Joseph Kesselring Writing Styles in Arsenic and Old Lace

Joseph Kesselring
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Kesselring departs from dramatic tradition in his combination of farce and melodrama. Elizabethan tragedy contain scenes that provided audiences with comic relief, but they were not part of the main action of the play. Joseph Wood Krutch, in his review of the play for the Nation, notes that Elizabethan tragedies rarely "confuse[d] the comic and the tragic, since the comic characters and the tragic ones were kept separate and we were supposed to stop laughing when the porter went off and Macbeth came on." He writes that plays during the first decades of the twentieth century, including some by George M. Cohan, began to mix drama and comedy, suggesting that "the audience was expected to laugh when the corpse fell out of the closet and to regard the more extreme forms of violence as comic per se."

Kesselring adopts this modern style as he integrates...

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This section contains 279 words
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Buy the Arsenic and Old Lace Study Guide
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Arsenic and Old Lace from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.