Romantic Theatre Unifying Society Through "Polite Conversation"
From Romanticism in theater we find that the purpose of the role of art was to lead people to perceive the underlying unity of all existence and thus to eliminate conflict -"to make man whole again."How did the Romantic theater make an impact to, in essence, unify existence or society?With the help of Hazlitt, a drama reviewer (critic) of 1820, we can examine the characteristics that Romanticism brought to the theater that, in turn, lead to a greater unity among people.Romantic plays fostered "polite conversation" through common experiences shared by all.
Emotions rather than intellect were the appeal of Romantic plays.Passion is culminated through emotions and passion is the motivation of human existence.Therefore, we use our passion for one another and things as a basis for our reflections.The theater supplies a common ground, a shared set of experiences, which are crucial components for fostering discussion among all people.The theater is a "common-place", and a subject that all may use in conversing with others.Any topic that is discussed by persons of presumably equal knowledge of the subject can strike a chain of extended knowing.
Therefore, the role of the newspaper reviewer becomes a common mediator, connecting all classes.An ideal account of the Romantic theater functioning as an agent towards "polite conversation" is found in The Examiner of January 5, 1817:
The merits of a new play, or of a new actor, are always among thefirst topics of polite conversation.One way in which public exhibitions contribute to refine and humanize mankind, is by supplying them with ideas and subjects of conversation and interest in common.For instance, if we meet with a stranger at an inn or in a stage-coach, who know nothing buy his own affairs-his shop, his customers, his farm, his pigs, his poultry-…