Some observations on value and greatness in drama



This paper argues that value in drama partly results from the nature of the resistance in a scene, resistance used in its common, everyday meaning. A playwright’s ability to imagine and present such resistance rests on several factors, including his sublimation of the fantasies that underpin his work. Such sublimation is evident in Chekhov’s continuing reworking in his plays of a fantasy that found its initial embodiment for him in one of the central scenes in Hamlet. The increasingly higher value of the scenes Chekhov wrote as he repeatedly reworked Shakespeare’s scene resulted from his increasing sublimation of the initial fantasy and is reflected in the ever more complex nature of the resistance found in Chekhov’s scenes, resistance that, in turn, created an ever more life-like, three-dimensional central character in the scenes.