Type of dramatic play

6 Reasons Why Dramatic Play Matters

It’s hard not to smile when you see young kids take part in imaginative play. The pile of pillows in the living room becomes a pirate ship, their friends and siblings become a fearsome gang of treasure-hungry swashbucklers and the dog’s now pulling double duty as a man-eating shark. 

These kids’ pirate adventures may just seem like some simple afternoon of fun, but they’re actually engaging in a positive learning experience called dramatic play. You may have heard of dramatic play before, but do you know what it is or why it matters for your kids?

Believe it or not, something as simple as an hour of pretend playtime can provide real benefits to children’s cognitive development. We have the scoop on what dramatic play entails, why it matters and how you can encourage this activity with your kids.

What is dramatic play?

While academic research using terms like “sociodramatic play” to describe this activity might make it sound like an intimidating concept to grasp, you’re probably already familiar with dramatic play.

“Dramatic play, also called pretend play, involves acting out real-world situations and taking on the roles of different characters,” says Lily Jones, former kindergarten teacher and founder of Curiosity Forever.

"Children use dramatic play to explore their own thoughts and feelings."

There are two primary types of dramatic play: structured and unstructured. Unstructured dramatic play gives children the freedom to choose their own roles and play scenarios. Structured dramatic play, on the other hand, has specific guidelines or prompts to get them started. Children are presented with a pre-determined scenario and then must make choices and discover solutions.

Both structured and unstructured dramatic play are important for your children’s emotional and social development. Maybe you remember dramatic play from your own childhood as “make-believe” or “playing house.” Whatever you want to call it, it’s an important opportunity for kids to act out scenarios from the real world and fictional lands alike.

6 Reasons why dramatic play for toddlers is important

Dramatic play is an integral part of a child’s social, emotional and cognitive development. Here are six important aspects of dramatic play:

1. Dramatic play teaches self-regulation

Toddlers and preschoolers are known for acting impulsively, but dramatic play is a positive steppingstone toward self-regulation. While they’re still figuring out what is or isn’t appropriate for a situation, children tend to be motivated to follow the “rules” of a pretend play scenario and learn to stick to their roles in a way that is acceptable to the group. This helps them grow in their ability to inhibit their impulses, coordinate with others and make plans.

2. Dramatic play gives children an emotional outlet

Dramatic play allows kids to act out scenarios they’ve seen or heard in real life, giving them an important emotional outlet as they explore new situations. “Young children do not yet think internally,” explains Barbara E. Harvey, executive director of Parents, Teachers and Advocates. “Children use dramatic play to explore their own thoughts and feelings.”

This is especially important for children who have seen something upsetting or scary in their daily lives. Dramatic play gives them an opportunity to sort through difficult emotions and “practice being in the world,” according to Jones.

3. Dramatic play teaches conflict resolution

Both unstructured and structured dramatic play offer plenty of opportunities for teachable moments about conflict resolution. Disagreements between children will inevitably crop up during unstructured dramatic play, which offers a chance for kids to work through their differences and arrange a compromise.

Dramatic play encourages children to resolve conflict, consider perspectives beyond their own and recognize the various roles and responsibilities individuals have in our society. Structured dramatic play often encourages children to consider a specific problem and propose their own solutions.

4. Dramatic play supports literacy

Dramatic play provides a prime opportunity for kids to improve their literacy skills. They can be exposed to “functional print” (like newspapers, signs or menus) in a play setting, which can help contextualize words and concepts. Additionally, with some light guidance, vocabularies can be expanded. Questions like, “What foods should we serve?” and “What tools will we need?” to the kids playing restaurant can provide an easy opening for introducing new words and concepts.

Dramatic play can also increase reading comprehension. Kids often choose to act out scenes from a favorite storybook. This gives them a deeper understanding of the narrative structure and character motivations found in familiar stories.

5. It develops creative thinking and storytelling ability

The question “So what happens next?” is a given during any dramatic play scenario, and your little ones certainly benefit from filling in the narrative gaps. The twists and turns of a pretend trip to a grocery store can be pretty wild when left in the hands of a toddler (watch out for the humongous dinosaurs tearing up aisle two), but these uncommon scenarios and ideas are still an excellent way to get their gears turning as they figure out how to proceed.

6. Dramatic play allows you to support your kids and encourage their ideas

Like we said above, kids process their inner thoughts and emotions externally through dramatic play. That means you can learn a lot about what makes your kids happy, scared or frustrated just by observing their pretend play.

The next time you see your kids acting as pirates, firefighters or chefs, pay attention. This is your chance to foster ideas and work through different emotions and social concepts.

“Asking ‘How do you know?’ or ‘Why do you think?’ kinds of questions are great for inspiring further thinking and extending the learning,” says Dr. Debbie Bergeron, deputy director for community engagement and innovation at the National Head Start Association®.

Pretend play ideas: How can you encourage dramatic play?

Now you know dramatic play is important, but how can you incorporate it into everyday life? The answer is easier than you might think. Kids naturally gravitate toward dramatic play, so they only need a little encouragement from you before they’ll be off and running.

There are a few tried-and-true ways to encourage dramatic and pretend play.

1. Have a prop box and costumes

It doesn’t take a lot to provide a spark. Starting a dress-up box filled with scarves, hats and other clothing items for costumes is a simple step that can capture their attention. It can also help to include themed toys or props (like a kitchen playset) at their disposal. Remember, you don’t need to go overboard—cardboard boxes and pillows can still provide a solid starting point.

