A one-act play is a type of play which does not necessarily consist of one act. It is neither an act from full length play. More specifically you can say that the duration of the play may be equal to the time normally required by an act from a full-length play.

A one-act play is an independent as well as a self-sufficient form of art. It also consists of all the elements that you find in a full-length play such as setting, characters, property, stage, conflict, and point of view, theme etc. It also has an organic form with beginning, middle and an end. Unlike a full-length play, the unity of time, place and action do not function fully.

You will see that a one-act play does not have episodic subjects; rather it has a visionary and conceptual unity. It normally represents a single situation, action, and atmosphere leading to deep impression. The characters and the experiences are not complex, you can understand easily.

Since it has a confined canvas, the life experiences it conveys can not be complex and difficult as it happens in a full-length play. The number of characters is bound to be small. Some of the beautiful examples that you will love to read are Donne Byrne’s The Professors, Stanley Houghton’s The Dear Departed, and W. W. Jacobs’s The Monkey’s Paw.

Though the orchestral representation, multidimensional experience, a throbbing effect may not be there in a one-act play, but it certainly has to offer a slice of life as a piece of literature does.

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Toni Morrison’s Beloved – A Novel With Universal Appeal, Depth and Brilliance
By Rakesh Ramubhai Patel

Toni Morrison (1931), an American writer, enjoys a good position as one of the most popular as well as successful black female writers. Her work celebrates the black experience by way of featuring mythic elements, compassion with the humanity in poetic language. Her fifth novel Beloved (1987), which is remarkable for its depth, brilliance and universal appeal, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. She also won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1993.

What is the Novel All About?

The novel Beloved is the story of Sethe, an unfortunate mother who prefers killing her daughter Beloved rather than letting her grown up as a slave.

This tale is set in Reconstruction Ohio. Morrison vividly sketches the dark picture of slavery and its dehumanizing effects with all mental and physical traumas inflicted on the survivals. She beautifully weaves a ghostly stale in a realistic narrative.

Themes in The Novel:

The novel deals with many complex and enduring themes such as black Americans’ relationship to slavery, the quest for individual, cultural identity, the importance of family and community, the nature of humanity. It is because of Morrison’s unique treatment to these themes her work achieve universality.

Morrison’s Style in the Novel:

Beloved is considered as Morrison’s most successful novel. She makes use of multiple timeframe. She beautifully makes a way for the fantastic occurrences in the novel like that of reappearance of Beloved. The language is poetic which shows her lyric storytelling ability very clearly.

Though the novel stimulated considerable controversy, accusations of racism, several months after its publication, it’s a great piece of work one should really appreciate for its merit.

Rakesh Patel is an aspiring poet, freelance writer, self-published author and teacher. Read short poems by Rakesh Patel.

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The literature of the Victorian Age is remarkable for the variety of prose; it produced two great poets, Tennyson and Browning. The literature of this age reflected its interests and problems and therefore, it came very close to the daily life.

The literary tendency of this age is quite ethical in spirit. And therefore all the writers, poets, essayists, and novelists of this age seemed to be moral teachers at heart. Science and discovery also influenced the age which presented truth as the sole object of human endeavor. The age is often considered as materialistic, but the literature is an attack on materialism.

What To Read?

Tennyson
Tennyson, like Chaucer, he was a national poet. Everyone would enjoy reading Tennyson because of his thought and his melody of expression, as it happens in The Lotus Eaters

Music that gentlier on the spirit lies
Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes.

Tennyson’s concept of faith and immortality is well expressed in In Memoriam

Browning
Browning, the optimism of his poetry, his creed as it expressed in Rabbi Ben Ezra is worth reading. If you read Fra Lippo Lippi or Andrea del Sarto, you will know what dramatic monologues are:

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?

Dickens
Dickens’s experiences in life are reflected in his novels. David Copperfield is in this respect shares some autobiographical elements. You can read and make brief analysis of Tale of Two Cities with its plot, characters, and style.

Thackeray
You can read “Henry Esmond” to know Thackeray’s realism. You can also compare it with Ivanhoe as a historical novel. He deals with satire in his writing and has got great skills of critical writer.

George Eliot
If you read Silas Marner, you will learn that George Eliot’s ethical teaching is at the centre in this novel. Her moral teaching is always convincing.

Carlyle
Carlyle is often called prophet and censor. You can read his Essay on Burns, about the Scotch poet, and you will learn his idea of criticism. He is interested in Burns and for his power of lyrical expressions. Also read “Heroes and Hero Worship” to know his idea of history. Sartor Resartus reflects his some of experiences of his own life.

Macaulay
Macaulay’s historical knowledge serves in writing his literary essays. You can read History of England. Also read his essays on Milton and Addison.

Arnold
The elements of Victorian life are reflected in Arnold’s poetry. There is coldness and sadness in his verses. In Sohrab and Rustum, he makes use of classical elements. His poetry and prose both are remarkable.

Ruskin
Ruskin is often considered as “the prophet of modern society”. His first two lectures in Sesame and Lilies give his views on wealth, books, education, labor, woman’s sphere, and human society.

There is a blur differentiating line between reflective and lyrical poetry. It is quite amusing in fact to make a contemplative study of such types of poetry. The whole efforts of this article are geared towards focusing on this very aspect of peeping in to poetry.

The type of poetry that we call lyrics, are basically short and simple. They are direct expressions of the poet’s sentiments, thoughts and feelings. Going back to the ancient Greece, the lyrics were sung to the tune of a musical instrument known as “lyre”. Recently, lyrics are sung with the guitar.

However, there are lyrics you may find inappropriate for singing. Poems such as Pope’s Essay on Man and Wordsworth’s Prelude, are such a long in length that you can not call them lyrics. They are too thoughtful. So, a lyric consists of feeling rather than thought!

