Neoclassical ideals are rules of dramatic criticism fabricated during the Italian Renaissance (Wilson and Goldfarb 151). The neoclassical ideas had a great affect on theatre criticisms and theories there forward. Neoclassicists were influenced by the works of ancient Greek and Roman critics. Mainly, the ideas appear to be based on the models of Horace as they set out to make requirements for play writes to abide by in writing their plays (Wilson and Goldfarb 151).
A main principle of neoclassicism is known as decorum. Decorum is the idea that all fictional characters in dramatic works need to act in ways suitable to their age, gender, and social class. It was an expectation that all characters would act appropriately to their status in life (Wilson and Goldfarb 152). In doing this, theatrical works would be more accurate to real life and reflect real people. The situations in plays would be relatable to every day people. This concept of making stories true to life is known as verisimilitude (Wilson and Goldfarb 152). This meant that events that did not happen in the real world were forbidden from the stage such as ghosts appearing or supernatural events taking place (Wilson and Goldfarb 152). Verisimilitude made stock characters “recognizable and verifiable from real life” (Wilson and Goldfarb 152). These concepts were big characteristics of the neoclassicists beliefs.
Neoclassicists also had a very certain definition of genre. There were specific traits that belonged to each genre that could not be strayed from. In their idea of tragedy, this type of play would only involve royalty. A tragedy must end in disparity. On the other hand, a comedy involved only the common people and ended in joy (Wilson and Goldfarb 153). These genres could never mix. Other rules the neoclassicists had were to keep all stage actions morally acceptable and exclude stage violence (Wilson and Goldfarb 153). The neoclassicists were very particular in their ways of doing things. These ideals had a great impact and are still looked upon today.
Wilson, Edwin, and Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre: History of Theatre. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. Print.