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Drama as a dominant form in the Elizabethan Age

Maharaja Krishnakumarsinhji Bhavnagar


University
Name: Bhatti Nikunj R.
Subject: The Renaissance Literature (Paper-1)
Topic: Drama as a dominant form in the Elizabethan Age
Roll No:19
Study:MA Semester-1
Guided By: Dr. Dilip Barad
Submitted To: Department of English

Introduction:
Elizabethan Age or Age of Shakespeare was a unique period not only in the history of
England but also the world. This period witnessed a greater advancement in science, arts, life, of
people. According to William J. Long this period is from 1550 to 1620 was the duration of the
Elizabethan Age. The period of Queen Elizabethans reign our England is rightly called The
Golden Period in the history of England as also in the history of English Literature.
The Elizabethan Age witnessed a stable and encouraging governance of Queen Elizabeth.
Politically the nation was stable, civil wars were over, and QueenElizabeth seemed one of the
best rulers of English nation. People were living a better life. In literary terms this period is
concerned as the period Renaissances. That means rebirth or Revival of Greek and Italian
culture, learning, literature, art, painting etc. People had tremendous joy and thrilling. It was the
period of awakening for knowledge and advancement.
It was also an Age of new discovery and exploration of new lands through adventures
voyages across uncharted seas and oceans. The Queen Elizabeth was encouraging adventures

and honouring sailors in her court. It was also an Age of intense patriotism, when people took a
keen interest in Englands past, pride in Englands greatness. People were Royal to their queen.

Development of the Drama:


The Elizabethan Age was one of the most productive Ages for literature.Great dramatists
highly artistic poets, philosophers like Bacon made this Age extremely fruitful for literary
creation.On the other hand welcomed and responded literary of art.

Drama
The platform prepared by University Wits who were beneficial to Shakespeare and his
contemporise. Drama had become voice and choice of people.Threatres had become the voice
and choice of attraction.It was the most popular form of literature in that Age. Genius Dramatists
like Shakespeare,BenJonson,Marlowe;JohnWebster satisfied peoples interest for the
drama.Great tragedies like Othello,Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear etc. classical comedies
like As You Like It, Volpole by Jonson etc.were leading dramas.

Miracle Play:
A Miracle play is basically a religious play. It deals with the lives of saints and the
miracles performed by them. The life and Martyrdom of a saint formed by the central theme of a
miracle play. The Normans undoubtedly brought religious plays with them but it is probable that
they began in England before the conquest.

Mystery Play:
The Mystery plays basically deal with the themes taken from Bible.They present in a
chronological order major event from the creation and fail of man through nativity, crucifixion,
Resurrection of Christ to the last judgement.
Moral Play:
Moral play of the drama is shows by the increasing prevalence of the Morality Play. In
this the characters were allegorical personages, Life, Death, Repentance, Goodness, Love, Greed,
and other virtues and vices. The Morality marks a distinct advance over the Miracle in that it
gave free scope to the imagination for new plots and incidents.
Interludes Play:
The Interludes were generally short entertainment inserted within a longer play or amidst
some other festivities or festivals. Their primary function was to entertain the audience by
humour or even by farce. The Interludes originated undoubtedly, in sense of humour, and to John
Heywood, who raised the interlude to the distinct dramatic form known as a comedy.

Apart from that, the artistic period plays a vital to the English drama .it is a different from
the eelier plays like miracles and Mysteries because if represent human life as it is .In
EnglishLiterature,Ralph Royster Doyster, and the first Englishcomedy, which was written by
Nicholas Udall in 1550. The first wholly comedy is full of fun& course humour, and is
wonderfully true to the life it represents. To raise the growth of Drama, first tragedy can also be
found, Gorducwhich was written in collaboration by Thomas Sackville and Thomas Norton. It
was written in 1561, but performed on the stage the year of 1562.Due to classical Influence, the
growth of English Drama can be observed. This influence started to develop from the Mystery
and Miracle play. Now lets have discussElizabethan Tragedy and Comedy.

Elizabethan Tragedy:
The development of Tragedy in the Elizabethan Age was one of the most preferable
choices of the people. The form of Tragedy that Shakespeare developed from the experiments of
men like Marlowe and Kyd was really a new and distinct type. Such classical restrictions as the
unities of place and time, and the complete separation of comedy and tragedyThe greatest master
of Tragedy was Shakespeare, and in Tragedy he reached his greatest height. Hamlet, King
Lear, and Macbeth and Hamlet was perhaps most popular at the time of its production, and
also John Webster. The Duchess of Malfi is a favourable example of his ability to inspire
terror and pity.so this Way tragedy play a great role in the Age of Elizabethan.

