Early modern ‘dramatic novels’ are distinctive narratives combining the characteristics of speech, meeting, novel, and drama. A ‘dramatic novel’ represents in the novel a conference or meeting propagating the messages of enlightenment to an audience through broadcasting the characters’ speeches and meetings realistically as if actors perform on the stage. This unique style of narratives emerged in the late 1900s when all public speeches and assemblies for common people were prohibited through political oppression including the promulgation of the National Security Act and the Publishing Act. Early modern ‘dramatic novels’ are largely divided into those representing speech meetings and those representing the scenes of meetings.
Some remarkable characteristics of ‘dramatic novels’ such as Geumsuhoieuirok, Gyeongsejong, and Mangukdaehoirok, which borrowed its motif from Geumsuhoieuirok in another boom of new novel writing in the 1920s, are ‘the plot of frame within a frame’ and the relief of the physicality of speaking. ‘The plot of frame within a frame’ is a product from combining the characteristics of allegorical novels and speech meetings. The outer narrative, in which the narrator explains how he came to observe the speech meeting of animals and how he was impressed, contains the inner narrative describing the scenes of the speech meeting, and the inner narrative again contains the animals’ speeches within another frame of the opening address and the closing address. In addition, through physical motions resembling actors’ performance on the stage, the scenes of animals’ speeches make the readers feel as if they themselves are in the scene of the speech meeting. That is, by inserting rhetoric expressions asking or answering to the audience and the audience’s physical responses such as laughter and hand clap here and there, the story induces the readers to feel synaesthetically collective affects happening in the scene of the speech meeting.
‘Dramatic novels’ representing meetings pursue double purposes: one, educating the readers on the rules and proceedings of meeting, and the other, asserting the necessity and justness of meeting. Depending on its characteristic, meetings are divided into those emphasizing rules and procedures and small‐size talks. Byeonginganchinhoieuirok, Cheonjunggajeol, and Geumsujaepan belong to the former, and Jayujong to the latter. Both of the two types maximize the effect of learning and the effect of enlightenment through using the plot of frame and spotlighting the bodies of meeting. Byeonginganchinhoieuirok and Cheonjunggajeol form a sequential structure, which organizes and integrates opinions and reaches the final agreement through the meeting rules. Geumsujaepan also adopts a sequential structure, reaching a rational conclusion according to the meeting rules and judiciary proceedings. Due to its characteristic as a small talk, however, Jayujong has a distinctive structure combining sequential and parallel structures, in which the pattern of ‘presentation of agenda → free expression of opinions → closing’ is repeated. A commonality of ‘dramatic novels’ representing meetings is that they foreground the physical norm that the meeting proceeds according to the rules with blocking narrator’s intervention as in a drama scenario and using meeting terms such as motion, second, and carry through direct speech. Such a meeting scene plays the role of a textbook for teaching the readers on the proceedings of meeting in which the participants reach an agreement through meeting rules and principles.