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The term ‘closet drama’ refers to that type of drama which is meant to be read rather than performed, even though it includes acts, scenes, dialogue and sometimes even stage directions. Many closet dramas have been written in imitation of dramatic works and styles of some earlier literary epoch or period. Closet drama is often written in verse. Well-known examples of closet drama are John Milton’s “Samson Agonistes”, Lord Byron’s “Manfred” and Percy Bysshe Shelley's “The Cenci”. The question whether Seneca’s tragic play “Phaedra” is an example of closet drama remains controversial. A number of critics think that lack of action and long speeches attributed to some characters make his plays unfit to be taken as drama proper. Some other scholars believe that the Senecan drama not merely was never acted but never could be. In this perspective, we should bear in mind that ‘action’ in the realistic sense, is not the mainspring of Seneca’s dramatic technique. It may be described as ‘the illusion of action evoked by words’. The long speeches are relevant to the character of the speaker or his mood at that moment in the drama. Perhaps, Seneca did not have in mind anything like, public performance when he wrote “Phaedra”. So this play may be loosely called a closet drama.


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