides great insight into the similarities between melodramas and realistic novels. One of the important similarities between these two genres that Williams points out is that characters can only be understood as they “are embedded within specific social conditions and groups” (Williams 215). In other words, melodramas and realistic novels both show their characters in relation to the social whole. One striking example of this is found in Chapter Five of East Lynne, when Lady Isabel visits West Lynne for the first time. The reader becomes acquainted with Lady Isabel’s innocent nature through the contrast between her and the rest of West Lynne. While all of the ladies in West Lynne try to compete with Lady Isabel by outdressing her for church, much to the embarrassment of Barbara, Lady Isabel finally enters the church dressed exceptionally simply; “The color flushed into Barbara’s face, and she stared at Miss Corny… “She is very lovely…and her dress is definitely that of a lady. I wish I had not this streaming pink feather”’ (Wood 56). This scene aids in Lady Isabel’s characterization, as it compares the way she is dressed with the rest of the West Lynne community. Based on the contrast between the former and the latter, the reader can note the former’s innocence and virtue. While everyone else is thinking about competing with her, Lady Isabel remains true to her own simple nature by choosing a plain dress rather than worry about the impression she will make on West Lynne.

    Another example in which a character’s traits are revealed “in relation to the social whole” is at the end of the church service, when the earl and Isabel are getting on their carriage. Mr. Carlyle reaches out to shake the earl’s hand and is described as “worthy of being received as an equal” (Wood 56). Similar to the first example, the reader is able to determine the kind of man that Mr. Carlyle is based on his interaction with the earl. While Lady Isabel’s innocence is portrayed through Barbara’s embarrassment, Mr. Carlyle’s respectability is depicted through the way he is received by a man of high status. Because he has the means to purchase East Lynne, Mr. Carlyle is deemed a figure worthy of respect in his community. In both of these examples, Williams is proven correct: characters are identified based on how they interact within their society.


  9. In ‘Melodrama and the Realist Novel’, Carolyn Williams notes the similarities between melodrama and realist novels, as well as argues that melodramas were in many ways realistic, and should be taken seriously as such. William demonstrates that melodrama and realist novels both tried to reject genres that preceded them by saying, “…the realist novel positions itself relative to prior genres and modes, claiming to be more realistic than they were, internalizing or parodying them, including them ironically within its more comprehensive form” (210) and by specifying that melodrama did this as well. The desire to step away from past genres and modes strikes me as relevant to Ellen Wood in how she utilizes her narrator in East Lynne. The narrator often ‘breaks the fourth wall’ to tell the reader how the plot will be different than they are expecting, as well as being sure to set this story apart from other genres that the author/narrator is deeming unrealistic. In Chapter X, the narrator says, “It has been the custom in romance to present young ladies….as being entirely oblivious of matter-of-fact cares and necessities, supremely indifferent to future prospects of poverty…but be assured, this apathy never existed in real life” (Wood). As well as setting the novel apart from romances, the narrator sets the novel apart from ‘novels got in the library’ that depict glorified nobility (Wood Chapter XII). East Lynne definitely seems to be setting itself apart from other genres in a way similar to melodrama.
    Williams also argues that the way melodrama considers middle and lower class experiences makes melodramatic plays much more realistic than people give them credit for, and hold similarities in that theme to the realist novel as “ [b]oth are devoted to representing the ordinary and the everyday; both aim to show characters in relation to social collectives or to a social whole” and have “ethical imperatives” (209).
    I find it very interesting the way Williams makes a case for the seemingly unrealistic happy endings of melodramas to actually be realistic by saying the plays answer “What nearly unbelievable lengths must a plot go in order to imagine a happy ending?” (Williams 211) William shows that while the resolution itself might not seem realistic, it reveals the realism of the middle of the plot.
    Williams also points out that while melodrama creates characters who are types and realism has the desire to be about the individual, realist novel characters are actually still based in a type, and a type that stands in relation to a larger social context.
    Williams breaks down some of the more spectacular elements of melodrama that are exclusive to the stage and shows how they have realist elements. Melodramatic music invokes a sense of ‘being there’ and has a quality of ‘knowledge won by way of emotion’ (217). Williams uses an example from The Bells to show how the persistent sound of the bells forces us to experience and ‘participate’ in Mathias’s guilt. This immersive experience actually can give a scene a sense of reality that a novel doesn’t have an opportunity to utilize as it lacks audible music.
    I also found the example of how vision scenes, using images in the foreground and background of the stage, could be used to show internal psychology very interesting. It really showed that just because melodramatic plays had to rely on external elements doesn’t mean they didn’t also have a focus on some sort of interiority. In general, I thought the focus on what visuals and audio can do for a sense of realism not usually noted in melodrama was very enlightening.
    Initially reading East Lynne by Ellen Wood, I noted many aspects of the novel that seemed melodramatic, such as the ‘physiognomic legibility’ of a character like Francis Levison or Lady Isabel, the description of specific notable scenes that I could envision as being tableaux, and the moralistic elements (Williams 216). This reading made me consider that that the elements that seem melodramatic in the novel don’t necessarily make it less realist.


