Writing about Drama - Themes, Plots, and Characterization

Introduction to Drama

Drama is a genre of storytelling that is all about the art of human conflict and the complexities of human relationships. The themes that are commonly explored in the drama include love, betrayal, power, ambition, and family. The plot of a drama typically revolves around a central conflict or crisis that the characters must face. This crisis can be anything from a personal struggle to a global issue. The plot is driven by the characters’ reactions to this conflict and their attempts to resolve it. Characterization is a key element of drama, and the characters are often complex and multifaceted. They are shaped by their experiences and their relationships with other characters, and their actions and decisions drive the plot forward. In drama, the characters are often flawed and make mistakes, which can lead to tension and conflict. Overall, drama is a powerful and engaging form of storytelling that explores the complexities of the human experience.


Drama is a genre that has been around for centuries and continues to captivate audiences to this day. Drama is all about conflict, tension, and emotion, whether it’s on stage, in a book, or on screen. Some of the most famous examples of drama include Shakespeare’s plays such as Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth. These plays are filled with complex characters, intense emotions, and tragic endings.

Another example of drama is Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, which explores themes of desire, violence, and mental instability. In recent years, television dramas have become increasingly popular, with shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and The Handmaid’s Tale all capturing the attention of audiences around the world.

These shows all feature complex characters, intense conflicts, and emotional storylines that keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Whether it’s on stage, in a book, or on-screen, the drama continues to be a powerful and enduring genre that has stood the test of time.

Themes of Drama

Drama is a genre of literature that deals with serious and sometimes heavy subjects. It is often characterized by the portrayal of emotions and conflicts between characters with different backgrounds, beliefs, and values. Among the many themes explored in drama, love, power, betrayal, and redemption are some of the most common.

Love is a theme that has been at the center of many great plays, from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. In these plays, love takes many forms, from passionate and romantic to familial and platonic. Love can also be a source of conflict, as when two characters are in love with the same person, or when a character’s love is not reciprocated.

Power is another theme that is often explored in drama. This can take many forms, from political power to personal power and control. In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, for example, the theme of power is central to the play’s plot and characters. Macbeth’s desire for power leads him to commit murder and ultimately leads to his own downfall.

Betrayal is a theme that can be found in many drama works. The betrayal can come in many forms from infidelity to disloyalty. One of the most well-known examples of betrayal is in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, where Brutus betrays his friend Caesar for the sake of the Roman Republic.

Redemption is a theme that deals with the possibility of making amends for past mistakes. An example of redemption can be found in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, where Blanche DuBois tries to redeem herself after her past mistakes and transgressions.

In short, drama is a rich and complex genre that explores a wide range of themes. Love, power, betrayal, and redemption are just a few of the many themes that can be found in this genre and they all provide an excellent opportunity for authors and playwrights to explore important human emotions and experiences.

Plots of Drama

In drama, the plot refers to the sequence of events that takes place in a story. It is the backbone of any dramatic work and gives direction to the story, moving it forward and creating suspense and tension. There are various types of plots in drama, including the linear plot, the nonlinear plot, the episodic plot, and the circular plot.

A linear plot follows a straight and chronological order of events, while a nonlinear plot jumps back and forth in time. An episodic plot is made up of separate incidents, while a circular plot ends where it begins. Examples of drama with different types of plots include “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare with a linear plot, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald with a circular plot, “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams with an episodic plot, and “Memento” by Christopher Nolan with a nonlinear plot. Understanding the different types of plots in drama helps to appreciate the storyline and how it affects the overall experience of the audience.

Characterization in Drama

Characterization is a technique used in drama to bring a character to life and make them more realistic and relatable to the audience. This involves creating a personality for the character, including their physical appearance, emotions, motivations, and behavior.

In drama, characters play a vital role in the plot and are used to convey the themes and messages of the play. There are many different types of characters in drama, each with their own unique traits and personalities. These characters can be classified into several categories such as the protagonist, antagonist, foil, and round and flat characters.

The protagonist is the main character of the play who drives the action forward, while the antagonist is the character who opposes the protagonist. Foil characters are those who contrast with the protagonist, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. Round characters are those who are complex and multi-dimensional, while flat characters are more one-dimensional and lack depth. Shakespeare’s plays are a great example of the use of characterization in drama. For instance, in Hamlet, the protagonist Hamlet is complex and multi-dimensional while the antagonist Claudius is portrayed as selfish and manipulative. Horatio, a supporting character, is a foil to Hamlet and highlights his strengths and weaknesses.


Tragedy is a form of drama that deals with the suffering and eventual downfall of a central character. It typically involves a character who is in a position of power or prosperity, but through a tragic flaw or mistake, loses everything. There are several types of tragedy in drama including classical tragedy, modern tragedy, and revenge tragedy.

Classical tragedy, like the works of Shakespeare, is focused on the downfall of a noble character due to a tragic flaw or mistake. Modern tragedy, like the works of Arthur Miller, explores the tragic consequences of societal issues and pressures. Revenge tragedy, like the works of William Congreve, is focused on the pursuit of vengeance and the inevitable consequences that come with it. An example of classical tragedy is Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” while an example of modern tragedy is Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” An example of a revenge tragedy is William Congreve’s “The Mourning Bride.”


Comedy in writing about drama can be seen as a way to bring humor and levity to a serious or intense situation. There are several types of comedies in drama, such as farce, satire, and romantic comedy. Farce involves physical humor and exaggerated situations, while satire uses humor to criticize and point out flaws in society. Romantic comedy, as the name suggests, involves humorous situations in a romantic setting. An example of a farce in drama can be seen in William Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors,” while a satire can be seen in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” “Much Ado About Nothing” is an example of a romantic comedy in drama. Comedy in drama can help break up tension and provide a moment of relief for the audience, while allowing the writer to explore deeper themes and ideas in a more lighthearted way.

Difference between comedy and Tragedy

Comedy and tragedy are two of the most popular genres of literature, film, and theater. While they both aim to evoke an emotional response from the audience, the two genres have several key differences.

The main difference between comedy and tragedy is the tone. Comedy is characterized by a light and humorous tone, while tragedy is characterized by a more serious and somber tone. Comedies are generally intended to make the audience laugh, while tragedies are intended to evoke feelings of sorrow and empathy.

Another key difference between the two genres is the type of conflict that is presented. Comedies often deal with conflicts that are ultimately resolved in a positive way, while tragedies deal with conflicts that end in a negative or tragic way. In a comedy, the protagonist typically triumphs over adversity and comes out on top, while in a tragedy, the protagonist often suffers a great loss or ultimate defeat.

Finally, the two genres also differ in terms of their subject matter and themes. Comedies often deal with everyday life and situations, while tragedies deal with more serious and weighty subjects such as death, love, and betrayal.

Examples of comedies include movies like “Bridesmaids” and TV shows like “The Office,” while examples of tragedies include plays like “Hamlet” and movies like “Schindler’s List.” In summary, the differences between comedy and tragedy lie in their tone, type of conflict presented, and subject matter.

By Waqas Sharif

Mr. Waqas Sharif is an English Language Teaching (ELT) Professional, Trainer, and Course Instructor at a Public Sector Institute. He has more than ten years of Eng Language Teaching experience at the Graduate and Postgraduate level. His main interest is found in facilitating his students globally He wishes them to develop academic skills like Reading, Writing, and Communication mastery along with Basics of Functional Grammar, English Language, and Linguistics.

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