Play Analysis

Analysis: Separation of anything into constituent parts, elements, or components, or an examination of anything to distinguish its parts, separately, or in their relation to the whole (Webster's International Dictionary, 2 ed., 1949).

Play Analysis: Examination of a play to (1) identify its component parts, (2) explain their arrangement, and deduce the meaning that arises from them and their relation to the whole.

Assignment: Write an analysis of one of the assigned plays in essay form. Assume that the reader is familiar with the events and characters of the play, but that he/she has neither analyzed it nor formed conclusions as to its meaning. Cite evidence or examples to support your claims. Include the six essential elements of a play analysis:

  1. PLOT: using the Plot Analysis outline on the back of this page, analyze the plot.
  2. CHARACTERS: using the Character Analysis outline, analyze the characters. For item 1, identify traits, you may substitute the chart of traits found on the second page of "Boxes." Just refer to the chart in your essay.
  3. THOUGHT: Explain the nature of the world created by the playwright. What forces operate in this situation? What does it mean to be a human being in this world? What threatens the characters? What solutions are available? How are problems resolved, if they are resolved at all? What sort of feelings are aroused by these characters, these events?
  4. DICTION (LANGUAGE): Describe the play's language and any "pleasurable accessories" associated with it. Prose or poetry? Poetry: rhymed or unrhymed? metrical or free? imitative of daily speech or highly manipulated? Prose: rhythm imitative of daily speech or highly manipulated? Both: dialect and vocabulary of daily life or elevated/manipulated? relationship of character and diction?
  5. MUSIC: Describe the playwright's choices regarding rhythm, time, and sound. Include examples of rhythmic repetitions of sounds, words, lines, or scenes; hurried or leisurely speech or movement; music or sound effects.
  6. SPECTACLE: Describe important elements of the settings and explain how each should appear to create appropriate mood and atmosphere and assist the communication of idea. Explain whether the setting is necessary or significant to the events or ideas of the play or is merely appropriate background. Describe other important elements of spectacle.

SUMMARY: What does all this add up to? On the basis of the evidence you have described above, explain as fully as you can the meaning (particular point, general truth, argument, or proposition) embodied by the playwright in the selection and arrangement of the materials of this play. R 11/99