“Use everyday items to create a fantasy world for your child,” says Joanne Cazeau, pediatric speech-language pathologist at Koze Speech Therapy. “Large crates and used shipping boxes make great race cars and homes. Old blankets and pillows make excellent forts.”

2. Having a dedicated space for pretend play

While it’s not necessarily a requirement, it can certainly help to have a dedicated space set aside in your home or childcare center. With the right props and equipment, you can give kids a somewhat contained space that sparks dramatic play ideas.

“[Ideally] the area has multiple possibilities. It can be transformed into a supermarket, an airport, a doctor’s office, a fire station, etc.,” says Yvette Estrella, an education specialist at PS Family NYC®. “Such settings can reflect the children’s community and help them better understand the world around them.” 

3. Intentionally having free time set aside for play

It might seem a little counterintuitive, but there’s value in leaving “unscheduled” space in the day for kids. Sometimes the absence of planned activities is the perfect catalyst as children will often naturally fill the time with unstructured dramatic play.

“Parents and caregivers can engage with their children during unstructured play, but they should be open to following their child’s lead,” says Sally Macaluso, special education preschool teacher and blogger at Tenderhearted Teacher. “A parent or caregiver can encourage pretend play by providing their child with the time and space to explore.

4. Provide scenarios and model behavior

For structured dramatic play, it can help to provide scenarios to get the ball rolling.

“After transforming the dramatic play area, I would introduce the ‘new’ space. For instance, if the area was transformed into a supermarket, we’ll start with asking the children questions to see their prior knowledge of supermarkets,” says Estrella. “We’d then show them the new materials and supplies and explain to them how each item is used, such as the cash register or the food baskets.”

During this time, you’ll still want to maintain a light touch and let the kids take the scenario where they want.

“Let the children’s imagination go so they can grow,” says Estrella. “Parents and educators should let their children explore safely without judgment or criticism.”

Ready, set, PLAY!

Now that you know more about what dramatic play is, why it matters and how to encourage it, you’re in a great position to continue supporting child development through play.

If you love supporting your kids in their dramatic play adventures, you might be destined to help other kids in a career as an educator! If you’re seriously considering a career in early education, check out our article “Why Become a Teacher?” Preschool Educators Share What They Love About Their Work” to hear more from educators in the field.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in 2015 and has since been updated. Insight from Jones and Harvey remains from the original publication date.

National Head Start Association is a registered trademark of National Head Start Association Corporation.
PS Family NYC is a registered trademark of Program Support LLC.

What It Is and Why It’s Important

Skip to contentSkip to Live Chat

  • Admission Requirements
    • Teachers College Admissions Requirements
    • College of Business Admissions Requirements
    • College of IT Admissions Requirements
    • College of Health Professions Admissions Requirements
  • Tuition and Fees
    • Tuition—College of Business
    • Tuition—Teachers College
    • Tuition—College of IT
    • Tuition—College of Health Professions
  • Financial Aid
    • Applying for Financial Aid
    • State Grants
    • Consumer Information Guide
    • Your Financial Obligations
    • Responsible Borrowing Initiative
    • Higher Education Relief Fund
  • Scholarships
  • Corporate Reimbursement
  • Graduate Outcomes
    • Our Students & Graduates
    • Alumni Services
    • Inspiring Stories of Student Success
    • Return on Investment
    • Diversity
  • Learning at WGU
    • Accreditation
    • How You'll Learn
    • Student Reviews
    • Partner Organizations
    • Paying for School
    • Our Faculty
  • Military and Veterans
    • Tuition and Funding
    • Part-Time Options
    • Veterans Virtual Resource Center
  • Education Outcomes
    • Juggling Life and School
    • Getting a Raise or Promotion
    • Starting a New Career
    • Taking the Next Step in Education
    • Career Guides
  • Blog

Online Degrees

  • Admissions

  • Tuition & Financial Aid

    • Tuition and Fees
    • Tuition—College of Business
    • Tuition—Teachers College
    • Tuition—College of IT
    • Tuition—College of Health Professions
    • Financial Aid
    • Applying for Financial Aid
    • State Grants
    • Consumer Information Guide
    • Your Financial Obligations
    • Responsible Borrowing Initiative
    • Higher Education Relief Fund
    • Scholarships
    • Corporate Reimbursement
  • Student Success

    • Graduate Outcomes
    • Our Students & Graduates
    • Alumni Services
    • Inspiring Stories of Student Success
    • Return on Investment
    • Diversity
    • Learning at WGU
    • Accreditation
    • How You'll Learn
    • Student Reviews
    • Partner Organizations
    • Paying for School
    • Our Faculty
    • Military and Veterans
    • Tuition and Funding
    • Part-Time Options
    • Veterans Virtual Resource Center
    • Education Outcomes
    • Juggling Life and School
    • Getting a Raise or Promotion
    • Starting a New Career
    • Taking the Next Step in Education
    • Career Guides
    • Blog
  • About WGU

November 5, 2021

Have you ever watched kids play dress-up to prepare for an audience with the Queen, or pretend that they’re astronauts headed into space, or leap around the living room without touching the floor because it’s lava? If so, you’ve witnessed dramatic play in action.

