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David Kinder

on 21 May 2013

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2011 melodrama extremes of emotion question Writing Introductions "A melodramatic genre, where extremes of emotion have disastrous consequences."

How far do you agree with this view of writing in the gothic tradition? melodrama is to tragedy what farce is to comedy - the characters are quite flat - the hero is great-hearted, the heroine is as pure as the driven snow, and the villain is a monster of malignity.

None of 'our' texts conform completely to this! They are too interesting for that and go further! "A melodramatic genre" In Wuthering Heights:

Heathcliff and Catherine's passionate love destroys
them both and, in the second half, brings down others
with it. It is a study of an extreme passion and it's often so absurd as to be melodramatic - 'Nelly, I am
Heathcliff... He's always, always in my soul'

But... it's too complex to be ultimately melodramatic and, in the end, the cycle of extremity is broken... "where extremes of emotion have
disastrous consequences" Lady Macbeth and, prompted by her, Macbeth himself, have an desire for power, which is emotive and extreme - for examples the scenes where she is prompting him to murder. Some of her villainy is quite melodramatic.

Murder is the consequence, tragically so in the case of Macduff's wife and children and the king himself.
Macbeth Title story: the Marquis is a figure from
melodrama - a classic aristocratic villain.

He has a perverted (extreme?) love for the
girl - sadistic, about possession.

But consequences are not disastrous for the heroine.
Story is an exploration of patriarchal power,
aguably - too complex for melodrama
The Bloody Chamber The question was... Ultimately good does prevail, however and the complexity of Lady Macbeth as a character, and the use of a female villain, is not melodramatic. So here's the possible opening paragraph:-

There are undoubtedly examples of extreme emotion in Wuthering Heights, Macbeth and The Bloody Chamber, all of which have terrible results. Catherine and Heathcliff’s extreme form of passionate love destroys them both, bringing down many of those around them. Macbeth and particularly Lady Macbeth’s singular desire for power result in murder and tragic destruction. In the title story of The Bloody Chamber the Marquis’s extreme, possessive version of love, his desire to dominate the girl bring her to the brink of execution. All of these scenes have melodramatic elements in the sense that the villainy in Macbeth is stark and simplistic, the passion in Wuthering Heights is often almost laughably hyperbolic and the Marquis has the features of a traditional aristocratic villain who appears to enjoy his power over his female victims. That said, all these texts are exploring dark psychological states in too complex a way to be truly melodramatic and in all cases disaster is either avoided at the last minute or, in the case of Macbeth, is followed by the restoration of order.
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