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Sentimental Drama

  While sentiment, in its modern sense, may be found in all forms of drama and theatre, Sentimental Drama was a specifically 18th-century European form in which, as Oliver Goldsmith put it, ‘the virtues of private life are exhibited, rather than the vices exposed’. (‘Sentiment’ at this period meant ‘feeling’ or ‘sensibility’.) While many of the plays were nominally comic, the characters tended to be dull and priggish, the plots bathetic and the language stilted. Despite this, it was popular with the rising middle-class audience, especially in Germany, France and Britain, because it tended to treat them seriously in ways which neither comedy nor tragedy did. For all its dramatic ineptness (at least from today\'s perspective) it is important in theatre-historical terms, as it marks an important stage in the development of serious prose drama. TRG SS

See also bourgeois drama; carnival.Further reading A. Sherbo, English Sentimental Drama.



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