What is dramatic play? It’s the kind of play where kids take on roles and act them out as a way of exploring themselves and their surroundings. By pretending to be someone—or something—else, children can learn new ways to express themselves, share thoughts and ideas, and even get in touch with their feelings. Dramatic play is a very important part of childhood development.

There are three main stages of childhood development. There’s early childhood, which spans birth to eight years old. Next up is middle childhood from 8to 12 years of age, followed by adolescence, which covers ages 12 to 18. Dramatic play is important during the early childhood stage of development, as kids start to grow into themselves more and start to have a greater understanding of their individuality.

There are two types of dramatic play. They are:

  • Structured Play: This is the kind of play where there’s a game plan for the kind of play that kids are engaging in. This could mean a teacher or parent has created a scenario that has a definitive end point. For example, maybe they’re shopping at a grocery store, shipping a package at the post office, or buying a bouquet at the flower shop. In these scenarios, there are defined roles that are dictated by the situation, and the play leads to a specific conclusion (for example, completing their purchase at the grocery store).
  • Unstructured Play: This form of dramatic play is more freeform and left up to the kids to choose how they want to play, and how—or even if—it ends. This is where the classic “floor is lava” scenario comes into play, but other examples might be pretend play like being a dinosaur stomping around the living room or using a spoon as a “magnifying glass” while hunting for butterflies in the basement.

Examples of Dramatic Play

  • Young children may engage in dramatic play in a variety of ways, including:
  • Role-playing, such as being the parent to a doll or pretending to be a doctor seeing patients
  • Dressing up, whether putting on their parents’ clothes and shoes, or putting on a costume that was made specifically for them
  • Fixing things like the TV, the kitchen faucet, or the car, offering their diagnoses of the problem and how they can solve it
  • Exploring and adventuring, whether in their own room or the backyard, discovering new creatures and unseen worlds

Dramatic play benefits are numerous. In addition to supporting creativity and self-expression, dramatic play can help children learn real life skills and social skills that can serve them throughout their lives, from engaging in dramatic play for toddlers, to playtime in their preschool classroom, and beyond. Technology can also play a part in dramatic play, giving kids an entirely different arena in which to explore themselves and the world around them.

The benefits of dramatic play include:

  • Learning conflict resolution, helping children to learn creative problem-solving skills alongside their peers
  • Exploring self-empowerment, allowing kids the opportunity to make choices, act out their feelings, and find a new connection to themselves
  • Learning math and literacy, particularly in play that includes playing with numbers (like the grocery store game)
  • Blowing off steam, so overly energetic children have another outlet to decompress and have fun
  • Engaging in language development, encouraging kids to express themselves in different ways, whether playing a role or playing as themselves
  • Embracing self-regulation, especially in role-playing where children are expected to fulfill a particular part in the play scenario

There are many ways that educators and parents like you can encourage dramatic play, both in a school setting and at home. For example, you can:

  • Buy some fun clothes from a thrift store and suggest playing dress up at home, encouraging your child to embrace role playing and drive the play narrative
  • Make time for dramatic play in the classroom, using a theme as a guide and giving kids an outline to follow within that theme
  • Engage in your own form of dramatic play at home and encourage your kids to join in, whether it’s opening a pretend restaurant where you make pizza or going hunting for monsters in the house
  • Give students a toy that they must create a narrative around, and break the class up into groups to explore that narrative

It’s important for parents and teachers to collaborate on dramatic play efforts so that each side of the child’s developmental support system is aware of the progress happening both at home and at school. Although many teachers learn about dramatic play while they’re pursuing their degrees, parents might not be as aware of it—and how important it is for early childhood development. By partnering with a teacher who has in-depth knowledge of dramatic play, everyone can collaborate on the themes and approaches that best suit their child.

Although dramatic play can differ from child to child and classroom to home, its results are the same: vibrant, playful children who find strength and comfort in their own self-expression.

Share this:




Subscribe to the WGU Blog

Stay up-to-date with the latest articles, tips, and insights from the team at WGU

Most Popular

Our focus on your success starts with our focus on four high-demand fields: K–12 teaching and education, nursing and healthcare, information technology, and business. Every degree program at WGU is tied to a high-growth, highly rewarding career path. Which college fits you?

College of Business Online




Want to see all the degrees WGU has to offer? View all degrees



A play is a dramatic work intended for theatrical, television and radio performances. The term is usually used as a synonym for the literary concept of "drama". The concept was borrowed from the art of music, where it denoted a small piece of music.

The history of the emergence (birth) of the genre

The genre of the play originated in the theaters of ancient Greece. The first mention of the emergence of dramatic works can be found in Aristotle's Poetics. He says that the Greek tragedy, intended to be staged, originates from dithyrambs in honor of the god Dionysus.

Oedipus in Colon. Tragedy of Sophocles. Painting by Jean Antoine Theodor Gerust.

From V c. BC. - the heyday of Greek tragedy. Over 1,000 tragedies were written, but only 31 plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides have survived. These are works in verse, consisting of scenes in which no more than three characters are involved. The speech of the characters alternates with choral songs. The plots are based on myths or ancient history.

In IV-I centuries. BC. Greek drama is changing. Socio-political topics fade into the background, family and domestic relations become the main ones. The plays reflect modern life, the action is based on a love situation, family problems are described. The same social types are introduced: a miserly father, a grumpy mother-in-law, a savvy slave, a boastful officer, hetaerae, and so on.

