The persons in a playlet are not merely puppets, even if plot is made to predominate. They are—let us hope—live persons. I do not mean that you have transplanted living people to the stage, but that you have taken the elements of character that you require out of life and have combined these into a consistent whole to form characters necessary to your playlet. Therefore, you must be careful to make each character uniform throughout. You must not demand of any character anything you have not laid down in tbe premises of your problem—which presupposes that each character possesses certain definite and logical characteristics which make the plot what it is.
Bearing this single requirement firmly in mind, you must so motivate your plot that everything which occurs to a character rises out of that character’s personality; you must make the crisis the outward evidence of his inner being and the change which comes through the climax the result of inner change. This was considered in the chapters on the dramatic and on plot construction and expressed when I said: It is the meaning hidden in the events that makes the dramatic. It is this inner meaning that lies in the soul of the character himself which marks the change in his own character and his own outward life.
How a playwright delineates character in the persons of his playlet, is at once the easiest thing to explain and the most difficult for which to lay down helpful methods, for while the novelist and the short-story writer have three ways of telling their readers what manner of man it is in whom he asks interest, the dramatist has but two.
1. Methods of Characterization
First, a playwright may build up a characterization by having one character tell another what sort of a person the third is. Second, he may make the character show by his own speech and actions what he is. This latter is the dramatic way, and peculiarly the playlet way.
As the first method is perfectly plain in itself, I shall dismiss it with the suggestive warning that even this essentially undramatic method must partake of the dramatic to be most effective: to get the most out of one character’s describing a second to a third, the reason for the disclosure must be bone-and-brawn a part of the action.
The two elements of the dramatic method are: First, the character may disclose his inner being by his own words, and second, by his actions.
The first is so intimately connected with the succeeding chapter on dialogue that I shall postpone its consideration until then and discuss here the disclosure of character through action.