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The Modern  Period (Up to 1960)

The Modern  Period (Up to 1960) consists mainly of Flat and round characters , Symbolist movement, Imagism or, Imagist movement or, Imagists,Ulysses, One-act play, Drama of ideas, Problem play, Stream of Consciousness or, Interior monologue,  The theatre of absurd Or, The drama of absurd Or, Absurd drama important short notes  etc. Here, these things are discussed in small areas. 
important short notes of modern period

Flat and round characters 

In Aspects of the Novel, E.M. Forster introduces flat and round characters. In fiction, flat character is a two-dimensional character lacking the depth or complexity of a real person. It is built around a single dominant trait or quality and represents a type. If the author chooses to focus a characterization on a single dominant trait, the result is a flat or thin character. It is opposite of a round character.Round character is a character in fiction portrayed in detail as a complex and multifaceted personality. It is complex in temperament and motivation. It is represented with subtle particularity. In fact, round character is a character that is fully developed as a complex and three dimensional person. Generally, major characters in fiction are presented as fully rounded personalities. It is the opposite of a flat character.

Symbolist Movement 

Symbolist movement is a movement in French poetry and art in the late 19th century. It appears to be a revolution against excessive romanticism. It is revived as a revolution against the so-called naturalism at the beginning of the 19th century. This literary movement originated in France in the last half of the same century. It strongly influenced the Irish and British writing around the turn of the century. It was able to make a potent appeal to American poets in the 20th century. The poets in the mid 1880 in England associated with the magazine, Le Decadent called themselves "Symbolists".Charles Baudelaire, Stephane Mallarme, Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlainc, and others write richly suggestive and musical free verse. They exploit the evocative power of private symbols. Mallarme is reported to have proclaimed, "To name is to destroy, to suggest is to create." Actually, the poets of France, England and America use symbols in their works profoundly. In England, George Moore, Symons and W.B. Yeats admire the symbolists. The symbolist movement has influenced such modern poets as T.S. Eliot, Paul Valery and Dylan Thomas. All the symbolists begin to reveal their thoughts indirectly. They expose the mystery of universe in relation to man and society. They do not care for whether the readers can understand or not. The more a meaning of a literary work is obscure, the more it becomes a pure symbolic poem.

Imagism Or, Imagist Movement Or, Imagists

Imagism is a poetic convention which flourished in England and America between the years 1912. It is planned and exemplified by a group of English and American writers in London. It is partly under the influence of the poetic theory of  T.E. Hulme as a revolt against what Ezra Pound said about poetry at the turn of the century. Pound is the first leader of the imagist movement. He has been succeeded by Amy Lowell. He sometimes refers to the movement as "Amygism" Hilda Doolittle, D.H. Lawrence, William Carlos Williams, John Gould Fletcher and Richard Aldington are other leading participants in the movement. Amy Lowell mentions the term "Imagist Poets" for the first time in her preface to the first of three anthologies.The typical imagist poem is written in free verse. It undertakes to render as precisely and tersely as possible. Some other special qualities are also employed in this type of poem. Imagism is too restrictive to endure long as a concerted movement. But it serves to inaugurate a distinctive feature of modernist poetry. W.B. Yeats, T.S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens manifest some influence by the imagist experiments with the representation of precise and clear images. Such images are juxtaposed without specifying their interrelations.


Ulysses written by James Joyce in 1922 is an immortal novel in English literature. It is the most controversial piece of literature in the 20th century. It encircles events during a single calendar day in Dublin 16 June 1904. Its main characters are Leopold Bloom, Molly and Stephen Dedalus. We know that Bloom is a Jewish advertisement canvasser and Molly is his unfaithful wife, a concert singer. Dedalus is a young poet.The principal action of Ulysses follows Bloom and Stephen. Because they wander separately around Dublin until they eventually meet. Each episode of the novel loosely corresponds with an episode in Homer's Odyssey. In this novel, Bloom represents Odysseus while Molly is Penelope and Stephen is Telemachus. Their earthly and occasionally sordid lives are therefore ironically framed within an epic dimension. At the end of the novel, Bloom and Stephen return to their starting point. They do not find any answer to the bewildering sense of futility, frustration and loneliness within them. The style of the novel is highly allusive parodying numerous literary forms. The stream of consciousness technique captures some moments of Bloom's language is also fragmented and disordered. In this novel, Joyce first describes objectively an action of his hero, Leopold Bloom. Then he abruptly presents his character's inner feelings and thoughts which are centred pn his wife's lover, Blazes Boylan. To give the sense of the flux of experience, he reduces his sentences to fragments freed of linguistic logic. The pervasive technique used ib Ulysses is the interior monologue.

