How To Analyse Drama Texts

Updated: Apr 5, 2019

With exams coming up, I thought I’d do another post on how to analyse unseen texts. This time, how to analyse form, language and structure in drama texts/plays. Hopefully these will give you an idea of what to look out for when analysing a text for the first time.


Form:

  • What type of play is it, e.g. morality, mystery, tragedy, comedy, melodrama, naturalistic, etc. - What does this say about the text?

  • Consider the audience – How would it be received to audiences today? How would it have been received to audiences of the time?

Language:

  • Analyse the language – Is it colloquial, dramatic, etc.? What does this suggest?

  • Consider actions within the text, e.g. singing, dancing, music – What effect does this have?

  • Does the text include similes and metaphors?

  • Is there any personification or pathetic fallacy?

  • Is there any repetition? Does this create tension, or add force to an argument?

  • Is there any symbolism? What does this imply?

  • Consider the setting – What does it suggest about the play’s aim?

  • Analyse the sentences, and the sentence length – Are they long? Or are they short and dramatic? Do they create tension?

  • Are there any monologues or soliloquys? Why has the playwright done this? What effect does this create?

  • Tone – Is it ironic, comedic, satire?

  • Are there any biblical references? Or does a certain theme stand out to you? Why do you think the playwright has done this?

  • Tense – Past, present or future?

  • Consider characterisation – Use of names? What do the character’s personalities and attitudes suggest?

  • Character’s speech patterns – Is the speech cyclical and repetitive? How does it show emotion?

  • Analyse the stage directions – How do they add to the mood and atmosphere?

Structure:

  • Does the text have a dramatic opening or ending? What does this imply?

  • Does it have a pivotal movement? – A crucial or significant event which creates a change in the text?

  • Is there any juxtaposition or contrast within the text?

  • Are there any symbols and motifs?

  • Analyse the character’s actions – Consider the use of props and stage directions

  • Look at the interactions between characters – Consider when they enter and exit the stage, and their language to each other, what does this suggest?

  • Consider how many characters are on stage at any one time? Is there only one person? What effect does this create?

These are just some ideas that I use to analyse to drama texts. Feel free to comment below if you’d like to add some of your own. I hope this helped you, and I wish you the best of luck with your exams!


Good luck,

Sophie x




Note: This picture belongs to Wix.

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