IV c. BC. The Roman Republic seized the Greek lands, which led to the transformation of the Greek drama. Plays have become secular entertainment. New social types appeared: usurer, pimp, merchant. The action of the play becomes dynamic, all the characters are involved in intrigue, there is criticism of the characters from the point of view of morality. The value of the choir is greatly reduced. With the fall of the Roman Empire in the West, classical theater also disappears. Theatrical activity did not appear for more than 500 years.

Theater is reborn in Europe in the Roman Catholic Church. In the church they begin to read New Testament episodes in faces. From these dialogues emerges a liturgical drama.

By the middle of the XVI century. The Protestant movement puts an end to the religious drama, which allows the development of secular drama. During the Renaissance, there are attempts to transfer the experience of the classical drama of antiquity to the present.

At the same time, the Renaissance theater appears in Italy. A feature of the plays of this period is the verisimilitude. The choir is eliminated, positive characters are rewarded, and negative ones are punished. The law of trinity (time, place, action) becomes important.

In the 17th century a new drama appears in France. The main playwrights were Pierre Corneille, Jean Racine, Jean-Baptiste Molière. Braggarts, fools, old men, lovers, cunning servants appear in French plays. Many plays are written in verse.

In the 18th century a "philistine drama" appears, created by D. Diderot and G.E. Lessing.

1914 edition. Faust by Goethe.

At the beginning of the XIX century. Romantic drama is developing in most theaters in Europe. One of the best works of this period is Goethe's Faust (1808-1832). The largest romantic playwrights: V. Hugo, Dumas père, P. Merimee.

XIX-XX centuries - striving for everyday authenticity, credibility in dramatic works (G. Ibsen, A.N. Ostrovsky, A.P. Chekhov, M. Gorky, etc.).

At the turn of the XX-XXI centuries. modern dramaturgy began to look for new genres and means of expression. The direction of existentialism began to develop in Russia, and then in Germany and France. Playwrights make the hero of their works a person who thinks only about his meaningless, unnecessary existence. The hero is driven by fear, which forces him to change the imperfect world.

In the early 1950s the theater of the absurd appears. Its representatives conveyed to the reader their sense of a problem, constantly violating logic and refusing causal relationships.

Founders of the play

Ancient Greeks Thespis and Phrinichus who introduced the actor to the play are considered the first playwrights. Drama competitions were arranged between the authors, they also acted as actors in their plays, wrote music, staged dances.

The greatest tragedians of Ancient Greece are considered Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides . In their works, they touch upon issues of class inequality, the omnipotence of fate and the doom of the fight against it, and describe military events.

Aeschylus introduces a second actor into the play, thereby shortening the choir part and expanding the dialogue. Sophocles in his works hopes for a reconciliation between the trading elite and the aristocracy. For the first time, he introduces twists and turns, the third actor, slows down the swiftness of the action.

Euripides denies religion, therefore the characters in his dramas are people, not gods. He brings intrigue to the tragedy. The heroes of Aeschylus and Sophocles are simple, while Euripides has more complicated characters.

Characteristics of the piece

The play has the following characteristic features:

  1. A small volume of a dramatic work. The time of the depicted action in the play must fit within a strict framework. This affects the construction of the plot, the nature of the characters, the space.
  2. Absence of author's narration. The author's position in a dramatic work is hidden more than in works of other genres. Monologues, dialogues, remarks help the reader to imagine the time of action, the situation, the characters of the characters, their appearance.
  1. Dividing the text into acts (or actions) and phenomena. Each action (act) of a play is a relatively complete part of the whole. Inside the action there can be paintings or scenes. Each arrival or departure of the actor gives rise to a new action.
  1. Author's note. Each act of the play begins with the author's remark. When reading a play, they are addressed to the reader; when staged, they are addressed to the director and actor. The remark informs the characters, describes the stage setting, indicates the age, appearance, family relationships of the characters, the nature of their communication, the place and time of the action, the gestures and facial expressions of the characters. This is the so-called "side" text of the work.
  1. Dialogic form of text construction. Dialogue in a play is a means by which characters are revealed, a dramatic conflict develops. The monologue in the drama is no less important. Both dialogue and monologue realize the plot function, characterization, self-disclosure of the character.
  1. The presence of dramatic twists and turns. Dramatic conflict requires ups and downs - unexpected circumstances that cause complications, changes in the life of the hero.
  2. List of actors.
  3. Binding to a specific time and place.
  4. The peculiarity of the construction of the conflict.

Features of the construction of the plot and composition in the play

The text of the play is divided into actions or acts, which can be divided into scenes, pictures, phenomena or episodes. There are few events in a dramatic work, a small number and characters. Usually there is one plot line in the play.

The plot of the play must be consistent and have a clear structure.

Dramatic composition is the division of the text of the play into parts according to time and place of action and the artistically expedient correlation of these parts. The composition of the play is subject to the disclosure of the conflict.

A dramatic work consists of an exposition, a plot, a development of the action, a climax, a denouement. In addition, there is a prologue and an epilogue.

Prologue is a kind of preface, an introduction that is not directly related to the plot of a dramatic work.

Exposition is a part of a dramatic work that describes the situation preceding the main action. The exposition is closely related to the main action. This part usually contains information about the characters, time and place of action.

The plot is the part of the playwright in which the main conflict of the work occurs. Events occur, fateful decisions are made that violate the original situation.

