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Monodrama and the Dramatic Monologue

A. Dwight Culler
PMLA
Vol. 90, No. 3 (May, 1975), pp. 366-385
DOI: 10.2307/461625
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/461625
Page Count: 20
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Monodrama and the Dramatic Monologue
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Abstract

The term "dramatic monologue" was not in use when the great Victorian dramatic monologues were being written. They were sometimes called "monodramas," which Tennyson defines as works in which successive phases of passion in one person take the place of successive persons. This agrees with the form as invented by Rousseau in Pygmalion (1763) and as practiced in Germany from about 1772 to 1815. It is related to other forms, e.g., the "attitude," in which virtuoso performers attempted to portray rapidly shifting roles through pantomime. Monodrama was introduced into England by William Taylor of Norwich, Dr. Frank Sayers, Southey, and "Monk" Lewis; and Tennyson's Maud, "Locksley Hall," and "Œnone" have some characteristics of the genre. The form arose partly out of the prosopopoeia and should be distinguished from the Browningesque dramatic monologue, where the "drama" is normally between the speaker and the reader rather than between different phases of the speaker's soul.

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