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ENGLISH 1302 - Wylie: Drama Analysis **NEW**

TIPS for citing published drama works

Citation for dramatic works and other sources connected to theatre and performance is very similar to general website or book citation.  In both instances you are looking for some or all of the following:

This could be the playwright.
Title of Source.
The title of the work you are citing. 
    Work that is normally italicized, like a novel or a play, is contained in a larger work (like a collection of plays) both the title of the play and the title of the anthology it is found in are written in italics.
Title of Container, 
This would be the name of place you found your source, like a collected works/anthology, website, newspaper.
Use this filed if it is relevant or helpful to list contributors like actors who you focus on or who help to identify the work, dance or drama companies that performed the work, directors or conductors
This could include production company, film studio, or distributor, for a piece of music this could be the music label.
Publication date,
This could include the date the drama was first performed or published in print form
Page number(s), URL, 
Accessed Date.
For online material please include the date you accessed the resource, e.g. Accessed 10 Oct. 2020.

Comparing/Contrasting Literary Works, Characters, or Authors

Comparing Literary Works

  • Consider which works you want to compare/contrast.
  • Reread your selections taking notes as you go.
    • You could make a list of themes from each work and compare them side by side.
    • Free writing is also a great way to get your ideas on paper.
    • Spend time brainstorming- those who explore their ideas often have better essays in the end.
  • Try to determine the central theme of the work you are considering. 
  • Look for a second work that has a similar theme 

Common Themes

  • Good vs. Evil
  • Coming of Age
  • War and its perils
  • Individual vs. Society
  • Love
  • Heroism 
  • Corruption

These are only some of the themes out there. You can explore many other options for your paper!

Questions to Ask

  • What is the overall message of the work? 
  • Does the main character evolve as the story progresses?
  • What was the main conflict in the work? 
  • Is the work trying to convey a message about society?
  • How do symbols tie into or help to develop the theme?

"War is Kind" by Stephen Crane and "The Man He Killed" by Thomas Hardy are two poems that depict the lunacy of war and the grief they bring. Crane's poem focuses on the heartache families endure as they lose loved ones. Contrarily, Hardy focuses his work on the despair that accompanies a living soldier as he recalls the dreadful memories of killing an enemy soldier. When these works are contemplated together they paint a picture of grief and senselessness for soldiers in action and their family members remaining at home.

Character Analysis

  • Select two characters you would like to analyze.
  • Reread text and focus in on these characters, taking notes as you go.
  • Make a list of traits for each character and compare/contrast them side by side.

Questions to Ask

  •  What important traits do the characters possess? 
  •  Is the character a main protagonist or antagonist?
  •  Look at the characters actions- how can they be interpreted?
  •  How does the character interact with others?
  • How does the character interact with the world they live in?
  • Do you see changes in the character as the plot progresses?

Example: Hamlet's revenge of his uncle Claudius for murdering his father, is a popular and obvious theme throughout the play. Deeper inspection reveals though, that Hamlet and Claudius are both equally capable of committing the same kind of atrocities. They both have an unparalleled drive to achieve what they want, even it means committing murder to attain it. One could ponder if Hamlet's hatred of Claudius reveals a deep seeded fear of recognition of these parallels. 


Author Analysis 

  • You can also focus your compare/contrast criticism on two authors.
  • Reread the authors works you will be critiquing 
  • Take notes about the authors as you read

Questions to Ask

  • What does the text say about the Author?
  • What kind of message is the Author trying to convey to their audience?
  • Does the author's life and background effect the themes of their works?
  • Do historical events influence the authors?

Example: The short stories "The Story of an Hour", by Kate Chopin and "The Jury of Her Peers", by Susan Glaspell examine gender roles and self-identity for women living in the late 18th century. It is clear that Chopin and Glaspell's works reflect the times in which they live. Both are female authors in a society in favor of men. Notably these authors are a proponent of women and their equality within society. Both authors demonstrate this by focusing their themes on the struggles women face which also coincides with the early women's movement in the United States.


