English Reinassance


Setting the Scene

Renaissance means re-birth. It began in Italy espacially in art, architecture, 15th century. In late 16th England became the most powerful nation in Europe, new worlds were discovered and new ways of thinking.

Columbus discovered America.

Copernicus and Galileo made discoveries about stars and planets.

Ferdinan Magallanes travelled around the world.

Henry the VIII became the head of the Church of England, churhc and state were together.

Erasmus wrote of man as the central figure of the world, and this humanist concern was the basis of most Renaissance thought.

Henry VIII´s daughter became the simbol of the golden age. Spain was defeated.

A concern of the shortness of human life began with Elisabeth´s old age.

Renaissance was the begining of the modern world in areas of geography, science, politics, religion, society, and art.

Writers like Shakespeare made English the modern language we can recognize today.

The most important expresion in literature was THEATRE, and the golden age of English DRAMA.


Of Shak. thirty-seven plays, many of the best known are tragedies. Each is, however, different from all the others. He was constantly experimenting with different styles, techniques and themes.

History plays

There are many, usually the title is the name of an English king:

Henry IV, V,VI,VIII. Shak. Examines every king as a human being first, very human, strong or weak, clever or not, good or bad. Some are more than just historical stories, and become tragedies, like HAMLET(which has became the most famous of all Shak´s Plays),Richard II, III. Shak is concerned for his own nation, and the human individual who plays the king.

Some kings are heroic like Henry V, but others like Richard II, the most tragically weak, shows his deepest feelings. Richard is a real man, with worries and concerns, no longer a distant Godlike figure. Shak manages to create sympathy for his heroes, making them understandable, complex, recognizable characters.

Roman plays

In a similar way he describes the classical history of Ancient Rome in Roman plays, which also combine the historical with the tragic: Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, and Coriolanus.

History and roman plays were written at different times in Shak´s career. He liked to return to different historical periods at different times but the same historical subjects return in his earllly period, his middle period, and his late plays. Often he asked questions in his plays which had to do with the political situation in England at the time but without offending any of the monarcs.

Soliloquies and Structure.

Not all heroes are good men. Richard III is descrived as Machiavellian, someone who tricks and deceives others. The actor who represents him is alone on stage, he gives his thoughts to the audience.

Sometimes a character will make a big, public speech, like Julius Caesar. But normaly the soliloquy is a private speech. Shak´s plays were written to be performed, all divided into five sections (acts, or scenes ) but this only happened about a century after the publication of his First Folio (edition) of his complete plays in 1623.

The tragedies

Shak´s black period (turn of century). Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Othelo, King Lear, Macbeth & Timon of Athens. Revenge, jealoussy, family, ambition, pessimmism, the problem of limits and human failure...

During this time the death of his son Hammet may of influenced his black period when many of his plays concern fathers and sons.

Romeo and Juliet is the most famous tragedy of love in all literature is one of his earliest tragedies. Many of these tragedies end in pessemism where life has lost its meaning, but normaly there is some hope for the future, a new king in Hamlet and Macbeth. King Lear is the most pessimistic. He loses faith for manknid in plays like Timon of Athens. In his last plays he finds hope again for mankind expressed in the younger generations who represent the future of the world.

In the tragedies, again and again the characters ask “What is a man?”. This was in many ways the main question of the age.

The comedies

Happy ends vs. Hero´s death.

The question of the future harmony of the universe.

The subject of identity: The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night and As you like it.

The role of women: The Taming of the Shrew & The Merry Wives of Winsor.

Love and jealousy: Much Ado About Nothing.

Love and power: A Midsummer Night´s Dream.

The power of money and deception: The Merchat of Venice. (Things never end as they seem)

And other "problem plays": Measure for Measure & All´s Well that Ends Well.

The world is threatened and shaken but comedies always end happily

Final Plays

Difficulty of clasification, fables, pastoral comedies or problem plays. Different in tone while thematically similar with respect to Shak´s previous dramas: The Tempest like others it´s about giving back harmony to the universe.(the last he wrote) & The Winter´s Tale.

Chistopher Marlowe (1564-93)

Biography. (Politics and Drama; Marlowe, the over-reacher; Marlowe and Shakespeare).

Tragedies: Edward II(first homosexual character), Tamburlaine (Theme of power), The Jew of Malta (Barabas has the first negro servant in English drama), Dido & Dr. Faustus.

Marlowe and the Renaissance; black verse and Dr. Faustus.

At the age of 29, he was the most famous and successful playwright of his generation. Educated at Oxford and Cambridge. His plays have superhuman heroes (best known was Doctor Faustus), whose language has a more poetic style, influenced by Latin and Greek.

