Realism is the movement toward representing reality as it is, in art. Realistic drama is an attempt to portray life on stage, a movement away from the conventional melodramas and sentimental comedies of the 1700s. It is expressed in theatre through the use of symbolism, character development, stage setting and storyline and is exemplified in plays such as Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House and Anton Chekhov's The Three Sisters. The arrival of realism was indeed good for theatre as it promoted greater audience involvement and raised awareness of contemporary social and moral issues. It also provided and continues to provide a medium through which playwrights can express their views about societal values, attitudes and morals. A Doll's
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Realism, as expressed through symbolism, also draws the attention of the audience, thus stimulating moral thought, and stirring reaction. Realism is also defined as art-imitating life (source). This is a fitting account of Anton Chekhov's plays, for they tend to show the stagnant, helpless quality of Russian society in the late C19th. Quite evident in The Three Sisters, when Tuzenbakh illustrates realism; "The suffering we see around us these days - and there's plenty of it - is at least a sign that society has reached a certain moral level." Hence, while the portrayal of life here seemed 'gloomy and pessimestic', it was still good for theatre in that it presented issues which audiences could identify with. It was also more intellectual theatre when the playwright could express their views, compared with the conventional dramas that merely played out fiction. Chekhov tends to portray people who are perpetually unsatisfied, such as Olga; "I felt my youth and energy draining away, drop by drop each day. Only one thing grows stronger and stronger, a certain longing." (Act 1). This is reflective of
Chekhov's realistic character work, where people dream to improve their lives, but most fail. Realism here effectively presents harsh realities onstage, and not having to promote idealistic ways of life. Reality is difficult as Olga expresses; "What is all this for?