Development of action - the most extensive part of a dramatic work, consisting of certain episodes, which the authors usually break into acts, scenes, phenomena, actions. This is the main field of action and development. The writer creates tense moments, delays the moment of battle, introduces new complications. The action in the play should go on an increasing line.

The climax is the peak point of the development of the action, the most tense moment in the play. The climax is based on a central, turning point, which is a fundamental turning point in the action in favor of one or another side involved in the conflict.

The denouement is the part where the main conflict of the play ends. Here the fate of all the actors is determined.

Epilogue - a part of the composition in which the semantic completion of the work as a whole is carried out. In this peculiar afterword, the author sums up the semantic results of the play.

The following laws of composition are known:

  • novelty;
  • integrity;
  • interconnection and subordination;
  • proportionality;
  • contrast ratio;
  • unity of content and form;
  • typification and generalization.

Artistic devices in the play

Writers-playwrights are limited in their choice of visual means. The authors of dramatic works do not use metaphors, comparisons, consonance, alliteration, rhyme.

The main means of characterizing the characters in the play are the actions, actions, gestures, facial expressions, and speech of the characters. Dialogues and monologues of characters often include aphorisms and maxims, and remarks "aside" help to get to know the hero better, to understand his thoughts and feelings.

The epigraph plays an important role in the play. A short quote placed at the beginning of a work carries a certain meaning. The epigraph introduces the reader to the text, prepares for perception. For example, in the play by N.V. Gogol's "Inspector General" epigraph - this is a Russian proverb "There is nothing to blame on the mirror, if the face is crooked." The writer says that it is pointless to complain about others if you yourself succumb to these vices.

Drama gravitates toward the spectacular presentation of what is depicted, so writers use hyperbole in their works, i.e. excessive exaggeration of any qualitative or quantitative properties of objects, phenomena, processes.

For example, in the comedy A.S. Griboedov “Woe from Wit” there are the following lines:

“Yes, no urine: a million torments

Breasts from a friendly vice”

Also, playwrights resort to irony to create a comic effect in their works. Irony is a veiled mockery, the meaning of which is the opposite of what was said. Irony in the plays of A.S. Griboedova, D.I. Fonvizina, A.P. Chekhov is expressed not only in the words of the characters, but also in their actions.

Division within the genre: types of plays

Drama is a social play that depicts a serious conflict between actors (or a hero and society). Relationships are always full of drama: there is an intense struggle within and between individual characters. Examples: W. Shakespeare "Othello", M. Gorky "At the Bottom", D. Diderot "Father of the Family" and others. events (most often death). The main character evokes compassion and pity in the reader or viewer. Examples: W. Shakespeare "Hamlet", "Romeo and Juliet", P. Corneille "Attila", A.N. Ostrovsky "Thunderstorm", etc.

Comedy is an entertaining play based on jokes, humor and satire. In these works, negative character traits and curious life situations are ridiculed. Examples: A.S. Griboyedov "Woe from Wit", N.V. Gogol “The Government Inspector, B. Shaw “Millionaire” and others.

Adjacent to this genre:

  • Farce is a comedy play primarily for stage performance, in which absurdity and nonsense predominate;
  • vaudeville is a light comedy play of a satirical nature, which includes words, dances, music, songs and stage action;
  • interlude is a small comic scene played out between the actions of the main performance or performance;
  • sketch is a short comedy with several characters.

Tragicomedy is a play that combines signs of tragedy and comedy. In such works, the tragic plot is depicted in a comic form, serious pictures are combined with funny ones. The main technique is the grotesque. Examples: A.P. Chekhov "The Cherry Orchard", W. Shakespeare "The Tempest", etc.

Melodrama is a play, the purpose of which is to reveal the sensual world of the hero.

Genre audience

Dramatic works are in demand among modern society. N.V. Gogol said that "the play lives only on the stage ...". This expression can explain the fact that the main audience of the drama is theatergoers and moviegoers. The relevance of this genre lies in its variability, flexibility, "involvement" in the problems of any time.

Similarity with other genres

Dramatic works, like epic works, are subject to the law of developing action. So, in the play by M.A. Bulgakov's "Days of the Turbins" and the novel "The White Guard" by the same author, one and the same conflict can be found: "historical time is a person. " Both in the play and in the novel, man comes into conflict with historical time.

The plays are also closely connected with the sphere of laughter, as they developed in close connection with mass festivities, where everyone laughed and had fun.

Outstanding representatives

France : A. Hardy, J. Rotru, E. Ionesco, J. Meret, P. Corneille, P. Beaumarchais, D. Diderot, J.-B. Molière, J.-B. Racine et al.

UK : J. Lillo, R. Green, O. Wilde, J. Ford, W. Shakespeare, B. Shaw et al.

America : Eugene, O' Neil, Sidney Howard, M. Connelly, E. Albee et al.

Germany : G.E. Lessing, I. Goethe, F. Schiller, G. Hauptmann, etc.

Russia : A.P. Sumarokov, A.P. Chekhov, A.V. Sukhovo-Kobylin, I. S. Turgenev, L.N. Andreev, A.N. Ostrovsky, A.S. Griboyedov, D.I. Fonvizin and others

Others : G. Ibsen, A. Strindberg, M. Maeterlinck, F. Werfel.

