Bourgeois Drama

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bourgeois Drama


a genre of drama that arose in the first half of the 18th century in Great Britain and in other Western European countries as a reaction against classical drama.

Rejecting noble society and aristocratic mores, bourgeois drama upheld the interests of a new hero—the “honest bourgeois,” the idealized “natural man”—and affirmed its faith in the triumph of reason and virtue. In its early period, bourgeois drama was a manifestation of the struggle for realism in drama. The greatest dramatists and theorists of the genre were G. Lillo, D. Diderot, and G. E. Lessing.

Beginning in the 1790’s, bourgeois drama became increasingly moralizing and patronizing, expressing the ideology of the conservative petite bourgeoisie. This trend can be seen mainly in the plays of A. W. Iffland and A. Kotzebue. Sentimentality became the most characteristic trait in the performance of bourgeois drama. In Russia, the dramatists V. I. Lukin and P. A. Plavil’shchikov showed an interest in bourgeois drama.


Danilov, S. S. Ocherki po istorii russkogo dramaticheskogo teatra. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.
Istoriia zapadnoevropeiskogo teatra, vol. 2. Moscow, 1957.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Challenging the expectations raised by the subtitle, A Family Series, Fassbinder created not another staid bourgeois drama but an emphatically positive depiction of working-class life.
In fact, the storyline breaks down pretty easily, but this is hardly bourgeois drama, more like magic realism where as an audience you're swept along by the energy and invention.
Along the way, she makes astute comparisons between bourgeois drama in France, England and Russia, pointing out that, unlike western practioners of the "piece bien faite" (1) such as Victorien Sardou, Russia's Alexander Ostrovskii achieved lasting and deserved fame by "dramatizing the new attitudes toward both production and consumption sifting down through society." (33) McReynolds insists that Ostrovskii was not a social critic of bourgeois mores; he had personally undergone the "tribulations of his characters trying to negotiate between entrenched habits and fresh possibilities," (39) had understood and welcomed the marketplace in art, and empathized with the figures he created.
From the dark myth of the atridis (as Raimondi also pointed out) the Alfierian characters appear thus to attain amore 'human' dimension, and move in a quasi-domestic atmosphere and (one could add) from (neo-)classic tragedy to the bourgeois drama of the nineteenth century.
(96) The bourgeois drama theorists sought to create a flawless, perfectly coherent, unified and logical dramatic system, which is at once self-contained and self-censuring.
Diderot's and others' calls to "rewrite Moliere" and "reform art" (166), not only the drama but also literature and the visual arts, were meant to reform the family and society itself with the effect of converting all the bourgeois values and rewritten ideas of equality and the marketplace: What does bourgeois mean in bourgeois drama? It means domestic sentiment and virtue.
Eighteenth-century genre of French sentimental drama that formed a bridge between the decaying tradition of aristocratic Neoclassical tragedy and the rise of serious bourgeois drama. Such comedies made no pretense of being amusing; virtuous characters were subjected to distressing domestic crises, but even if the play ended unhappily, virtue was rewarded.
Elsewhere Anderson quotes Erich Auerbach's view of realism, which certainly hit the mark in the case of Stendhal, but in the opinion of Wellek (ibid., 236), Auerbach's "sensitive and learned book" suffered from the fact that its concept of realism excluded from its framework "the bourgeois drama or the English realistic novel of the eighteenth and nineteenth century as either didactic or idyllic." In the third chapter, concerned with the moral impediments to realism, Anderson tries to get as much as possible from Lu Xun, the most remarkable and also the most studied Chinese writer of the twentieth century, and he is quite successful in doing it through the work of Ye Shaojun.
Moral in tone and rather mediocre, they illustrate his theories on the drama and became prototypes for the bourgeois drama. Diderot's theories on the drama, which he developed in several essays, e.g., Paradoxe sur le comedien (1773 - 78, published 1830), were put into practice by emile Augier and Dumas fils, in their moralistic, social - minded plays.
The play greatly influenced the rise of bourgeois drama in Germany and France, as well as in England.
Playwright who, with Emile Augier and Alexandre Dumas fils, dominated the French stage in the late 19th century and is still remembered as a craftsman of bourgeois drama of a type belittled by George Bernard Shaw as "Sardoodledom." Sardou's work Les Pattes de mouche (1860; A Scrap of Paper) is a model of the well-made play.
Vallury is to be applauded for her ambitious attempt at the impossible task of locating twentieth-century self-deconstructing gender-bending in canonical nineteenth-century male-authored French narratives which, as bourgeois dramas, are by definition heterosexist and OEdipal.