Thursday, December 1, 2011

Drama: Four essential elements in Drama

 Four Conditions Essential to Any Drama
1.      An unresolved issues with the outcome in doubt
2.      A deep commitment to action by character with whom we can identify with
3.      The character must be involved in a conflict at which has, at its heart, high personal stake.
4.      Urgency or a sense of deadline.

Braveheart was made in 1995 based on life story of 13th century knight Sir William Wallace set on the backdrop of Scottish fight for the independence against King Edward I of England infamously known as Longshank.  It is semi-fictional dramatic war epic directed by Mel Gibson.
Williams’s father and brother died fighting against the Englishmen when he was a little child. He was taken care of by his uncle and travelled around Europe with him until he was about 20 years old. Then he returned to his original home place. Here William fell in love with a girl, Murron, and they got married secretly. They kept it secret because Longshanks gave all the English nobles the right to rape all new-married women before the husband could touch them, and William didn’t want to share Murron with any English nobles. Unfortunately Murron almost got raped, and then killed by the English soldiers. William, with revenge in mind, attacked the English soldiers. He and the rest of the village managed to kill all the soldiers.

William created an army, and they fought against the Englishmen. They won, and William got the Knighted for his work. Afterwards they burned an English garrison and told the ones who survived: “I am William Wallace, and the rest of you will be spared. Go back to England, and tell them there that the Scotland’s daughters and her sons are yours no more. Tell them Scotland is free.” Then they invaded York, and took over the city. They also sent the head from the dead master of York to Longshanks. King Edward of England sent his son’s wife, Princess Isabella, to York to give William an offer he couldn’t refuse; money and land. Isabella and William talked in private and William said that he couldn’t take her offer. She asked about his wife, and he told her what happened to her. When Isabella came back to London, the king told everybody that they would send troops to destroy Scotland when William was not there. Isabella sent her maid to York with a letter to warn William.

William and his army went back to Scotland to prepare themselves for a new battle. William got three of the nobles in the area with him, including Sir Robert Bruce that admired William and who was well-known for his courage and strong will. When they came to the battlefield, the nobles abandoned William and his army alone to fight the Englishmen. They lost, but William survived. The most shocking experience for William was that Bruce had changed side and joined the Englishmen.

Later remorseful Bruce asked William to visit him. William went to meet Bruce, but he got captured by some English soldiers. This time Bruce Father had managed to trick Bruce again in coaxing William to meet Bruce. Bruce tried to help him, but he didn’t manage. William didn’t beg for mercy, and he got tortured, and then executed. His last word was “freedom” instead of admitting King’s divinity and Reign.

The film finishes off with Robert the Bruce saying:
In the year of our Lord 1314,
Patriots of Scotland,
Starving and outnumbered,
Charged the fields at Bannockburn
They fought like warrior poets.
They fought like Scotsmen.
And won their freedom.”

Analysis of Braveheart as Drama with four essential elements of Drama
1.      1. An unresolved issues with the outcome in doubt
The people of Scotland and the Crown of England had unresolved issues. After heirless death of king of Scotland, king of England forced Scotland under them. Scottish nobles were murdered and people were having no more rights than slaves. The people wanted to have Scottish independence but they could do nothing for the wants of leader. They could seethe only with anger.
On individual level, every man and woman of Scotland were annoyed by Longshank’s granting of prima Notre to English nobles whereby English nobles can have sex with bride before she could be touched by her husband.

On personal level, village man William Wallace had his own unresolved issues with Englishmen. When he was young, his father and brother were killed by Englishmen rendering him almost homeless except for his one-eye uncle. To add fuel to the fire, he loved village girl called Murron whom he secretly married as he didn’t want to share with English nobles. However, Murron almost ended up being raped but when she protested she was murdered by English lord, thus provoking wrath of unknown William Wallace.

