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It is true that Castelvetro, in spite of his talk about the actual stage, knew quite as little about it as any of his contemporaries. Yet he declares it to be the duty of the dramatist to please the spectators, of whatever sort, and to consult always their capabilities. He has no high opinion of the intelligence of these spectators, believing that they cannot imagine a lapse of time or a change of scene.
At least, he suggests that they would be annoyed if the action was not confined to one day and contained in one place. And his own logic breaks down when he convinces himself that the spectators cannot imagine two or three places in turn, just as well as one at a time, and that they are not ready to let the author pack into the three-hours traffic of the stage the events, not of twenty-four hours only, but of twelve months or more. He does not grasp the conventions which must underlie every art, and which alone make an art possible.
Every artist must be allowed to depart frankly from the merely actual, if he is to please us by his representation of life as he apprehends it. Probably the Unity of Place would not have taken its position by the side of the Unity of Time and the Unity of Action, if it had not seemed to be supported by the practice of the Greek dramatic poets.
In the surviving specimens of Attic drama there are a few instances where the action is apparently transported from one spot to another. But in the immense majority of the Athenian pieces which have come down to us we note that the story begins and ends in the same place.
And the reason for this is not far to seek. The Greek drama had been evolved out of the lyrics of the chorus; and to the end of the Athenian period the chorus continued to be a most important element of a tragic performance. When the chorus had once circled into the orchestra, it generally remained there until the end of the tragedy. Now, this presence of the chorus before the eyes of the spectators prevented the dramatist from shifting the location of his action even if he had desired to do so.
He could ask his audience to imagine a change of place only when the orchestra was empty, which was very rarely the case. Furthermore, we must keep in mind the fact that the theatre at Athens was in all probability devoid of scenery, and that therefore there was no way of visibly indicating a change of place. This, then, is the theory of the three unities, long credited to the great Greek critic, but now seen to have been worked out by the supersubtle Italian critics of the Renascence.
Indeed, there is little exaggeration in saying that they evolved it from their inner consciousness. VI For two centuries and more this law of the three unities, and also the other rules elaborated at the same time by the same Italians, were accepted throughout Europe by almost every critic of the drama. This body of laws was supposed to be supported by the inexpugnable authority of Aristotle; but it was also believed to have its basis in reason.
It dominated the drama of France until early in the nineteenth century; and even if Corneille now and again chafed under it, Voltaire was insistent in supporting it. Yet it was not obeyed by the popular playwrights of Spain, not even by Lope, who frankly declared that he knew better than he practiced. And it was absolutely rejected by the Elizabethan dramatists in England, excepting only Ben Jonson. And this raises two interesting questions. If the code of correctness, including the rule calling for the preservation of the three unities, was accepted by all those who discussed the art of the drama, why did the practical playwrights of England refuse to be bound by its behests?
And why did the practical playwrights of France submit to be cribbed, cabined, and confined by its restrictions? The most obvious explanation is to be found in the fact that the great expansion of the drama arrived in France at least half a century later than it had in Spain and in England. Indeed, this is the excuse which Lope de Vega makes for himself in his significant address on the New Art of Writing Plays.
While this may have been the main motive of the chief of the Spanish playwrights, there is no difficulty in surmising that the chief of the English dramatic poets had a better reason for rejecting the law of the three unities, and for refusing to submit himself to its chains.
Shakespeare was preeminently a practical man, with a keen eye to the main chance. Now, character is not modified in the twinkling of an eye, nor can it disintegrate in twenty-four hours. This concentration of action into the culminating moments of the story was not a disadvantage to the Greek dramatic poets, since they were expected to present a trilogy, three separate plays acted in swift succession on the same day to the same audience, whereby they were enabled to show the tragic hero at three different moments of his career.
