The word idea comes from Greek meaning the inner form of a thing as opposed to its physical reality. From this root comes the current meaning of a thought or a mental image. Idea is also related to the word ideal, meaning a model or an original pattern. To some extent, idea has been discussed already in connection with given circumstances, background story, plot, and character. Earlier chapters, however, treated each feature’s contribution to idea, not the element itself. This chapter will concentrate on idea as a basic element of drama.

Many people think of idea in drama in connection with idea plays, sometimes called problem plays, thesis plays, propaganda plays, or social dramas. Idea plays began in France during the early nineteenth ...

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