chapter  II
12 Pages

The mode of the dramatist

Our conclusions suggest that the most direct way to an understanding of the nature of drama may be in the study of character and that it is the dramatist's approach to and universal sympathy with his characters that leads him to those methods of communication that distinguish his art from all others. It may be that after considering this we shall find confirmation from other aspects of a work of dramatic art (such as the plot, or arrangement of the incidents) and of the dramatists' technique as it is here revealed. For we remember, too, that Aristotle says plainly that the plot is the first essential.! But though Aristotle's claim may be true of the initial inspiration, of which some critics believe him to be speaking here,2 the common reader's response to the resultant work of art appears to reverse this order and approach instinctively through character. Perhaps .the present generation of readers is particularly ready to take this road; given our prepossessions, our immediate tradition in Shakespeare criticism and the habits this has bred, the most familiar way into the understanding of a play is by what we call character. This happens to be the gate near which the greater number of us dwell.