What is Melodrama? Definition, Examples of Melodramas

Melodrama definition: Melodramas are a type of drama in which the characters are faced with exaggerated conflicts that appeal to the emotions of the audience.

What is a Melodrama?

Originally referring to dramas that had accompanying music, melodramas are now a subgenre of drama that involve exaggerated situations in which the characters face dramatic conflicts. Oftentimes, these characters are stereotypical such as pitting good against evil. These overly dramatic situations allow for extreme emotions from the audiences during the course of the story.

Melodrama Example

The popular soap opera Beverly Hills, 90210 is an example of a melodrama. This television show utilized such stock characters as Steve the high school jock and Andrea the nerdy newspaper editor throughout the series. The characters were engaged in dramatic situations in which the audiences were emotional invested.

Modern Examples of Melodrama

The Steven Spielberg film E. T. the Extra-terrestrial could be categorized as a melodrama. This 1980s film follows the story of young children who find themselves in charge of an alien who is trying to make his way back to his home planet. Throughout the movie, the children and alien encounter dramatic situations in which they struggle with the adults in life in order to protect their new friend. These situations allow for the audience to become emotionally invested in the children’s attempt to save E. T.

Another example of a melodrama from film would be It’s a Wonderful Life. In this movie we see the dramatic story of George Bailey who feels as though his loved ones would be better off without him. Through the guidance of an angel, he learns this is not so, and embraces life’s trials and tribulations.

The Function of Melodrama in Literature

Melodramas are an entertaining form of dramas in which the dramatic situations presented allow for the audience to escape reality and become consumed in the characters’ struggles. By including these exaggerated situations, the audience feels the heartbreak and passion that are a result of the situations the characters find themselves in throughout the course of the story.

Examples of Melodramas in Literature

A popular book categorized as a melodrama is Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo. In this novel, the protagonist is wrongly accused and imprisoned. Once he is released, a determination of revenge fills him and leads to many dramatic situations.

Another example of a melodrama is Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. In this young adult series, a teen girl moves to a new town and falls in love with a teen vampire. The characters find themselves in dramatic situations such as teen love and battles against evil, and the readers are left in emotional suspense throughout the series.

Summary: What are Melodramas

Define melodrama in literature: A melodrama is a type of drama in which the characters are engaged in exaggerated situations that allow for intense emotional responses from the audience.

Final Example:

The film Ghost is an example of a melodrama. In this famous film, a man is murdered, but his spirit comes back in order to protect the woman he loves from danger that lurks nearby.