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Melodrama is a sensational, exciting and emotional drama, usually with a happy ending. Originally it is a dramatic composition in which music was used, or an opera in the broad sense, and during the Italian Renaissance there was no distinction between opera and melodrama. It was a drama then with incidental music, or an operetta with more or less spoken dialogue. In the 18th century Handel used both the terms in classifying his plays separately, thus bringing about a’ demarcation between opera and melodrama. 

During this time plays were written in France, which laid emphasis on music, sensationalism, spectacle and happy ending. In course of drama melodrama depicted the conflict of despicable evil and extraordinary good, as embodied in the hero, who was always a symbol of magnanimous virtue, and the villain, who signified mischief and wickedness in the play. Plays in the 19th century England ranging in subject from the supernatural to domestic life used melodrama abundantly. The Duchess of Malfi is a melodrama. 


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