But the obligation to preserve the Unity of Time was a sad restriction upon the French dramatic poets, who had not the privilege of the trilogy, and who were compelled always to present characters fixed and unchanging. By his compulsory obedience to this rule Corneille was robbed of not a little of his possible range and sweep, although Racine, with his subtlety of psychologic analysis, may even have gained by an enforced compacting of his story and by a limitation to its culminating moments.
Shakespeare did not care to discuss the principles of his craft, as Ben Jonson was wont to do. He digressed in Hamlet into a disquisition on the art of acting; but he nowhere expressed his personal opinions on the art of playwriting. He was no more a theatrical reformer than he was a dramatic theorist.
He was content to take the stage as he found it, and to utilize all its conventions, and all its contemporary traditions. But it is unimaginable that he did not know what he was doing, or that he was ignorant of these theories. It is most unlikely that in his maturity, and when he and Ben Jonson were engaging in their wit-combats at the Mermaid, he had not had occasion to hear the whole code of the drama proclaimed again and again by his robust and scholarly friend.
The Unity of Place required that the action should be confined to a single place, but place was interpreted liberally. A single place meant one palace or one town, not necessarily a specific room in this palace or a specific house in this town. It meant a single locality, but not a single spot. The action of Every Man in his Humor passes in London, which is a single locality, but it is not restricted to a single room or even to a single house in that city.
The Tempest sets before us, as Professor Lounsbury has pointed out, a single story, direct and swift and uncomplicated; and therefore it preserves the Unity of Action. It is compassed within a single revolution of the sun, as the author takes care to tell us more than once; and therefore it preserves the Unity of Time. It has for its locality an island with the waters immediately surrounding that island ; and therefore it preserves the Unity of Place as that was then liberally interpreted. I can play this game as well as any of you.
And if I have not been willing to play it hitherto, that is not from any ignorance of the rules, but simply because I did not deem the game worth the candle! That both the English and the Spanish dramatic poets refused to abide by them is equally evident. And this brings up again the question why the doctrine of the unities should have been accepted willingly by the professional playwrights of France after it had been rejected by the professional playwrights of England and of Spain.
One answer to this query has already been suggested,— that the out flowering of dramatic poetry was later in France than in England or in Spain, and therefore after the doctrine of the three unities had hardened into a dogma. Another answer might be, that the French are the inheritors of the Latin tradition, that they like to do things decently and in order, and that they relish restraint more than the English or the Spaniards.
We might go further and say that the French are naturally the most artistic of the three races, and that to an artist there is always a keen joy in working under bonds and in grappling with self-imposed obligations. But there is a third explanation of the apparent anomaly, which comes nearest to being adequate. VII The drama of every modern literature is the outgrowth of the drama of the Middle Ages, — of the passionplay, and of the popular farce.
But the development from this unliterary folkdrama into true tragedy and true comedy is different in the different countries; and it is only by tracing back this evolution in France that we can lay hold of the chief reason why the Unity of Place was accepted in France even though it had been rejected in England, where the theatre had followed a slightly different line of development. The full-grown passion-play was the result of putting together the several episodes of the gospel-story, which had been shown in action in the church on different days, more especially Christmas and Easter, as an accompaniment of the service.
Each of these episodes had been set forth in the most appropriate part of the edifice, — the Holy Child in the manger on the chancelsteps, the Raising of Lazarus near the crypt, the Crucifixion near the altar. In other words, all the important places in the play were set on the stage at once, each coming into use in its turn and as often as need be, while most of the acting was done in the neutral ground further forward on the platform. In time, dramatizations of the lives of the saints followed the dramatization of the life of Christ; and after a while these were succeeded by dramatizations of the lives of heroes, at first of history, and afterward of romance.
Thus the sacred drama gave way to the profane, which had been slowly developed out of it. However incongruous this simultaneous set may seem to us, accustomed as we are nowadays to a succession of sets, it was familiar to French audiences, and acceptable to them well into the seventeenth century. But in time its disadvantages became more and more obvious. The spectators who had not found it hard to follow the wellknown Bible story, and to identify the Temple at Jerusalem, the House of the High-Priest, and the other mansions it demanded, began to be a little confused when Hardy put before them unknown stories acted amid mansions only summarily indicated by the carpenter and decorator.
