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Domestic drama expresses and focuses on the realistic everyday lives of middle or lower classes in a certain society, generally referring to the post-Renaissance eras. According to the English Communications Syllabus, domestic drama refers to a dramatic story containing an emphasis on its “characters' intimate relationships and their responses to [the] unfolding events in their lives.” The characters, their lives, and the events that occur within the show are usually classified as 'ordinary' events, lives, and characters, but this does not limit the extent of what domestic drama can represent. Domestic drama does, however, take the approach in which it “concerns people much like ourselves, taken from the lower and middle classes of society, who struggle with everyday problems such as poverty, sickness, crime, and family strife.” One scholar suggests that domestic drama is possibly one third of the plays being written.
Domestic is derived from the Latin domus, or home. The word domestic is defined as “of or relating to the household.” Drama receives the definition of “A prose or verse composition, especially one telling a serious story, that is intended for representation by actors impersonating the characters and performing the dialogue and action,” and it is derived from the Greek word drao, to act or to take action. The combination of both domestic and drama provides a literal translation of “a serious story relating to the household,” clearly a synonymous definition to the given definition provided by the English Communications Syllab
Dramatic works have nearly always contained a sense of domestic drama within its fundamental plot line. Even in the early ages of Greek drama, there has been a sense of ordinary people's struggles with their lives (though this cannot be classified as domestic drama due to the incorporation of the Greek gods interfering with the common people and the enabling of the common people to have “godlike” attributes). Medieval theatre tended to express religious themes within their shows with miracles and the creation of morality plays, in which the shows were used as religious allegories. Though not yet emphasizing the ordinary lives, the development of dramatic works is slowly working towards more realistic plot lines, one of the essential elements in domestic drama. Renaissance theatre marks the arrival of pastoral drama, drama referring to the relationships of the rustics. Though this describes the events of 'ordinary people', the shows tended to stretch realism, focussed mainly on the romantic relationships of the rustics, and were decorated with an emphasis on the comedic aspect of theater. Pastoral drama was considered to be more successful than the traditional comedies and tragedies, enforcing the further development into domestic drama.
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