Friday, November 12, 2010

The significance of ideals expressed in such 19th century British plays like The inchcape bell (1828) and The pirates of penzance () can take into account both the valuational and epistemological implications of the term “ideals.” Values expressed by individual characters cause the plot to move forward and realize or represent individual ideals on stage in meaningful moments for the audience. (Such moments stand out as the truth content of actions on stage.) In them, individual ideals subsumed in the structure of plays under the requirement of scenic representation become validated (or invalidated). But audiences look at stories staged through their own separate set of ideals, in which the theater can represent something else/more than an impersonal and perfect mirror held to the world and its functioning. Thus, by analyzing metatheatricality what in The pirates of penzance appears as a structure of dialectical recuperation for the ideals expressed in earlier nautical burlettas like The inchcape bell, a valuational and epistemological analysis of ideals is possible, because through these techniques of creative assimilation The Inchcape Bell and The pirates of penzance can test playfully and openly the transposition of individual ideals into collective ideals, as well as the limits within which ideals can evolve in a popular genre like melodrama, from which the plays analyzed derive their techniques of internalizing the ethical validity of ideals against their factual validity.

The controversial rise of melodrama as a new genre of theater in London at the beginning of the 19th century afforded playwrights an optimal chance to invest, and investigate, collective wish images. They were derived through a combination of high and low theater, and could address both the “overwhelming misfortunes of the great” and “the frailties and follies … of the lower orders of society,” according to a contemporary commentator (qt. in Hadley, 65). The hybridism of melodrama is thus a new rule under a unified morality, in which the new is permeated with the old, and the affirmation of individual values changes the formal features of dramaturgy.
In his survey The Melodramatic imagination, Peter Brooks claims that “our clearest indication of the issues at stake in melodrama” needs to be lifted from this genre’s specific mode of operation, “which tends toward … spectacular moments of public homage to virtue and its effects” (26). The “spectacular” appears thus as a subcategory of the “public” element in melodrama; in this way a literary historical analysis of the genre can contain/frame the melodramatic tendency for excessive representation, and read into this imaginary paradigm a recurring but temporary significance of its specific set of ideals, especially in a context limited to the significance of ideals expressed.

“scriitorii de melodrama”