Hardy cluttered the stage with all sorts of strange places, bringing together in one play a ship, a palace, a bedroom, and a cave on a mountain; and the audience had to strain its ingenuity to recognize all these localities. It was for a stage thus fitted up that Corneille composed the Cid, the action of which takes place in a neutral ground, backed by the residences of the chief characters.
When he wrote this play he had never even heard of the doctrine of the unities, which had been ignored by the Spanish dramatist from whom he borrowed his plot. He soon found himself severely criticised for his ignorance of the rules of the drama; and, although his play was overwhelmingly successful, he confessed his error. In all his following plays he preserved the Unity of Place, discarding the medley of mansions that he had employed freely in his earlier pieces; and we cannot doubt that this simplification of the scenery on the stage was most welcome to the spectators, who were no longer forced to guess at the significance of accumulated bits of scenery.
And so powerful was the prestige of Corneille that his contemporaries and his successors followed his example, and showed one action in one place in one day. You cannot show that hero's childhood or action that is done previously. If author wants to say something from hero's past then he must use course. Now a days when we talk about movie and series we can see that they use flashback technique to show action done in past. They can show like this because things are recorded.
But when we talk about the classical for them using this type of technique is difficult because their audience is live. What ever happening is in front of audience not in front of camera. When this things is done by camera it is easy to use this technique. Because it is easy to show when audience is live. The unity of time supposed action to duration roughly of a single day. The example of Aristotle concept can be seen in comparison between epic Beowulf and tragedy Macbeth.
The action on Beowulf takes place in span of well over five years. We can see that when Beowulf is first introduce he is in Daneland to help Hrothgar rid Hearot of Grendel. After successfully defeating Grendel he rules over there five year. And when we talk about Macbeth we cam see that audience does not give specific time line. This audience can only assume that correct action goes in Malcolm and Donalbain to travel England and Ireland.
The play does not name anytime it could be seen as one continued action. Limiting the action of the play like giving your self as a writer a time limit by which to resolve your story. Though the unity of time is useful there are successful plays which do not follow Unity of time. That time there is no recording like we have now a days.
We also have to remember that if the place change so many times then they have to change background according to place. So, change settings so many times is also difficult for crew member as well as actor to ready according to place and thing.
So, if the place is one it is easy to perform. When we talk about Aristotle we have see that he never mentioned the unity of place. The doctrine of three unities which has figured so much in literary criticism. Renaissance cannot be paid to his account. He is not the author of it, it was foisted in on him by the Renaissance critic of France and Italy. In the transaction period the stage must be transferred from one place into another causes an interruption in action, flow, and pacing of the story, sometime pulling audience, member out of the story.
Seeing set pieces and furniture moved by stage hands and actors breaks the willing suspension of disbelief for some audience and remind them that they are seeing a play Instead of seeing a slice of reality behind an invisible fourth well. Unity of place is less expensive and easier to physically manage. Example of play which follow all three Unity : Odious Rex is best example because it follows all three unities. It follows Unity of time because the events of the play within the time span of one day.
The action which take place in past are reported by messenger. So, we can say that it follows Unity of time. It follows Unity of place because everything happens in the palace steps. If Oedipus wants to speak with anyone who is not present like Teiresias they sent at the palace. So, we can say that Unity of place is followed in play. Unity of action is followed because whatever happens in a play is related with Oedipus himself. Oedipus and his immediate investigation into Laius's murder and then his own history and parentager.
We do not find any subplot in a play. So, we can say that the play follow the unity of action. Through this we can say that Oedipus Rex is best example of three unities which is follows all this unities. Conclusion : This three unities are rules for drama derived from a passage In Aristotle poetics.
