the play or playwright's point of view or perspective on the world

Major concern thanatos (death, dying, Mortality) eros (love, sex, living, Love)
Shape of action inexorable decline decline and inexorable recovery (recovery is not to be confused with resolution)
Ending finite (no action remains undone); death, the end of time or of an era, etc. open (we know something is going to happen next); eros, the future, a number of possible next days...
Audience reaction the audience feels the audience thinks
NB not always sad; laugher is often central (eg. Hamlet), resolution is possible not always funny; pain is central; resolution is not guaranteed
Generic Perspectives








Purpose explore the nature of morality apply a particular morality

(bad things happen to bad people)

explore the nature of morality apply a particular morality

(bad things happen to bad people)

Size of frame/

context of story

large: characters have social/political influence, events may include national crises, wars, etc. small: often limited to domestic context large: characters have political as well as domestic lives, social intellectual issues are at stake small: often domestic, issues are usually physical (sex not love, hunger)
Implications of events within the play-world broad: actions have significant, far-reaching consequences narrow: actions lack consequences of equivalent significance broad: actions have consequences narrow: esp. violence, cruelty and suffering have no consequences
characters: complex, contradictory, having morality and wide perspective, aware of own suffering, behaviour defies a simple interpretation simple (there are good guys and bad guys), predictable (and they're likely to remain in those roles), having limited perspective, unaware of their own suffering (they're able to stand up for what's right without too much trouble struggle), behaviour can be interpreted simply, (the villain twirls his moustache), uses stereotypes and stock characters complex, unpredictable, retain morality and perspective (can recognise need to compromise between own desire and desires/needs of others),

aware of their own suffering (violence has consequences), behaviour defies a simple interpretation

unaware of their own suffering (violence has no consequences), simple, predictable, obsessive-compulsive behaviour without morality and without perspective, behaviour can be interpreted simply, extensive use of stereotypes and stock characters

nb. beware of film/TV examples

King Lear; Oedipus Rex; Death of a Salesman (nb. breadth of context=entire American society, evident in the play by report, through the neighbours, etc.) egs: Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap; Les Miserables; A Doll's House; any Agitprop; Eyes Wide Shut (film: central concern=despair, despite pre-occupation with sex; story has a moral: nuclear family) Twelfth Night (nb. Malvolio's suffering, Toby's); Cherry Orchard (nb. misery of the recovery, dread of the future); certain Woody Allen?; American Dream (film) most Commedia lazzi (eg. Harlequin & the fly); most of Feydeau; Coventry Crucifixion (nb. about Love); Mr. Bean (TV)