Elizabethan Comedy:
In the field of comedy, ShakespearesAs You Like It and Twelfth Night, not only
display with great skill many sides of human nature, but with indescribable lightness and grace
introduce us to charming creations, speaking lines rich in poetry and sparkling.The Alchemist,
representing the work of Ben Jonson, belongs to a type which Shakespeare hardly touched the
Realistic Comedy.Beaumont and Fletcher belongs to the same type of romantic drama as The
Tempestthe type of play which belongs to Comedy by virtue of its happy ending, but contains
incidents and passages in an all but tragic tone.so we may says that Comedy also play a batter
role in this Age.
So, lets discuss major Dramatists of this Age in detail.

University wits:
University wits were the name given to a group of Elizabeth or Elizabethan playwrights.
The university wits were a group of oxford and Cambridgeuniversity scholars. Who came to
London to try their luck as the professional play Wrights.Immediately before Shakespeare it was
the earliest stage of the development of Drama as a popular. The University wits were a group of
seven people. The University wits called pre cursor whohave made the way for Shakespeare.
The pre-Shakespearean University Dramatists are known as the university wits. These
University men were usually actors as well as Dramatists. This group contributed to establish the
Elizabethan theatre. They popularized the form of Drama. They are like a..

John Lyly was the leader of university wits but Christopher Marlowe was more famous
because of his tragedies.
Their Plays had several features:
There was a fondness or heroic themes, such as the lives of great persons like
Mohammad and Tamburlaine.Heroic themes needed heroic treatment variety, splendid
descriptions, long speeches; Violent, incidents and emotions.Their style was also heroic. The
chief aim was to achieve stormy and high sounding lines and powerful speeches. This kind of
example can be found in the play of Christopher Marlowe.
The themes were usually tragic. They preferred tragedy a pure tragedy not mixture with
humour. Some of themes also like Lyly wrote Romantic Comedies.
1] John Lily(1554-1606)
He was the leader of university Wits and chosen themes from classical literature. He
become famous for his comedy like,
o
Sappho
and
Phao

o
o
o

Woman
Alexander

in

the
and

Moone
Campaspe

Endimion

2] George Peele(1558-1597)
He is noted for his poetic style and decorative phrase. He wrote many plays, but
unfortunately only few of them are popular like,
o Edward 1

o
o

The old wives


The Love of King David

3] Robert Greene (1558-1592)

He travelled widely over Europe and liked Italian authors. He was school of Bothoxfort
and Cambridge University. He developed a regular plot expressing deep Human feeling. His
plays are,
o The Scottish History of James 4

o
o
o

The History of orlandoFurioso


A looking Glass for London and England
The Comicall History of Alphonus King of Aragon

4] Thomas Kyd (1558-1594)


He was a Dramatis and educated at London. Who wrote a famous tragedy which was
known as Spanish Tragedy. It is believed that he wrote a play Hamlet. By profession he was a
scrivener.He was first English dramatist who wrote dramatically. His importance in the group of
university wits is next only to Marlowe. His remarkable plays are such as
o Spenishtragedy

o
o
o

Jeronimo
Aplology for actor
The tragedy of solyman and person

5] Thomas Nashe(1558-1625)
Thomas Nashe was basically a story writer.Then after he used his hand of play or drama.
He was the create of a new style of writing.
o The Unfortunate traveller Jack woillson

o
o

Dido Queen of cartage and summers


Last will and testament

6] Thomas Lodge (1567-1601)


He was not a important Dramatist .He was educated at Oxford .Who was a facile writer
.He became famous for his two dramas as given below
o The Wounds of civil war

A Looking glass for London & England


The second one was written in collaboration with Robert Greene.

7] Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)

Christopher Marlowe was more famous as well as most outstanding figure among
university wits. Marlowe was the model for Shakespeare. About Marlowe one critic said Had
there been no Marlowe there would have been no Shakespeare .
Shakespeare learnt from Marlowe for two majortechniques...
1) Theory of Tragedy
2) Blank Verse
His Plays are like a.....
o Dr. Faustus

o
o
o
o
o

King Edward
Tamerlane
The Jew of Malta
The Massacre at parish
Dido Queen of cartage
So, lets discuss major Dramatists of this Age in detail.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)