This unities are followed by so many writer and plays.
The "Unities" Roman theatre, Kermessos. Photograph Peter Smith. Greek and Latin plays were very different from the native traditions of drama that the young Shakespeare might have come across if he had seen a mystery cycle , or watched the travelling troupes of actors who came to Stratford, performing moralities or the various types of drama which developed from them. Greek and Latin drama were strict in form.
The stage represented a single place throughout the action; the plot recounted the events of a single day; and there was very little irrelevant by-play as the action developed. Aristotle described the drama of an earlier age in his important work On the Art of Poetry ; those who followed his precepts called this disciplined structure the three "unities": unity of place, unity of time and unity of action.
The "Rules" Neo-classical Renaissance critics codified Aristotle's discussion, claiming that all plays should follow these three precepts: Place. Aristotle did not mention about unity of place in his Poetics. We will discuss all three dramatic unities in detail. Unity of Action Unity of action is the basic element of a tragedy. Aristotle focused on unity of action more than on any other unity. Aristotle focused on organic unity. In a tragedy, there are number of incidents and events or episodes.
All events of the tragedy should be in a logical sequence like beginning, middle and the end. Hence the error, as it appears, of all poets who have composed a Heracleid or other poems of kind. They imagine that as Heracles was one man, the story of Heracles must also be a unity.
The success or failure of a tragedy depends on unity of action. If the plot is loose and events are not in proper order, reader will not be able to comprehend the main theme of the tragedy. Unity of time Unity of time means a limited period of time that takes a play to be performed on a stage. The actions of a tragedy were performed in a single day during Greek era. Aristotle also stated that tragedy should be limited to a single revolution of a sun.
The tradition of the interlude developed by John Heywood and others, blended with that of Latin classic comedy, eventually producing the great Elizabethan comedy, which reached its highest expression in the plays of Shakespeare and Ben Jonson. Shakespeare , whose comedies ranged from the farcical to the tragicomic, was the master of the romantic comedy, while Jonson, whose drama was strongly influenced by classical tenets, wrote caustic, rich satire. The works of William Shakespeare were divided into three categories — comedies, tragedies and histories.
Comedy Plays brought massive audiences to the theatre. Globe Theatre actors specialized in performing in comedy plays. These comedians not only required acting skills but were also expected to be able to sing and dance.
Plays at the Globe Theatre usually ended with songs and dance. There were two species of comedy which particularly disturbed prevailing political and religious mores in Elizabethan England: satire and Ovidian comedy. It will then become easy for us to distinguish Shakespearean comedy from the rest. The general perception of a comic play is that it ends happily for the protagonists and also have elements that may produce laughter.
This perception is very close to Shakespearean Comedy. But for the sake of keeping ourself within the scope of this article, we may broadly classify comic plays into Classical comedy and Romantic comedy. Classical comedy Classical comedy strictly follows the rule laid down by ancient Greek and Roman. The main features of Classical comedies are: Unity of time, place and action. No mix of the comic and tragic element. It aims at everyday life and realism.
Ridicule and satirize human folly or vices. Romantic Comedy Romantic Comedy does not follow the rules of classical comedy. It is written according to what suits the fancy of the writer. Shakespearean Comedy is essentially a Romantic Comedy. Shakespeare broke all rules of comic plays and wrote what suited his style and fancy.
Shakespeare mingled happy and sad theme, mixed comic elements with tragic elements. This made his plays appear more convincing because no human life is completely tragic or completely comic.
The Duke of Venice, Emilia, Roderigio, and Brabiantio were four other minor characters in Othello. The Duke of Venice was a wise man who had power, he cared about a person's . A. Strict adherence to neoclassical unities of time, place, and action. A. The name given for the elaborate costume worn in French plays set in the classical period. B. The title of the most . The classical unities, Aristotelian unities, or three unities represent a prescriptive theory of dramatic tragedy that was introduced in Italy in the 16th century and was influential for three .