One-act Play

It is a kind of play consisting of one act. It presents a simple incident involving two or three characters and runs for fifteen to forty minutes. It is comparable to a short story in its dependence on unity of effect. The one-act play came into its own in the 19th century. It has become popular with playwrights working in the non-commercial and experimental theatre. Before 1890, one-act plays were used chiefly in vaudeville programs. In other words, they were employed mainly as curtain-reisers for the important plays of the evening. In fact, attention to the one-act play increased with the Little Theatre Movement. Anton Chekhov's The Proposal, August Strindberg's The Stronger, J.M. Synge's Riders to the Sea atc are the notable examples of the one-act plays. Besides, Eugene O'Neill, Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco and Harold Pinter have also written many one-act plays. A group of two or three one-act plays are often produced in a single theatrical presentation.

Drama of ideas

The drama of ideas is a modern development. It is a new kind of play in the Modern Age. The dramatic characters give expression to the thoughts and feelings of the dramatist. Conflict is the soul of the drama of ideas. In a drama of ideas, there is conflict of ideas which is made clear to us through dialogues and discussion. The structure and characterization are of little importance in it. In this respect, it is only discussion that counts. There is practically no action in such a drama. The characters talk with each other. They preach to the audience the ideas of the dramatist. Conversation is equivalent of action here. A drama of ideas depends for its success on the perfection of the discussion or dialogue.Ideas are propagated in the Shavian plays. The most important element in a Shavian drama is its discussion of some notable social problem. In the Modern Age, many of the dramas of George Bernard Shaw and Galsworthy are known as dramas of ideas. Arms and the Man by Shaw is a play of ideas. In this drama, action is reduced to the minimum. It is made up of a number of scenes in which the characters are engaged in discussions. These discussions point out the main ideas which Shaw wants to express in this drama. After going through Arms and The Man, we find that it deals with two main ideas--war and love.

Problem Play

Problem play is a type of play or drama which is popularized by the Norwegian playwright, Hendrik Ibsen. In problem plays, the situation faced by the protagonist is put forward by the author as a representative instance of a contemporary social problem. The dramatist often manages to propose a solution to the problem which adds with prevailing opinion. He does it by the use of a character who speaks for the author, or by the evolution of the plot, or both. Various issues are used in problem plays. In Ibsen's Doll's House, one issue is employed but in G.B. Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession used another.A subtype of the modern play is the discussion play. In this play,  the social issue is not incorporated into a plot but expounded in the give and take of a sustained debate among the characters. Shaw's Man and Superman and some other plays of Ibsen belong to this type. We know that the term problem plays is sometimes applied to a group of Shakespeare's plays. Troilus and Cressida, Measure for Measure and All's Well That Ends Well are regarded as problem plays. They are also called 'bitter comedies'.

Stream of Consciousness or, Interior Monologue 

Stream of consciousness is a method and a subject-matter of narrative fiction that attempts to represent the inner workings of a character's mind at all of awareness. It is the most widely adopted technique that the great successful modern authors followed in their literary works. It is a pattern of freely moving thoughts and reverie. In fact, it is a pattern of free association in which current observation and day-,dream, thoughts and feeling mingle. The phrase, "Stream of Consciousness" is coined by William James in his Principles of Psychology. Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and William Faulkner are the acknowledged masters of this method.Interior monologue is a presentation to the reader of the flow of a character's inner emotional experience at a particular moment. Most critics use "Stream of Consciousness" as an inclusive term to denote a general method and subject-matter. They reserve the term "Interior Monologue" to describe a specific technique by which a stream of consciousness is presented. A few critics use the terms as synonyms

The theatre of absurd or, The drama of absurd or, Absurd drama

The theatre of absurd is the term applied to a number of works in drama and prose fiction. This kind of works reflects the attitude that the universe is without purpose and that human life is futile and meaningless. It is a kind of drama which grows out of the philosophy of existentialism and 1660 s.The drama of absurd is a type of drama without traditional plot, character, dialogue and setting. In it almost nothing happens. Some characteristics of a drama of absurd can be mentioned in the respect. These are as follows:

1.There are no exist and entrances.

2.There is no external conflict as we find in the plays of Shakespeare.

3.It has no Aristotelian beginning, middle and end.

Actually, absurdist dramas present character struggling to find order and purpose in irrational and incomprehensible situations. Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Jean Genet, Harold Pinter, Fernando Arrabal, Edward Albee and Arthur Kopit have exercised to write this kind of drama. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett can be regarded as a model of the drama of absurd. It is different from prose natural drama, dream play and poetic drama. It has no traditional division into scenes. It also possesses other qualities of an absurd drama.


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