Extraordinary character

     The extraordinary character larger than life, like royalty or the president. These characters at their best or worst or some extreme of human behavior.

     Extraordinary characters were mostly those of high birth until the 18th century, when ordinary people became heroes and heroines of drama: Macbeth vs Stanley Kowalski (Streetcar).

Representative quintessential characters

     The representative character embodies the traits and personalities of an entire group such as: Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman (all salesmen) or Nora Helmer in A Doll's House (all oppressed women)

Stock characters

     Stock characters exemplify one characteristic to exclusion of all others. Not fully rounded.

               Known by:

                        a.    Station in life

                        b.    Sex

                        c.    Occupation and personality (e.g. "lazy servent;" "absent-minded professor)

                   Most famous examples in commedia dell'arte

                        a.    16th and 17th century Italy

                        b.    No script; just scenario

                        c.    Characters divided into servants or ruling class

                                I.    In every character, one particular feature or trait was stressed

                                II.    Always wear same costume and has same propensities

Characters with dominant traits

     Characters withe a dominant traits have a character flaw that they favor. Closely related to stock characters

                2.    Name often suggests personality such as Mr. Pinchwife in The Country Wife (a man who holds onto his wife)

Minor characters

     Minor characters play a small role in the action and thus playwrights may only be able to show one side of their personality. Unlike stock characters, appear only briefly. Purpose is to further story or support important characters

                        a.    Servants

                        b.    Soldiers

                        c.    Can have higher station if appearance is brief

Narrator or chorus

     A narrator or chorus comments on the action of the play usually directly to the audience. not to be confused with soliloquy.

     Use of chorus creates dialectic or counterpoint between outside party and characters

                        a.    Counterpoint is a musical term denoting second melody moves in contrast to main melody.

                        b.    In Our Town stage manager made universal observations      creating a counterpoint between them and simple

                  everyday events

                        c.    Bertold Brecht used narrator to shock the audience by interrupting action to make a political statement.

Nonhuman characters

     Character that are other than human . when this device the nonhuman character represent some aspect of human character.

     1.    Aristophanes

                        a.    Birds

                        b.    Frogs

            2.    Ionesco

                        a.    Rhinoceros

     3.     Everyman (Medieval morality play)

                        1.    Fellowship

                        2.    Good Deeds

                        3.    Worldly Possession

                        4.    Beauty

Using Dramatic Characters

        A.    Juxtaposition of Characters

                1.    Protagonist and antagonist (from Greek theater)

                        a.    Protagonist: main character in play

                        b.    Antagonist: main character's chief opponent

                2.    Contrasting characters

                        a.    Through the contest between antagonist and      protagonist that individual qualities are developed

                        b.    Another way of contrasting characters is by putting them side by side like relatives with opposite personalities

                        c.    Contrasting characters often serve as foils just as putting contrasting colors next to each other emphasizes them

        B.    Orchestration of Characters

                A.    Chekhov "orchestrated" his characters

                        1.    In a musical composition theme is played first by one section and then by another; it can then be  played in different

                                      ways; major key, then minor key.

                        2.    Chekhov gave each character the representation of some aspect of a central them; by playing "solos" "duets" etc., he

                                     carefully wove the story through various shadings.

                        3.    Most dramatists use some variation of this technique; they arrange their characters to produce a cumulative effect.

Types of Dramatic Characters