6 Components of Drama

by Kristen Marquette
Aristotle is considered one of the world's greatest philosophers.

Aristotle is considered one of the world's greatest philosophers.

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Born in 384 B.C. in Greece, Aristotle studied under the philosopher and mathematician Plato, tutored a young Alexander the Great, and greatly contributed to science and philosophy until his death in 322 B.C. In 350 B.C., Aristotle wrote "Poetics." In this treatise, he analyzed the classical Greek tragedy, "Oedipus Rex" by Sophocles, and developed the six elements of drama.


The thought component of a drama is sometimes called the theme. It refers to the meaning of play. The thought element of the play may be obvious or obscure. Some playwrights choose to declare the theme in the title of the play or state it outright in the dialogue between characters. Other playwrights communicate the theme through emotions and reactions produced by the plot. In these plays, the audience often must analyze the play to discover its theme.


The plot of a drama refers to events that take place in the play, or the storyline. The plot is made up of characters involved in conflict that eventually climaxes, then comes to a resolution. This component consists of two stages. The first stage, the complication, includes everything that happens before the climax. Everything that happens after climax occurs during the unraveling stage.


In a drama, the characters are the people in the play who act out the plot and move it toward a resolution. Each character must be fully developed and equipped with his own personality, appearance, beliefs and background. The characters must be true to life, acting as a person of their age or status would behave in real life.


The fourth component of a drama is language or diction. The language consists of two parts: the words the playwright writes and the way the actors deliver those words on stage. The language develops the characters and moves the storyline along.


Music has two definitions in a drama. Most obviously, it consists of any songs or instrumental music involved in the play. While not all plays contain music, they all have a music component: the rhythm of the dialogue, sound effects and the actors' voices. Playwrights often use both types of the music element to convey the play's theme.


The visual elements of the play -- the scenery, costumes, and special effects -- make up the spectacle element of the play. This component allows the playwright to create a fictional world that the audience can see with their eyes and not just imagine in their minds.

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