A melodrama is a dramatic or literary work which has a sensational and dramatic plot, which is designed to appeal strongly to the emotions of the audience. There are often moral tales that demonstrate the battle between good and evil, and how good would triumph and bring justice and morality in society. The sensational plot of melodrama often takes precedence over detailed characterisation. Therefore, rather than having realistic and complex characters, melodramas have something called stereotypical or stock characters. These stock characters in melodrama are based on set personalities or characters.
A stock character can be defined as a stereotypical person representing a type in a conventional manner and recurring in many works.
What are the Stock Characters in Melodrama
The following stock characters can be observed in melodramas:
The hero is moral, manly, brave, courageous and handsome. He believes in justice and fights against evil and injustice. He also saves the heroine from danger and defeats the villain.
The heroine is beautiful, kind, gentle and innocent. She is in love with the hero. She is often in some distress or danger and needs to be saved (Damsel in distress). At the end of the story, she has her happily ever after with the hero.
The villain is the main enemy of the hero. He is evil, powerful, dishonest, vengeful, corrupt and rich. He hates the hero. In most melodramas, the villain tries to kidnap or marry the heroine.
Villain’s accomplice helps the villain, but he often gets in the way of the villain. He or she is rather idiotic and stupid and provides comic relief.
The faithful servant is the accomplice of the hero. However, this character is also often portrayed as clumsy and idiotic. He is not as brave, courageous or handsome as the hero. This character often provides comic relief to the audience, just like the villain’s accomplice.
In addition to these stock characters in melodrama, we also find different stereotypical characters such as aging parents, flirtatious maids, comic servants, etc.
Since more attention is given to the plot of the melodrama, the characters are drawn very simply. This use of stock characters also enables the audience to recognize and identify with the characters of the melodrama more easily.
“Perils of Pauline” (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia