This analysis of Brand was originally published in The Continental Drama of Today. Barrett H. Clark. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1914. pp. 26-8.
Brand is a dramatic poem in five acts. It was not written originally for the stage, but it has been produced with considerable success.
The play is concerned with a man who sacrifices everything to his ideal of "All or nothing"; Brand gives up friends, wife, and child, for his principles. Technically, the plot is well constructed and interesting as a story; as a play, it is doubtful whether the long speeches add to its general effectiveness.
Notice again the setting. The key-note of the play is to be found there. A good dramatist rarely gives the audience a false clue in his opening act; either by setting, conversation, or pantomime, or all three, he foreshadows as it were the spirit of the play. Compare the opening of Brand with those of Macbeth and Hamlet.
At precisely what point does Brand start? That is, where does the introduction, or exposition, stop, and the plot begin?
What examples of foreshadowing are there in the first act? Where, in the first act, is there a connecting link of interest, carrying the story into the succeeding act?
After the introduction, or exposition, which is always in the first act, and after the play starts, that section of the play which is known as the development, begins. This extends to the climax, the high-water mark of interest -- the "greatest of a series of crises," the point from which the play releases its tension and falls, to the conclusion. In Sudermann's Magda, practically the entire first act is devoted to exposition; not until the very last part of it does the play start. The moment Schwartze says he will let his daughter come to see him the play has begun. By way of comparison trace carefully the development of Brand, noting where the exposition stops, where the action begins, and where it reaches its culmination.
Every scene, in its action and in what it contains of characterization, contributes to the exposition of various sides of Brand's nature. This adherence to one personage, continuous and yet interesting in its variations, makes for unity, both of the play and of the character of the protagonist. When the play is read, a distinct and unified impression remains, in spite of many scenes and seemingly countless incidents.
What is the dramatic, or structural, purpose of the Dean, the Mayor, and of Einar?
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