Elements of Drama

Drama is widely defined as a composition in prose form that communicates a story entirely in dialogues and actions. Being in a two-fold nature – literature and theater, it is written with the intention of its eventual performance before an audience. Common types of drama include:

  • Tragedy is a play in which the main character is brought to ruin or suffering of a great sorrow. It raises vital points about man, his existence, his moral nature, and his social and psychological relationships.
  • Comedy is a play that brings laughter where the main character leaps over all difficulties placed on his way and ultimately achieves his goal notwithstanding awkwardness. Its stroke is based on some divergence from customariness or familiarity in the different elements.
  • Melodrama is drawn from tragedy and characterized as something overstated which concentrates on actions. It deals with stern feat and concludes in a happy resolution. It is thus achieved when the power of the villain is neutralized or combated.
  • Farce is a play that brings laughter for the sake of laughter, usually making use of grossly embellished events and characters. Unlikely plots and entertaining characterizations are usually used for such stimulation.

All elements of drama should harmonize together to make a good written literary work, as well as its production. While several technical elements are required in the actual production, the following are the basic elements of drama which are most likely associated to the writing of the piece.

  1. Setting identifies the time and place in which the events unfold. It consists of the historical period, the moment, day, and season when incidents take place. It also includes the scenery in the performance which is usually found in the preliminary descriptions.
  2. Characters comprise of people in the play and thus, are considered as the principal material in a drama. The following are the necessary character aspects:
    • Physical Aspects identify peripheral facts such as age, sexual orientations, size, race, and color. These aspects deal with external attributes which may be envisaged from the description of the playwright or deduced from what the characters say or what other characters verbalize about their appearance.
    • Social Aspects embrace all aspects that can be gleaned from the characters’ world or environment as exemplified by the economic status, occupation or trade, creed, and familial affiliation of the characters.
    • Psychological Aspects disclose the inner mechanisms or the minds of the characters as exemplified by the habitual responses, attitudes, longings, purposes, likes, and dislikes. These are considered the most indispensable level of character categorization because routines and emotions, thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors enable the readers and audience to know the characters intrinsically.
    • Moral Aspects disclose the decisions of the characters, either socially acceptable or not, exposing their intentions, thus projecting what is upright or not.
  3. Plot lays out the series of events that form the entirety of the play. It serves as a structural framework that brings these events to a coherent and cohesive form and sense. Drama plots may either be natural or episodic.
    • Natural Plot is a chronological sequence of events arrangement where actions continuously take place as an end-result of the previous actions.
    • Episodic Plot is made up of series of episodes where the story builds up and characters interrelate cohesively as the theme develops. Each episode independently comprises a setting, climax, and resolution; therefore, a full story itself is formed.
  4. Theme is considered as the unifying element that defines the dramatized idea of the play. It is the overall sense or implications of the actions. It defines the problem, emphasizes the ethical judgement and suggests attitude of the course of action that eliminates the crisis in an acceptable way.
  5. Style refers to the mode of expression or presentation of the play which points out the playwright’s position or viewpoint in life.


Rodil, R., Cuntapay, M., Nanquil, L., & Garay, G. (2014). Heritage of world literature. Mandaluyong City. Books Atbp. Publishing Corp.