Citing Drama

The text of a play is cited differently from traditional prose works. Because plays are often printed in many editions and anthologies, it is customary to cite the act, scene, and line number rather than the page number in your in-text citations.

Tips for citing plays:

  • Begin with the broadest division (usually act) and continue through the smallest division (usually scene or line).
  • Separate each division with a period. Label each division so the reader knows exactly where to find the quotation in the text.
  • Some plays will contain more or fewer divisions than act, scene, & line. Use as much information as is available in the text.

If you have included the author's name elsewhere in your paper, you do not need to include it in your parenthetical citation. Instead, include the first significant word of the title.



Quoting a Single Character MLA 6.4.8

If you quote a remark from one character, you can incorporate it into the body of the paragraph.

Example 1:

Nora's epiphany occurs when she realizes her husband will never reciprocate the sacrifices she's made to protect his pride. She finally stands up to Helmer, telling him, "You neither think nor talk like the man I could join myself to" (Doll act 3).

(Note: Ibsen's A Doll House is divided by act only. This will be the only division you can cite.)

Example 2:

Although Oedipus blames the gods for his tragic fate, he admits that his latest misfortune is his own doing when he cries, "But the blinding hand was my own! How could I bear to see when all my sight was horror everywhere?" (Oedipus exodus. strophe 2. lines 114-116).

(Note: Oedipus Rex is broken into numerous divisions; all available divisions are included in the citation.)

Quoting Dialogue (2 or More Characters) MLA 3.7.4

Tips for quoting dialogue:

  • Begin the quotation on a new line.
  • Set the quotation off from the body of your paper with one inch indentations.
  • If a character's speech continues onto the next line of your paper, indent subsequent lines an additional 1/4 inch (about 3 spaces).
  • Double-space each line.
  • Write the characters' names in capital letters followed by a period.
  • Do not use quotation marks.

Example 1:

      OEDIPUS. Ah, what net has God been weaving for me?

      IOCASTÊ. Oedipus! What does this trouble you?

      OEDIPUS. Do not ask me yet. First, tell me how Laïos looked, and tell me how old he was.

      IOCASTÊ. He was tall, his hair just touched with white; his form was not unlike your own.

      OEDIPUS. I think that I myself may be accursed by my own ignorant edict. (Oedipus scene 2. antistrophe 2. lines 211-216)

Example 2:

      KROGSTAD. Yes, yes, yes, to the point: there's still time, and I'm advising you to use your

         influence to prevent it.

      NORA. But Mr. Krogstad, I have absolutely no influence.

      KROGSTAD. You haven't? I thought you were just saying -

      NORA. You shouldn't take me so literally! How can you believe that I have any such influence

          over my husband? (Doll act 1)

Works Cited

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll House. Trans. Rolf Fjelde. Literature: Reading, Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. Robert DiYanni. 6th ed.

         Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2007. 1666-1715. Print.

Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Trans. Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald. Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. Robert

         DiYanni. 6th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2007. 1307-1346. Print.


The format of your citation will depend on the source of the play.

 Plays are usually published in one of the following sources:

:Play in an Anthology or Collection MLA 5.5.6

  Anthology, Playwright and Editor

Begin the citation with the playwright, not the editor of the anthology.



A Collection of Plays by a Single Playwright

If the play is published in a collection that has no editor on the title page, use the anthology format, but omit the editor.

If you are citing more than one play from the same collection, create a citation for each play.



Play Published as a Single Volume MLA 5.5.2

Cite the play as you would a book.



Stoppard, Tom. The Real Thing. Boston: Faber, 1984. Print.


Play in an eBook MLA 5.6.2c

Cite the play as you would a print book, followed by:

  • The name of the database in which you accessed the eBook
  • The medium of publication (Web)
  • The most recent date you accessed the eBook 



Shepard, Sam. Buried Child: A Play. Rev. ed. New York: Vintage, 2006. Ebrary. Web. 16 Apr. 2013.


A Live Performance MLA 5.7.4

   The example below is for a live performance.

See the appropriate citation format for:

  • A recorded performance on film or DVD
  • A performance viewed via library databases.



Noodletools for Citing Drama Works