Meaning of Melodrama in Literature

Meaning of Melodrama in Literature

Melodrama is a dramatic work where events, plots, and characters are sensationalized to elicit strong emotional reactions from the audience. Read further to get our full explanation of Melodrama in Literature.

Meaning of Melodrama

Melodrama is a drama subgenre that is an exaggerated version of the genre. Melodramas are films that deal with sensational and romantic topics that appeal to the emotions of the general public.

Melodramas originally used melody and music, whereas modern melodramas may not contain any music at all.

In fact, melodrama favors detailed characterization over characters who are simply drawn, one-dimensional, or stereotyped. Melodrama typically employs stock characters such as heroes, heroines, and villains.

What is a Melodrama?

Melodramas, which were originally referred to as musically accompanied dramas, are now a subgenre of drama involving exaggerated situations in which the characters face dramatic conflicts.

These characters are frequently stereotypical, such as pitting good against evil. These overly dramatic situations allow the audience to experience extreme emotions throughout the story.


The Function of Melodrama in Literature

Melodramas are a type of entertaining drama in which dramatic situations are presented to allow the audience to escape reality and become absorbed in the struggles of the characters.

By including these exaggerated situations, the audience feels the heartbreak and passion that result from the situations the characters face throughout the story.

Examples of Melodramas in Literature

Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo is a well-known melodramatic novel. The protagonist in this novel is wrongfully accused and imprisoned.

When he is released, he becomes consumed by a desire for vengeance, which leads to a series of dramatic events.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer is another example of a melodrama. A teen girl moves to a new town and falls in love with a teen vampire in this young adult series.

The characters are thrust into dramatic situations such as teen love and battles against evil, and the readers are kept in emotional suspense for the duration of the series.

What are the Elements of Melodrama?

Just like other sub-genres of literature, melodrama has its features. They include:


The conflict that a character faces in a drama is realistic. A logical and reasonable sequence of events leads to conflict.

Conflicts are exaggerated and intensified in a Melodrama to elicit stronger emotional responses from the audience.

In these stories, the conflict is frequently centered on character relationships rather than a larger force.


Many dramas are centered on characters. Characters are given realistic personalities and traits that reflect the human population’s diversity. Dramatic characters are frequently intricate and one-of-a-kind.

Characters in Melodramas are typically assigned stereotypical roles. The six stock characters inspired these stereotypical roles.

The mean villain, the sensitive hero, the persecuted heroine, the clown, the faithful friend, and the villain’s accomplice are the names given to these six characters.


The differences in conflict and characters result in a variation in themes. Dramas focus on larger concepts and themes such as injustice, inequality, corruption, and societal norms.

While melodrama used to explore these themes in its original plays, today’s stories in film and television tend to be more restrained.

These stories typically have interpersonal and highly emotional themes, such as love and family.


A melodrama’s dialogue, which uses exaggerated wording, grand declarations, and dramatic pronouncements, drives much of the action.

When narration is present, it supplements the dialogue and adds flowery language and sweeping statements to the scene.


Melodramatic plots are simple, straightforward storylines that deal with age-old dilemmas and scenarios such as the struggle between repression and freedom, and betrayals in interpersonal relationships.

While the melodramatic plot is simple at its core, it will usually unfold through exaggerated events.


The majority of melodramas take place in private settings, such as homes.

This allows for amplification of the character’s personal struggles and all of the emotions that accompany them.

Melodrama Writers

Below are some of the popular writers of Melodrama, you can conduct personal research to expand your list:

  • Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley’s Secret
  • James M. Cain, Mildred Pierce, The Postman Always Rings Twice
  • Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White
  • Olive Higgins Prouty, Stella Dallas; Now, Voyager
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Pygmalion.


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Nsikak Ekikor.

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