When Shakespeare charged with debts to his authors, Landor replies,
Yet he was moreoriginal than his originals. He breathed upon dead bodies and brought them
into Life.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims
William Shakespeare was one of the greatestDramatists of The English Literature and
prominent figure in the Elizabethan Age.He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon on 23th of April,
1564. The family was not rich yet. They rented a house and some land. There were eight children
in the family: fourgirls ad four boys three of them diedyoung. In 1582, Shakespeare was married
to Anne Hathway. After that he started to write Dramas, which can be categorized in four
different periods. The First Period
In first period, His comedies belong to the first period of his creative work. The plays are
full of light, wit and optimism. Even in "Romeo and Juliet, the tragedy that was written during
this period, the author didnt stress the note of grief. All the plays are written in the bright
manner of the Renaissance.His plays are,
o 1590 - King Henry VI

o
o
o

1591 - Henry VI
1592 - The Comedy of Errors
1594 - The Two Gentlemen of Verona

The Second Period

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o
o

The secondperiod, which isa period of rapid growth and development. It this period we
may observe artistic work. In this period, we can see the better plots and a marked increase in
knowledge of human nature in a play. His plays are,
1595 - Romeo and Juliet
1595 - A Midsummer Night's Dream
1596 - Merchant of Venice
1599 - Julius Caesar
1599 - As You Like it

The Third Period


Shakespeare's tragedies belong to the Third period of his work. Duringthat time the
author reaches his full maturity. He becomes a great dramatist of the Renaissance, his main
ideology is humanism, and he presents the great human problems inhis plays. The writer vividly
reveals human relations, shows his characters.

o
o
o
o
o
o
o

The plays of the third period are:


1601 - Hamlet
1602 - All`s Well That Ends Well
1604 - Othello
1605 - King Lear
1606 - Macbeth
1606 - Antony and Cleopatra
1607 - Timor of Athens

The Fourth Period


Shakespeare's allegorical plays belong to the fourth period at hisliterary work. Aperiod of
restored Serenity, of calm after storm, which marked the last year of the poets literary work.like,
o 1609 - Cymbeline

o
o
o
o

1610 - The Winter's le


1611 - The Tempest
1612 - King Henry VIII
Henry VIII (unfinished)

Ben Jonson(1572-1637)
Ben Jonson was an early playwright of Elizabethan Age, poet and actor whose popularity
rivalled that of Shakespeare or Marlowe.Hisfather died shortly before his birth, and his mother
remarried a bricklayer. Luckily for the clever youngboy,an unidentified friend paidfor Jonson to

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o
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o
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attend Westminster School. For Twenty Five years, ha was the literary dictator. He was
influenced more by French writers. His plays are,
The Alchemist
Sejanus His Fall
Every Man out of His Humour
Every Man in His Humour
The Poetaster
Volpone
Bartholomew Fair
The Staple of News
The Silent Woman
Ben Jonsons Every Man in His Humour is a first comedy is a key to allhis drams. The
words Humour in his are stood forsome characteristic whim or quality of society. Every Man
in His Humour, its special aim was to ridicule the humour of the city.
The three best known of Jonsons comedies are Volpone, the Alchemist and The Silent
Woman.Volponeis a keep and merciless analysis of a man governed by an overwhelming lone of
money for its own sake.

John Webster

o
o
o

He belonged to among major dramatists of the Elizabethan Age. Hisextraordinory


powers of expression rank him with Shakespeare.
Some famous dramas of Webster are
The Duches of Malfi
The White Devil
The Devils Law case
His talent seems to have been largely devoted to the bloodand thunder play .therefore, the
ranks among the greatest master of English Tragedy.

Francis Beaumont(1584-1616)

Beaumont was the brother of Sir John Beaumont, who came to London from oxford to
study law, but soon gave it up to write for the stage. The work of Beaumont is do closely
associated or interwoven that , thoughFletcher outlived Beaumont by nine years ,but later on
Fletcher wrote alone .Still many person class them together . And only scholars attempt to
separate their works so both come from noble and cultured families and were university trained.
His plays are:
The Woman Hater (1606)

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o
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o
o
o

The Coxcomb (160810)


The Maides Tragedy (160811)
The Captain (160912)
A King and No King (1611)
Cupids Revenge (1611)
The Scornful Ladie (161317)
Loves Pilgrimage (1616)

Role of Elizabethan Theatre in Development of Drama


The Elizabethan Theatre was a booming business. People loved the Theatre. The
Elizabethan plays and theatres were as popular as the movies and cinemas of the early 20th
century.In the Elizabethan the theatre was the focal point of the age. The Elizabethan theatre was
the voice and choice of the people. Plays were being performed as earlier it was no anything to
get entertainment. In the days of Elizabeth there were two theatres such as The Red Lion and The
Theatre in which most of the plays were performed.so it was it can be said that theatre has played
an instrumental role to raise the position of Elizabethan drama.

To Sum Up:
A few words more on the base of my reading, I must unfold that The Elizabethan Drama
was popular due to some giant as well as moverick dramatists like Shakespeare, Jonson, Lily,
Marlowe and Webster etc. And also Elizabethan theatre has played very significant role in
developing the drama. Therefore, Elizabethan Age can be considered as a golden period because
of such height of drama as it was on the pick.