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Silence on the Stage.

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Silence on the Stage. In drama, a character on stage always serves a purpose. The space is far too valuable to waste with a useless character. Most often, a character's purpose is to deliver lines, whether they are dialogue, soliloquy, narration, or other forms of dramatic speech. These lines may advance the plot, reveal character, establish a setting and countless other possibilities. However, characters on the stage do not always speak. This does not mean that they are without purpose. A silent character can be used by the playwright in many of the same ways as one that dominates a scene. Often these characters make more of an impression than those who are speaking. In the plays Trifles, by Susan Glaspell, and The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams, the playwrights have characters on the stage that speak very little in scenes of the plays. The effect of these characters is very strong in both to establish the setting and atmosphere of the play. Trifles is set in the house of a murdered man and his wife, suspected as the killer. Entering are the County Attorney, the Sheriff, Lewis Hale, who found the dead body, the Sheriff's wife and Hale's wife. The County Attorney and the Sheriff are looking for clues to help solve the mystery. ...read more.


In the third part of the play, the men return from upstairs and the women once again become silent. Although part of this is for the same reasons as the first part, where the women aren't supposed to speak, it also means more. They do not share with the men the evidence that they discovered about the canary and the knitting. If they told them, the men would have the evidence needed to prove Mrs. Wright's guilt. It would be "some definite thing. Something to show - something to make a story about - a thing that would connect this strange way of doing it -." They don't tell them though; instead they just exchange a glance, remaining quiet. It is a nonverbal agreement to keep quiet. Their silence is almost a defiance of the men. Their silence is what the men usually demand of them, but here, ironically, it is stopping them from solving the case. The women are also sticking up for their fellow woman by not talking. They understand the situation that she must have been in to go so far as to kill her husband. It could be characterized as passive resistance. While they are still being censored, they are no longer portrayed as being dominated by the men. ...read more.


All she had was a fantasy world and even that is now destroyed. Tom is also left speechless. We know that he cares for his sister, and that he wants to say something in apology, but their relationship has deteriorated so much and their situation has grown so grim that he can't even do that. In much the same way that he wishes he could solve the family's problems, he wishes he could say something to help his sister cope with the accident, but he is helpless, in both cases. Many times, silence can be more effective than noise. The calm before a storm, the solitude of an area far from civilization, and the void of deep space are examples of silence that seem far more dramatic than any noise could be. So too, can silence be dramatic on the stage, when characters in scenes refrain from speaking. In Trifles, it silence that shows the women's subordinate position in society and later, their rebellion against it. In The Glass Menagerie, it is the silence of certain characters that expresses the pathetic state of the household, and the helplessness of those living in it. Had the playwrights chosen to have the characters say everything that is expressed in their silence, the dramatic effect could not be equal. Hendrik deBoer 4 ...read more.

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