  10. Tanisah Delvaille

    According to Williams in the chapter Melodrama and the Realist Novel, both genres practice realism in different ways. When we talking about the realist novel Williams, points out that the realist novels usually make use of melodramatic characters, plots, and techniques, and by doing this they are signaling a turn away from melodrama which was their way of asserting their idea of realism.

    In the section Type and Individual, Williams notes that characters of melodrmas are typified and that main characters of realist fiction are individualized. When it comes to individualized realist characters they are always grounded in the type and according to Michael Booth, there are seven types of characters in English melodrama drama their roles being, hero, heroine, villain, the old man and woman, and the comic man and woman.

    According to Williams, realism is always relative and takes into account genre differences, sociological thinking, domestic focus, affective or sympathetic spectatorship, and pictorial representation or spectacle. We may believe that spectacle and sensation are the opposite of realism, but in fact they primary expressions of it. This ways the audience can see the use of the two movements working together to show the realism of each character.


  11. Danielle Butler

    Danielle Butler

    Melodrama and the Realist Novel by Carolyn Williams discusses how realism can be portrayed in many different ways. Realism is meant to display things the way they really are without any exaggerations of the truth. In the nineteen-century authors did not possess the freedom that they have now to write. Melodramas were more accepted. Some argue that melodramas are not a form of realism, which is not true. William discusses that melodramas are “the principle mode for uncovering, demonstration and making operative the essential moral universe (Williams pg.210).” The happy endings that most melodramas have make the story hard to believe for some people because in real life everything does not have a happy ending. Some melodramas were written to represent real problems in history that did not have happy ending. It aims to shows people other alternatives to handing the situation that will lead to a positive outcome. These endings encouraged people to make changes in the way they handle a situation in real life. Melodramas were used to shed light on typical everyday problems that the average person is exposed to. People find it easy to relate and connect with Melodramas because it recognizes the struggles of the “ordinary, everyday world (Williams pg. 216)”.


  12. Kelsie McGrath

    According to Carolyn Williams in “Melodrama and the Realist Novel”, realism is meant to portray aspects in life they way they actually are without exaggerations. Realism is a technique used to accurately inmate or depict the real world in literary works. William discuss that melodrama and the realist novel develop their realism in close relation to one another. “Both are devoted to representing the ordinary and the everyday; both aim to show characteristic in relation to social collectives or to a social whole” (Williams 209). Realism in melodrama aims to dismiss the “happy endings” and fairy tale aspects of literary works and creates “real” stories, ones that are relatable. William notes that melodramas are the “principle mode for uncovering, demonstration and making operative the essential moral universe” (210) Williams also discusses Michael Booths seven stock typed in english melodrama: the hero, heroine, the villain, the old man and woman and the comic man and woman. These character types allow the plot to represent “historical change” in a compressed form. (Williams 213).

    In Henry Wood’s East Lynne, Booths ideas of these stock types are represented. The hero is depicted as Mr. Carlyle, the heroine is Lady Isabel, the villain is Thorn. East Lynne deals with aspects of “virtue” and is presented through other characters. For example, Lady Isabella is seen as “innocent” in a portrayal of Barbara’s embarrassment while Mr. Carlyle is a respectable character because he is commonly known as a man of high status. Lady Isabel fits the description of a “true heroine” because her interactions with society categorize her as the “suffering woman”or helpless character. She is grouped into this stock type to, like williams stated, provide the work with driving plot and portrait the characters relationships with their society.


