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.

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 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.

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.

A poem is a literary form composed in verse. It normally gives account of personal feelings, emotions and imagination.

Let’s enjoy the following poem:

The Butterfly

There is no story behind it.
It is split like a second.
It hinges around itself.

It has no future.
It is pinned down to no past.
It’s a pun on the present.

It’s a little yellow butterfly.
It has taken these wretched hills
under its wings.

Just a pinch of yellow,
it opens before it closes
and closes before it o

where is it.

Arun Kolatkar, an Indian poet wrote about the place- Jejuri, a temple town. Jejuri is a poor place and the hills in Jejuri show the barrenness of the place. His style is simple (English) in contrast with Mahapatra where he uses English and his ideas very effectively.

Whatever he sees in Jejury they have a story of their own. The poet says there is no story behind the butterfly, the very being he gets us acquainted with in this poem. The idea of “split like a second” is applied to the butterfly. The butterfly is in two parts, a split, hinges around itself. It has no future and is said to be “pinned down to no past”. Because the creatures never think about their past and they don’t have future. They live in the present and that becomes the “pun on the present”, the pun on the entire mankind who has lost the sense of living in the present! It creates a beautiful picture as if the wretched hills are under wings of a little yellow butterfly. Its wings open before they close and close before they open and lo! It’s gone like a beautiful moment!

Literature is a mode of writing that expresses thoughts, feelings and attitudes towards life. There are certain characteristics that make it literature and differentiate from other modes of writing.

Literature can be differentiated from the writing of advertising or journalistic writing. These sorts of writings are meant to be read for few days and not for years. Literature at the other hand can be for forever. It is the quality of ‘permanence’ that gave Shakespeare’s writing enjoyable even today. Literature should ‘hold mirror up to nature’ or should offer ‘criticism of life’ as his writing did. Therefore, a writer is expected to impart his feelings and experiences so that common man can identify with them.

There is not a subject remained untouched by writers. The universal themes such as life, death and love have been all time favorite with writers. For this reason, it is not possible to find new subject. This gives a raise to another quality for literature called ‘originality’. Poets or writers take a subject and give their touch of imagination and craftsmanship. They go on exploring new ways of dealing with the same subjects differently. This becomes their originality. The writing of shakespeare deals with these life-love-death theme but his originality and his unique treatment made his writing immortal.

Literature is therefore, a way of expressing thoughts, feelings, experiences and ideas in words. The main purpose of it is to provide entertainment and pleasure, not merely information. It requires a craftsmanship to produce the best sort of literature.

‘English Literature’ phrase is uncertain and therefore it is difficult to define. Basically, it means literature written in the English language. But this understanding is partial as there are English-speaking countries like India, Africa have contributed largely to what is known as English literature.