Demand for the play in different periods

Approximately until the 18th century. the plays were as popular as the epics. Often the dramatic genre became the leading form of artistic reproduction of life. This is due to several factors:

  1. Theatrical art (particularly the production of plays) was accessible to all levels of society. Only wealthy people could afford to buy a book at that time because of their high cost.
  1. In the plays the characters were depicted with sharply expressed features, human passions were shown, pathetic tone, grotesque prevailed. All this corresponded to general literary and general artistic trends.

With the development of printing technologies, epic genres take precedence. Nevertheless, dramatic works in literature still have a place of honor.

Representatives of the genre in the school curriculum

The Russian literature school curriculum includes dramatic works by the following authors: D. I. Fonvizina, A.S. Pushkin, A.S. Griboedova, N.V. Gogol, A.N. Ostrovsky, A.P. Chekhov, M. Gorky, A.M. Volodina, A.N. Arbuzov, V.S. Rozova, A.V. Vampilov. The school curriculum also includes plays by foreign authors such as J.-B. Moliere, W. Shakespeare, I. Goethe.

  1. Averintsev SS Ancient Greek poetics and world literature // Poetics of ancient Greek literature.
  2. Vladimirov V. Action in drama - M., 1982.
  3. Gromova, M.I. In search of a modern play / M.I. Gromova // Literature at school. – 1996.
  4. Darwin M. N., Magomedova D. M., Tyupa V. I., Tamarchenko N. D. The Theory of Literary Genres / Ed. N. D. Tamarchenko. – M.: Academy, 2011.
  5. Zhurcheva, O.V. The author in drama: forms of expression of the author's consciousness in the Russian drama of the XX century / O.V. Zhurchev. - Samara, 2007.
  6. Pronin V. A. Theory of literary genres. Algebra and harmony of the genre
  7. Tamarchenko N.D. Genre system // Poetics: a dictionary of actual terms and concepts / Ed. N. D. Tamarchenko.
  8. Tomashevsky B. V. Theory of Literature. Poetics. genres are dramatic.
  9. Khalizev Drama as a phenomenon of art.
  10. Khalizev V. Theory of Literature.
  11. Khrapchenko M. B. The creative individuality of the writer and the development of literature. 2nd ed. - M, 1972.
  12. Chistyukhin I. "About drama and dramaturgy"

Daniil Romanovich | Views: 2.4k | Rate:

The genre of drama in the works of A. N. Ostrovsky


Pecherskaya T.V.

Most literary dictionaries define dramas as plays of a social nature, in which the conflict does not receive a tragic outcome. Distinguished from drama, tragedy was originally formed as a genre based on conflicts affecting the interests of the whole people, and where the finale was crowned by the death of the hero, catastrophic in its essence. Drama in Ostrovsky's work becomes a genre that made it possible to synthesize the dramatic with the tragic in such a way that the tragic did not become decisive, since Ostrovsky's dramas are by no means catastrophic at their core. Their tragic outcomes are deaths, signifying the cleansing of passions, deliverance from suffering. In his dramas, Ostrovsky showed the complex relationships between people, their communication, behavior, variety of types, faces, characters, displaying a dynamic, changeable, extremely eventful, emotionally, psychologically social reality. In addition to identifying the specifics of Ostrovsky's drama, this article defines the nature of the evolution of this genre, the main modifications of the author's dramas.

Keywords: A.N. Ostrovsky, genre, genre subtitle, drama, tragedy, genre modifications.


Pecherskaya T.V.

Most literary dictionaries define "drama" as a play unfolding in social settings where the conflict does not have a tragic ending. Tragedy unlike drama was formed as a genre full of large-scale public and social conflicts which ended with a catastrophic demise of the main character. Ostrovsky sees drama as a genre where it is possible to encompass elements of drama and tragedy but in such a way that dramatic episodes do not overshadow the plot as they lack catastrophic undertones. Tragic ending of plays symbolize the fact that the characters are exempt from their passions and tribulations. Ostrovsky's dramas show complex relationships of people, their interaction, behavior, variety of character types. He demonstrates reality full of dynamism, various events, emotions and psychological dramas. The article also covers the process of evolution of this genre and main modifications of dramas.

Keywords: A.N. Ostrovsky, genre, genre subheading, drama, genre modifications.

The work was supported by the state through the Russian Ministry of Education and Science.

Peru A.N. Ostrovsky owns four plays, in the genre subtitle of which the author spells out the designation "drama": "folk drama" "Do not live as you want", "dramas" "Thunderstorm", "Sin and trouble does not live on anyone", "Dowry". Of all these plays, only the first ends happily - not with death, but with the repentance of the protagonist. Despite the tragic nature of the denouement of the rest of his dramas, Ostrovsky did not call any of these plays a tragedy - probably, taking into account the deeply rooted notions of a historical or mythological plot in the public and

high social status of the heroes of this genre. It is indicative that A.F. Pisemsky also classified as tragedies only those of his plays in which the historical past was depicted and persons of noble origin acted: “Samoupravtsy”, “Lieutenant Gladkov”; tragic in terms of conflict and finale, “A Bitter Fate,” he called a drama [6].

Many studies have been devoted to Ostrovsky's dramas, revealing, among other things, their genre essence. However, on the way to identifying the specifics of the poetics of each Ostrovsky's dramatic genre, which received its own genre definition, there is a need to revise the entire system of dramatic genres, to distinguish between independent genres and modifications of one or another full-fledged genre.

