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Home » » Main characteristics of 20th Century drama

Drama declined during the Victorian era. But at the beginning of 20th century, it revived with new vigour. The influence of Norwegian Henrik Ibsen became prominent in 20th century drama. Ibsen, Shaw and Glasworthy emerged as prominent figures in the survey of 20th century drama. The main features of 20th century drama are the following. 


Modern dramatist, above everything, was realistic. They dealt with the problems of life in a realistic way. Modern dramatists developed problem play. 

Drama of Ideas: 

Modern drama was essentially drama of ideas. Beneth witty and humorous situation and flippant character they conveyed serious idea. For example, Shaw’s plays are categorised as drama of ideas. 


With all their realistic approach to life, the modern dramatists have shown their sense of romanticism. They have shown world of romance, supernaturalism, side by side the green realities of life. 

Poetic plays: 

Poetic plays also developed in the modern age as a reaction to realism and naturalism. For example, Eliot wrote poetic plays, Synge, Yeats have written poetic plays. Poetry has become the natural and complete medium for drama. 

Historical and Biographical play: 

Many historical and biographical plays were written in modern literature. For example, Shaw wrote “Caeser and Cleopatra”, “Saint John”. There were some plays old character in Shakespeare’s play were popularised. The Irish Movement ; Irish dramatic movement has become the most remarkable influence on modern English. Irish dramatists brought about Celtic revival in literature which greatly influenced modern English drama. irish dramatists like Yeats, Synge, Shaw have contributed meaningfully to the risk of modern English drama. 


Expression is another important feature of modern drama. O’Neill wrote expressionistic drama m the modem age. In expressionistic drama, the inner psychological feeling of characters is focuses. It is concerned not with society but with individual. And individual becomes representatives of class. 

Impressionism was another important feature of modern drama. Impressionism helped the dramatists t present reality as it is. It helps to make explicit statement about the objective characteristic of things. 

Comedy of Manners: 

Comedy of Manners was also revived in modern drama. For example, Somerset Maugham, Osker Wild revived the comedy of manners. 

Technique and stage direction: 

In regard technique and stage direction, there were new innovations in modern drama, modern dramatists tried to follow dramatic unities. They have avoided soliloquy asides rather use short dialogue. 


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