Wordsworth’s the Rainbow depicts the beautiful reflection on nature:

“My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began,
So it is now I am a man:
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!”

It is lyrical in real sense of the word which expresses the emotions of joy. If the poet had thought of describing the effects of nature on human beings, it would have been reflective poetry and not lyrical.

Thus, you can lightly make a distinction between the two. Lyric is a sort poem expressing feelings and emotions; on the contrary reflective poem is long and quite thoughtful. Even if the subject matter of lyrical poem is love, there are also the sad topics like fear, hatred and death which are dealt with.

The lyrical temper is almost famous in recent times. For instance, Japanese verse known as “haiku” is also a lyric.  Noteworthy lyrics have been  composed by the poets like Robert Frost, Eliot, W. B. Yeats, e. e. cummings and Dylan Thomas.

The poetry of this age carries forward the tradition established by the seventeenth century poets Milton and Dryden. And therefore, the spirit of classicism develops into full bloom. The poets of this age followed the footsteps of Homer, Aristotle and Dryden.

The note of the poetry of this age is objective and impersonal. Here, a poet is much concerned with the society and is much affected by its imperfections. He poses as a reformer of the society. And therefore, as Dryden did in Absalom and Achitophel and other poetry, the poets of this age also adopt satire to chastise the society. Jonathan swift comes on the surface as on of the greatest satirist in the history of English literature.

The image of natures turns into human nature and the classicism considers the image of man as debased entity, as a fallen angel. Because of the social concern, the poetry of the eighteenth century is drawing room poetry that portrays the picture of urban life.

The poetry of this age is characterized by elegance, decorum and wit. As it is typified in the poetry of Pope, it is polished, formal and unimaginative. The closed couplets are the general usage of this time.

The Revival of Romantic Poetry

It is the eighteenth century where we find the seeds of romanticism. Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, Oliver Goldsmith’s Deserted Village, Burke’s poetry, Blake’s mystical poetry all are stepping stone to romantic poetry.

The romantic revival took place with Victor Hugo’s concept “liberalism in literature”. The Romantic Movement is marked by the following:

1.    Strong reaction against the bondage of rule and customs
2.    Call back to nature.
3.    Emphasis on the eternal ideas of youth and appeals to human hearts.
4.    Intense human sympathy – understanding of human heart
5.    The interest in the old sagas and medieval romances

Spenser, Shakespeare and Milton were the inspirational source behind this romantic revival. We cannot find a single poetry of this age where there is no influence of these poets.

Thomas Gray’s following poem is full of gentle melancholy which marks the early romantic poetry.

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day;
The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea;
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinkling lull the distant folds.

Oliver Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village (1770) glorifies the superiority of agriculture to trade in the national economy. It is a pastoral lyric which glorifies the ecstasy of beholding the joy of peasantry.

The poet revisits Auburn, a village hallowed by the early associations. What he sees is its depopulation and the monopolizing riches, which have driven the peasants to emigration. He laments over the state of society where “wealth accumulates and men decay”. This is a sad impact of urbanization.

The poem The Deserted Village contains charming descriptions of village-life. The poem uses simple diction and melodious versifications. In the poem, sometimes we see proverbial or epigrammatic touch as in the following line:

Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates and men decay

Some of the inset pictures of the village characters are sketched with affection for instance the account of the village school masters. There are serious portraits such as the accounts of the dispossessed emigrant poor and the “poor houseless shivering female” betrayed by a rich man which is quite sentimental.

The poem contains a note of pathos and the agony of eighteen years is well expressed. The poet hopes that at some time, he might return in his village to die amid the scenes of his childhood and he admits, “I still had hopes.” It is Goldsmith’s happy and satisfied rural community that inspired a protest in Crabbe’s The Village.

The essay as a literary form had been invented by Montaigne soon before Bacon adopted it, but it is the essays alone which gave Bacon his fame in the world of literature.    The essays of Bacon normally fall into three great principles;

  1. Man in relation to the World and Society;
  2. Man in relation to himself;
  3. Man in relation to his Maker and Unseen World.

Most of Bacon’s essays fall in the first category. The first category consists of ‘empire’, ‘Great Place’, ‘Plantation’, ‘Gardens’, ‘Parents and Children’ etc. The second one comprises essays on ‘Wisdom’, ‘Ambition’, ‘Revenge’, ‘Adversity’, ‘Honor and Reputation’ etc. The third group consists of ‘Death’, ‘Atheism’, ‘Superstition’, ‘Prophecies’, ‘Unity in Religion’ etc.

Bacon, the Father of the English Essay:

It was Bacon who had written essays first in the language of England. Bacon is also considered as the first of the aphoristic writers of the English essay. His English is always tense and packed with thought. For example, the first line of his essay Of Revenge: “Revenge is a wild kind of justice”. This is one of the aphoristic remarks that decorate every page of this book of Bacon. Each sentence can be expressed into a paragraph and even into an essay.

Bacon’s Style in his Essays:

The sentences of Bacon’s essays are short. He is in the habit of quoting often from Latin authors. Bacon is considered to be the most learned man of the Elizabethan age.

Bacon made use of simile and metaphor. They are introspective and telling. Here are some of them:

  • Man fear death, as children fear to go in the dark;
  • Suspicions are amongst thoughts what bats are amongst birds: they fly best by twilight.
  • The way of the fortune is like the milken way in the sky;
  • Beauty is as summer fruits which are easy to corrupt and cannot last; …
  • Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested…

Bacon acknowledged the Renaissance idea that it is life on earth that is important and that all studies have to be directed to improving that life. This is exactly what his essays do.