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A melodrama is a dramatic or literary work in which the plot, which is typically sensational and designed to appeal strongly to the emotions, takes precedence over detailed characterization. Characters are therefore often relatively simply drawn, and may appear stereotyped. However, because of the long timeframe in which the style has existed, and the variety of formats used, it is difficult to give a precise definition.
In scholarly and historical musical contexts melodramas are dramas of the 18th and 19th centuries in which orchestral music or song was used to accompany the action. The term is now also applied to stage performances without incidental music, novels, movies, and television and radio broadcasts. The term melodrama is often used pejoratively, to suggest that the work to which the term is applied lacks sophistication or subtlety. By extension, language or behaviour which resembles melodrama is often called melodramatic; this usage is nearly always pejorative.
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