Ben Jonson (1572/3-1637)

Ben Jonson, politics and the theory of “humour”. Elizabethan & Jacobean periods.

Every Man in His Humour & Every Man Out of his Humour.

Emotion: Volpone and The Alchemist (best known comedies)

His first plays caused controversy because of his political relevance. His characters are moved by jealousy, moral concern, or false bravery.

He wrote the texts for many masques: Masque of Queens

Inigo Jones introduced the procenium arch for the theatre

Other Dramatists

Thomas Kyd´s The Spanish Tragedy. (Revenge tragedy, code of honour).

John Ford's Tis a Pity She Is a Whore. Tragedy of sexual love between brother & sister. Full of action, violence, emoti9on and often madness.

Masterpieces of Jacobean tragedy: John Webster's The Duches of Malfi & The White Devil. (women who are victims of male violence.

Thomas Middleton´s A Mad World. Comedy (city comedies, in London) and tragedy: dark violent and complex. They explore themes of madness politics and revenge

The taste for violence, corruption, and complex sexual feelings caused a reaction from extremes Protestants, the Puritans. This was the beginning of the closure of theatres 1642. The golden Age of English Drama ended in criticism.

Renaissance poetry:

The sonnet: Petrarchan vs. Elizabethan/English. Structure & rhyme scheme.14 ten syllable lines, the ryme ababcdcdefefgg called Elizabethan scheme, the words ryme every other line, the last two are called couplet.

Sonneteers: First writers Sir Thomas Wyatt, Henry Howard. Their sonnets were published in Tottel´s Miscellany, 1557.

William Shakespeare's Sonnets. Time sonnets. (Reading & commentary of sonnet 144). Cover a wide range of subjects: love and loss, loneliness and change

Sir Philip Sidney: . First major poet: soldier, poet and lover. Astrophel & Stella full idealized love never managed: love and loss are linked.

Edmund Spenser and the tradition of English poetry: Prince of poets in Elizabethan age, controversial figure, with new ideas, he tried to flatter his superiors The Faerie Queene he used the Spenserian stanza: nine lines ababbcbcc

The poetry of Ch. Marlowe and Ben Jonson greatest of the time, in a private form didn´t publish them (16th & 17th C.)

Metaphysical poetry

The Jacobean age and the poetry of the Seventeenth-century.

John Donne and the Metaphysical conceit the reason why Donne and Herbert are considered Metaphysical is because the critic Samuel Johnson thought that their poems were to complex and he didn´t like them. They wrote about religious themes and sensual love poems, full of modern ideas(personal relation with God, speaking to him). They were educated men . The Canonization” & Holy Sonnets.

Other metaphysical poets: George Herbert. He experienced with language and verse forms (“Easter Wings”), Henry Vaughan wrote about the welsh countryside, he is a poet of innocence, Thomas Traherne youthful, celebrates life and eternity, presents fewer questions and problems than other poets.

Andrew Marvell: important in the later metaphysical poets he brings together religious and secular themes. The Cavalier Poets (late metaphysical) supported by king James I against Puritans. The Puritan Revolution their poems are simpler, more lyrical, concerned with love, passing of time like: Robert Herrick and Richard Lovelace who write also about more serious subjects such as the trouble times they live in, freedom.

Elizabethan and Jacobean prose

Prose was important in the Renaissance period because it helped to form the modern English language, and it gives the earliest examples of many forms of writing which later became very popular, the writing reached a wide audience through printing in subjects such as travel writing, essays, guidebooks, political pamphlets, etc.

The Authorized Version of the Bible. (King James I). Was a great influence in the English language.

Cony-catching pamphlets. They were very popular, about thieves, cheats, and other characters. It´s comic, and about the city life in London.

Richard Hakluyt and travel writing about the voyages of explores to new worlds: America & the East. Sir Walter Raleigh “Discovery of Guiana” Imaginary places with a lot of romance. Sidney´s Arcadia (ideal pastoral place)

Sir Thomas More´s Utopia (means no place) to an imaginary country, with the ideal model of society.

Thomas Nashe´s The Unfortunate Traveller new kinds of fantasy, humour and social comment

Sir Francis Bacon´s New Atlantis and The Advancement of Learning He wrote in the essay form. He shows his concern for the new way of thinking, new ideas, a larger world, he had a philosophical and religious way of thinking.

In his fanciful New Atlantis Bacon suggested the formation of scientific academies.

Enviado por:Luis Piedra
Idioma: inglés
País: España

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