The issue shall be ideologically resolved in following ways.
a)     Scotland shall either become free or completely integrated into Empire of England.
b)     Prima Noctre shall cease to exist or people of Scotland shall resists and fight.
c)      William can either avenge or be coward.
However, the resolved issue was offered in the film with Mel Gibson’s version of resolution.

2.      A deep commitment to action by character with whom we can identify with.
Here we have many charactors whom we can identify with; the sexual assault to newly married bride, assault to whole of Scottish by taking away their independence and all people are committed towards fight against independence.

However, the main character we can identify with is Mel Gibson. He was fully committed for his fight against injustice meted out to people of Scotland. He was committed on three levels. As a son, he was committed to avenge his father’s death, as a husband he was committed to avenge his wife’s death and as a patriot he was committed to fight for freedom.

He was at first just a man trying to be a peasant farmer in his own land which he left as child when his father and brother were killed. But he was drawn into fray by attempted rape and cold-blooded murder of his wife. He then killed whole of English troops in the village and he was made leader by the people. There was no looking back. There he was completely involved and committed. His commitment could be best explained when he refused the bribe from English throne sent through future queen of England and Princess of France Issebella with offer of lordship and other benefits. He was even committed till his last breath when he was punished for treason. His last were, “freedom’’ not the begging for mercy as the Executioner expected. Those who identify with Murron could also see how she was committed to her husband.  She could have easily given into rape and saved her life. In this film, it is so diverse that every character can be identified with some of us in our own ways.

3. The character must be involved in a conflict at which has, at its heart, high personal stake.
The every character in this film has high personal stake. All of their lives are at stake. They were gambling in the game where they almost knew they would lose. English army too has their life at stake. They should win or get brutally killed by rebels. However, the high personal stake could be seen from main character William Wallace. For him, he had his reputation at stake, life of his army was at stake and his own life was it stake. He was put into situation where he couldn’t turn back. His only course was to move forward. If he gave up the wars, he would be hanged as traitor. If he had accepted the bribe, he would be cheating on hounour of his father, brother, wife and trusts of people of Scotland.  Besides, Longshank would have killed him after calling him to England.The responsibility to defend Scotland fell on him as Guardian Protecting Knight of Scotland. He was involved in court of England when he said, “I couldn’t be traitor to Longshank because he was never my king’’ and in the guillotine when he shouted ‘freedom’. He didn’t betray his country till the death both from  action and mind. Such commitment and involvement inspired his friends Robert, The Bruce,  who earlier betrayed him to regain the independence of Scotland. “In the year of our Lord 1314, patriots of Scotland, starving and outnumbered, charged the fields at Bannockburn. They fought like warrior poets. They fought like Scotsmen. And won their freedom.”

3.      Urgency or a sense of deadline.
It is debatable whether the film has sense of urgency or deadline. From my point of view, there is  specific time is mentioned.  Wallace was invading England and he heard that English troop was dispatched to Scotland, there was urgency for Wallace to reached Scotland before English reached Scotland. Though it was not mentioned how long it should take to gain independence, there was mention that Scotland must regain independence.
There was also sense of deadline that Scot must win before they were fully crushed. For this they needed help of nobles to defeat English but nobles betrayed him. For Robert the Bruce, he waited for his father to die before he could independently help Wallace whom he betrayed. Wallace’s urgency to win led to his capture when he went to meet Robert. For son of England’s king, he waited for death of the king, so that he wasn’t dragged into boring matter of royal duties. For princess Isebella, he wanted his father-in-law to die before the death came for Wallace. She didn’t want the father of her to-be-born, to be hanged because as a queen, she could forgive Wallace. It was evident when she whispered to dying king, “you see, death comes to us all. But before it comes to you, know this. Your plot dies with you. A child who is not of your line grows in my belly. Your son will not sit long on the thrown, I swear it.’’  For king, he wanted to hear the scream of Wallace being killed before he died.

Since, Braveheart fulfilled criteria of all elements of drama, it can be categorized as drama but Braveheart doesn’t really fit into any category or it fits into every category.

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