Both melodrama and realism are similar in that they both strive to cope with the realities of the relative society and modernism. While realism has a more cynical flavor, melodrama attempts to overcome the new modernistic society by creating a clear division of good and evil and depicting the good as more morally worthy of succeeding. In both realism and melodrama, there is a clear division of class in characters and a class is extremely important. I do not personally think that melodrama had anything to give to aid the development of realism as melodrama does not focus on character development or a complex plot.
Melodramas related to racial issues are similar to melodramas that don’t involve a racial theme in that both types involve the struggle and validation of a specific group of people. Both have an equal influence on the society in which the group is a part.
I definitely think that the silent aspect of Birth of a Nation makes the film more melodramatic. Due to a lack of dialogue, the actors are forced to compensate by over acting and exaggerating the plot. In addition, the directors had to focus on making sure that there was a clear division of good and evil throughout the film because without dialogue it is difficult to have any sort of plot twist.