Each of Ostrovsky's dramas is a unique phenomenon not only in its content, but also in its problems, plot organization, dramatic means and techniques. The first experience of the author in the genre of drama was the play “Do not live as you want”, written in the “Moscow” period of A.N. Ostrovsky. The appearance of this “folk drama” turned out to be in tune with the general element of the Moskvityanin magazine, in the atmosphere of which the aesthetic tastes of the novice playwright were formed. It is no coincidence that the definition of “folk”, spelled out in the genre subtitle of the author: this drama by Ostrovsky reveals the specifics of the worldview, the life values ​​of the people, it contains the national spirit, the multicoloredness of folk customs and rituals. The people's world, as depicted by Ostrovsky in this drama, has its own philosophy, manifested in language, way of thinking and in everyday actions, its own culture. Ostrovsky's "folk drama" is not an independent genre, but, in all likelihood, a variation of the genre of drama, since the definition of "folk" mainly emphasizes the themes of the play, the material underlying it, the moral and philosophical orientation. As I.A. Ovchinin, the plots of all Muscovite plays by the playwright “are built on the foundations of folk aesthetics and on stable0007

formulas that are drawn from the primary sources of life: departure - return, break - connection, resentment - reconciliation, sin - repentance" [3, p. 75].

The action of Ostrovsky's first drama, pushed into the past, towards the end of 18, takes place on the last week of Maslenitsa, a pagan holiday, when people are freed from the rules regulating their private life, when direct feelings, passions spilled in an atmosphere of universal pagan fun. However, already from the first appearances in the play, dramatic lines of plot development appear, revealed during the reconstruction of the process of the destruction of the family. There is a lot of sin in the life of the central characters: the spouses Dasha and Peter constantly swear, even on the “forgiven days”, when, as Afimya laments, “strangers make peace, and they get up, lie down and scold and rebuke” [4, v. 1 , With. 380]; During the Maslenitsa festivities, Peter is fond of Pear, having cooled off towards his wife. At the end of the play, the characters come to the conclusion that only on the path of repentance is it possible to truly transform and purify a person; the conflict does not receive a tragic outcome. Deep moral issues, semantic and philosophical-ethical richness of "Don't live as you want", as well as the realism of the transmitted pictures of folk life, make it possible to define this play by Ostrovsky as a drama of a socio-ethical type.

One of the brightest, most unusual and sharpest pieces in the Russian repertoire is The Thunderstorm, which received the genre designation "drama" from the author. However, it is no coincidence that a number of scholars and critics define this work by Ostrovsky as a "genre-pure tragedy", "Russian tragedy", "people's social and domestic tragedy", arguing their conclusions, first of all, by the nature of the finale of "Thunderstorm": the death of the heroine becomes the main indicator of her tragedy.

Creating a drama of a tragic type, Ostrovsky uses as a starting point a typical situation of a classic tragedy, based on the conflict between feeling and duty. Having fallen in love strongly,

deeply, selflessly, Katerina decides on a terrible sin, cheating on her husband, and goes towards the feeling with the consciousness of inevitable retribution for this. The very love for Boris is perceived by her as a misfortune, as a tragedy. The finale, as in typical tragedy plays, has a purifying effect on the audience, arousing noble, lofty aspirations in them.

Katerina Kabanova, having gone through storm trials, is morally cleansed and leaves this world with the consciousness of her own righteousness. “As for suicide, which, according to Christian concepts, is a terrible sin,” notes Yu.V. Lebedev, Ostrovsky, after all, shows that at the end of the tragedy, there is a kind of voluntary merging of the heroine with the natural world, a voluntary departure into her in the spirit of ancient folk beliefs” [2, p. 54]. And this fact, of course, speaks in defense of Ostrovsky, who called The Thunderstorm a drama. As Dan Delert emphasized, in drama it is necessary to give the protagonist "the opportunity for the greatest change of decisions", like Katherine, within whom there is a constant "struggle between attraction to a loved one and fidelity to her husband"; in tragedy "there must be fear and compassion" [1, p. eighteen]. The Thunderstorm is a drama-tragedy of a social type, where Ostrovsky's innovation was that he wrote a play with a tragic ending on exclusively vital material, completely uncharacteristic of the tragic genre.

Drama "Sin and trouble does not live on anyone" in terms of genre, the nature of the dramatic conflict and the emotional intensity clearly echoes the "Thunderstorm". Events develop against the backdrop of the life of an ordinary provincial town, shown in an ironic comedic way. Barin Babaev, who came here on his own business, out of boredom decides to take care of Tatyana Krasnova, who once lived in his mother's house.

The destruction of the family is again in the center of Ostrovsky's attention. Petty trader Lev Krasnov, who loves his wife Tatyana, tries to please her in everything, to forestall her every desire, to earn her respect. This hero

rises above the home-building environment, he is able to feel, experience, he strives for a harmonious family life. A loving husband, Krasnov surrounds his wife with care, he becomes her breadwinner and protector. The hero is clearly opposed to the inert and closed world, which ultimately wins over him. In this regard, "Sin and trouble does not live on anyone", a drama-tragedy of a socio-ethical type, echoes the drama "Do not live as you want" and at the same time means the development of ethical and aesthetic problems in the work of the playwright.

The further strengthening of tragic intonations in Ostrovsky's drama is connected with this play. Tatyana Krasnova goes for deceit, which has destructive power. Blinded by jealousy, Krasnov kills his wife and thereby kills the best in himself that grew with such difficulty in his soul. The tragedy that is being prepared gradually gives the drama a scenic scale and psychological depth, reflecting the moral imperfection of a person who has succumbed to his passions.