  13. What’s fascinating when reading “Melodramatic Tactics” by Elaine Hadley is the underrepresentation that melodrama receives in the realm of criticism and scholarly research. Because melodrama became so common after a meteoric rise to popularity (especially in “illegitimate” theaters), it was seen as the theater for the lower class of society. This theme of melodrama being considered entertainment for the lower class is a narrative that has seemed to surround this genre and our studying of this genre. The blatant classist and elitist tone towards this genre is totally unfair and biased. It’s even crazier when one can clearly see that melodrama (which later was shortened to “drama”) has had such an influence of stage and television. Melodrama’s influence can still be seen to this day although it’s historically not “high art” or of high value. When Thomas John Dibden can coin a term (“Melodrame Mad!”) and predate subliminal advertising, it can be seen as the moment that melodrama has an identity of its own and can potentially have an influence on the stage into the future. Melodrama has proven that just because something is popular and common, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have artistic merit or influence. Something else I found fascinating while reading “Melodramatic Tactics” was the storyline of the plight of the fallen woman had come into play. Historically women were not allowed to act or sing and now their lives and stories were suddenly on stage. Although the plight of the woman in the Victorian-melodramatic era had its sexist limitations, the fact that women were not only on stage telling stories but being complex characters was the precursor to “the leading lady” and women on stage in its entirety.


  14. Reading Carolyn Williams, “Melodrama and the Realist Novel” it showed me more about the idea of “realism”. According to Williams, realism is the “representation of the world along with the clear indication that the representation itself is an artifice or construction…” Williams states that realism should “inform us” rather than giving us an assumption of what can be “transparent”. Realism can be several things. Realism is a mode that depends heavily on the reaction of the writer. Melodrama unravels and demonstrates the essential “moral universe”. Overall, I enjoyed this reading. It helped me to understand Melodrama and how it differs from realism. William’s noted that melodrama provides a “better genre for comparison.”


  15. Anushua Arif

    Carolyn Williams in her essay “Melodrama and the Realist Novel”, draws parallelism between melodrama itself and real life, which she suggests is meant to portray regular/mundane aspects of life the way they really are, without the extra dramatic effect.
    She further speaks about realism, which is a technique used to depict the “real” world in literary works.
    She also argues about Melodrama not being a realistic enough genre by itself, and exemplifies her point by focusing on the relationship between nineteenth century novels and novelistic use of Melodrama.
    In Ellen Wood’s novel “East Lynne” Wood,sticks to the archetypes found in any notable melodrama play, using a whole range of characters like Mrs. Vane as the villain, Isabel, the heroine, Mr.Carlyle the hero, and many more characters who fit the designated roles. And Williams’description of the heroine fits with the portrayal of Isabel the heroine, who starts off as the innocent damsel at first, but then through fault of her own, succumbs into sinful desires, and in the end is devastated due to her own guilt and conscience.


  16. Sanam Sheikh

    Sanam Sheikh
    English 49013
    Blog Entry #5

    For me, I truly enjoy Melodramas that have realism; nonetheless, this is what the “Melodrama and the Realist Novel” are all about. I believe myself and others are more drawn to Melodrama that has realism because it depicts reality and the things in life people experience. “For Dickens, Eliot, and Hardy, for all the writers of sensation fiction, and for most other English novelists as well, melodrama provides the most salient reference point against which to create or test a realist vision,” (Williams, p. 211). When it comes to Melodrama, I really like how there many details broken down to give a better understanding of how Melodrama is to be understood and looked at in different way.
    “East Lynne,” is a play where realism is a theme which people may or may not relate too. Lady Isabel leaves her husband and children due to her assumptions of her husband having an affair. This play and novel are described as an archetypal novel having drama, guilt, betrayal and lies and truth. This play was also a representation of Victorian views on women, me and sexuality. “But it is important to understand that melodrama was understood to some extent to be realistic almost from its beginnings,” (Williams, p. 215). “East Lynne,” was a play common to what many women were experiencing and we women experience this today.


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