The result of Ostrovsky's work in the genre of drama was the play "Dowry", which revealed many-sidedly complex and psychologically polyphonic characters. In the late drama of Ostrovsky, a rapidly changing Russia appears, undergoing a process of capitalization. The emergence of new experience in a changing all-Russian atmosphere introduces new features into social reality, into communication between people. The loss of connection with national origins will ultimately determine the tragic situation on the basis of which Ostrovsky's play-drama "The Dowry" is built.

The playwright focuses on the fate of a woman, a gifted, artistic nature, open and sensual. The deep emotional drama that happened to Larisa Ogudalova is appreciated by the pillars of modern society, devoid of compassion, the ability to experience true and deep feelings. “Instead of life, some kind of performance of

puppets is played, in which living people play the role of puppets, and the puppeteers are idols who own countless capitals, but are completely devoid of a feeling of love and heartfelt affection” [5, p. 56].

Larisa is unable to see the true face of Paratov, who she sees as the ideal man. In Karandyshev's shot, she finds a manifestation of a living feeling and dies with the words of Christian forgiveness on her lips: “I don’t complain about anyone, I don’t take offense at anyone ... you are all good people ... I am all of you. I love everyone” [4, v. 5, p. 81].

"Dowry" was a new genre modification of drama in Ostrovsky's work: it is a drama-tragedy of a socio-psychological type, in which the author's attention is focused on the inner life of his characters, revealed in dramatic scenes, in the most intense situations. The drama "Dowry" is distinguished by a special psychological depth, where the role of premonitions, secret symbolism is great, introspection is inherent in the characters, their actions are psychologically motivated. In the late variation of Ostrovsky's drama, the psychological drawings of characters become noticeably more complicated: the spontaneity, sincerity of the heroes of his early dramas give way to internally cruel heroes, and a tendency to depersonalize a person is formed.

So, Ostrovsky's designation drama turns out to be much more than just a genre definition. The special nature of the play-drama conflict, their deep and ideological meaning become the main reasons for classifying even those plays with a tragic ending as dramas. The formation of the drama genre in Ostrovsky's work was associated with the search for a hero who could enter into a dramatic struggle in the name of a worthy goal, while arousing the sympathy of the viewer. Possessing an absolute "dramatic ear" and artistic flair, Ostrovsky directed attention in dramas to those moments that organize, streamline

patriarchal world, create strong cultural, everyday, spiritual supports, and at the same time, in certain situations, hinder its development.


1. Dan Delert. The Art of the Dramatist (Manual). Rostov-on-Don.


2. Lebedev Yu.V. Russian folk ideal of sinlessness and holiness in the finale of "Thunderstorm" by A.N. Ostrovsky // Shchelykovsky readings 2002. Problems of aesthetics and poetics of A.N. Ostrovsky: Collection of articles / Nauch. ed., comp. I.A. Edoshin. Kostroma. 2003. S. 54-62.

3. Ovchinina I.A. A.N. Ostrovsky. Stages of creativity. M.: Encyclopedia of villages and villages. 1999. 220 p.

4. Ostrovsky A.N. Complete Works: In 12 volumes. M.: Art. 1973-1980.

5. Ostrovsky A.N. Encyclopedia / ch. ed. and comp. I.A. Ovchinina. Kostroma: Kostromaizdat; Shuya: Publishing House of the FGBOU VPO "SHGPU". 2012. 660 p.

6. Chernets L.V. Genres of Ostrovsky's plays. URL: http://tezaurus.oc3.ru/library.php?view=d&course=3&raz=6&pod=1&par=12


1. Dan Delert. Iskusstvo dramaturga (Rukovodstvo) [The art of a playwright (Manual)]. Rostov on Don, 1921.

2. Lebedev Yu.V. Russkiy narodnyy ideal bezgrekhovnosti i svyatosti v finale "Grozy" A.N. Ostrovsky [Russian folk ideal of sinlessness and sanctity in the end of the play "Thunderstorm" by A.N. Ostrovsky]. Shchelykovskie chteniya 2002. Problemy estetiki i poetiki tvorchestva A.N. Ostrovskogo [Shelykovskiye readings 2002. The problems of esthetics and poetics of works of A.N. Ostrovsky]: a collected works / edited by I.A. Yedoshin Kostroma. 2003, pp. 54-62.

3. Ovchinina I.A. A.N. Ostrovskiy. Stage creativity [A.N. Ostrovsky. Bechmarks of his works]. Moswoc: Encyclopedia of villages. 1999. 220 p.

4. Ostrovskiy A.N. Full sobranie sochineniy [A.N. Ostrovzky. Complete set of works in 12 volumes]. Moscow: Publishing House "Iskusstvo". 1973-1980.

5. Ostrovsky A.N. Encyclopedia [A.N. Ostrovzky. Encyclopedia] / edited by I.A. Ovchinina. Kostroma, Shuya, publishing house of Shuya State Pedagogical University. $660

6. Chernets L.V. Zhanry pes Ostrovsky [Genres of Ostrovsky's plays]. http://tezaurus.oc3.ru/library.php?view=d&course=3&raz=6&pod=1&par=12


Pecherskaya Tatyana Vasilievna, candidate of philological sciences, doctoral student Ivanovo State University (Shuysky branch) st.

Learn more