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afterpiece/afterpiece supplementary entertainment presented after full-length plays in 18th-century England. Afterpieces usually took the form of a short comedy, farce, or pantomime, and were intended to lighten the solemnity of Neoclassical drama and make the bill more attractive to audiences. Long theatre programs that included interludes of music, song, and dance developed in the first 20 years of the 18th century, promoted primarily by John Rich at Lincoln's Inn Fields in order to compete with the Drury Lane. The addition of afterpieces to the regular program may also have been an attempt to attract working citizens, who often missed the early opening production and paid a reduced charge to be admitted later, usually at the end of the third act of a five-act play.Before 1747, afterpieces were generally presented with old plays, but after that date, almost all new plays were accompanied by afterpieces as well. Although farce and pantomime were the most popular forms of afterpiece, other kinds included processions, burlettas or burlesques, music, and ballad operas, which gained popularity after the success of John Gay's Beggar's Opera in 1728.

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blank verse/blank-verse unrhymed iambic pentameter, the preeminent dramatic and narrative verse form in English and also the standard form for dramatic verse in Italian and German. Its richness and versatility depend on the skill of the poet in varying the stresses and the position of the caesura (pause) in each line, in catching the shifting tonal qualities and emotional overtones of the language, and in arranging lines into thought groups and paragraphs.Adapted from unrhymed Greek and Latin heroic verse, blank verse was introduced in 16th-century Italy along with other classical metres. The Italian humanist Francesco Maria Molza attempted the writing of consecutive unrhymed verse in 1514 in his translation of Virgil's Aeneid. Other experiments in 16th-century Italy were the tragedy Sofonisba (written 1514–15) by Gian Giorgio Trissino, and the didactic poem Le api (1539) by Giovanni Rucellai. Rucellai was the first to use the term versi sciolti, which became translated into English as “blank verse.” It soon became the standard metre of Italian Renaissance drama, used in such major works as the comedies of Ludovico Ariosto, L'Aminta of Torquato Tasso, and the Il pastor fido of Battista Guarini.Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, introduced the metre, along with the sonnet and other Italian humanist verse forms, to England in the early 16th century. Thomas Sackville and Thomas Norton used blank verse for the first English tragic drama, Gorboduc (first performed 1561), and Christopher Marlowe developed its musical qualities and emotional power in Tamburlaine, Doctor Faustus, and Edward II. William Shakespeare transformed the line and the instrument of blank verse into the vehicle for the greatest English dramatic poetry. In his early plays, he combined it with prose and a 10-syllable rhymed couplet; he later employed a blank verse dependent on stress rather than on syllabic length. Shakespeare's poetic expression in his later plays, such as Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, Macbeth, and The Winter's Tale, is supple, approximating the rhythms of speech, yet capable of conveying the subtlest human delight, grief, or perplexity.After a period of debasement, blank verse was restored to its former grandeur by John Milton in Paradise Lost (1667). Milton's verse is intellectually complex, yet flexible, using inversions, Latinized words, and all manner of stress, line length, variation of pause, and paragraphing to gain descriptive and dramatic effect. In the 18th century, James Thomson used blank verse in his long descriptive poem The Seasons, and Edward Young's Night Thoughts uses it with power and passion. Later, William Wordsworth wrote his autobiography of the poetic spirit, The Prelude (completed 1805–06; published 1850), in blank verse; Percy Bysshe Shelley used it in his drama The Cenci (1819), as did John Keats in Hyperion (1820). The extreme flexibility of blank verse can be seen in its range from the high tragedy of Shakespeare to the low-keyed, conversational tone of Robert Frost in A Masque of Reason (1945). Blank verse was established in German drama by Gotthold Lessing's Nathan der Weise (1779). Examples of its use are found in the writings of Goethe, Schiller, and Gerhart Hauptmann. It was also used extensively in Swedish, Russian, and Polish dramatic verse.

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Cavalier poet/Cavalier-poet any of a group of English gentlemen poets, called Cavaliers because of their loyalty to Charles I (1625–49) during the English Civil Wars, as opposed to Roundheads, who supported Parliament. They were also cavaliers in their style of life and counted the writing of polished and elegant lyrics as only one of their many accomplishments as soldiers, courtiers, gallants, and wits. The term embraces Richard Lovelace, Thomas Carew, Sir John Suckling, Edmund Waller, and Robert Herrick. Although Herrick, a clergyman, was detached from the court, his short, fluent, graceful lyrics on love and dalliance, and his carpe diem (“seize the day”) philosophy (“Gather ye rose-buds while ye may”) are typical of the Cavalier style. Besides writing love lyrics addressed to mistresses with fanciful names like Anthea, Althea, Lucasta, or Amarantha, the Cavaliers sometimes wrote of war, honour, and their duty to the king. Sometimes they deftly combined all these themes as in Richard Lovelace's well-known poem, “To Lucasta, Going to the Wars,” which ends,I could not love thee, dear, so muchLoved I not honour more.

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chronicle playalso called chronicle history or history play /chronicle-play drama with a theme from history consisting usually of loosely connected episodes chronologically arranged.Plays of this type typically lay emphasis on the public welfare by pointing to the past as a lesson for the present, and the genre is often characterized by its assumption of a national consciousness in its audience. It has flourished in times of intensely nationalistic feeling, notably in England from the 1580s until the 1630s, by which time it was “out of fashion,” according to the prologue of John Ford's play Perkin Warbeck. Early examples of the chronicle play include The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth, The Life and Death of Jacke Straw, The Troublesome Raigne of John King of England, and The True Tragedie of Richard III. The genre came to maturity with the work of Christopher Marlowe (Edward II) and William Shakespeare (Henry VI, parts 2 and 3).In An Apology for Actors (1612) the dramatist Thomas Heywood wrote that chronicle playsare writ with this ayme, and carryed with this methode, to teach their subjects obedience to their king, to shew the people the untimely ends of such as have moved tumults, commotions, and insurrections, to present them with the flourishing estate of such as live in obedience, exhorting them to allegeance, dehorting them from all trayterous and fellonious stratagems.At the same time, it was argued that the overthrow of a tyrant (such as Richard III, according to the Tudor reading of events) was right and proper.Elizabethan dramatists drew their material from the wealth of chronicle writing for which the age is renowned, notably Edward Hall's The Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Famelies of Lancastre & Yorke and the Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande of Raphael Holinshed. The genre was a natural development from the morality plays of the Middle Ages. In a forerunner of the chronicle play, John Bale's Kynge Johan, all the characters except the king himself are allegorical and have names such as Widow England, Sedition, and Private Wealth.No age has matched the Elizabethan, either in England or elsewhere, in this kind of play. But chronicle plays are still sometimes written—for example, by the 20th-century English playwright John Arden (Left-Handed Liberty, Armstrong's Last Goodnight)—and the genre corresponds in many respects, especially in its didactic purpose and episodic structure, with the influential 20th-century epic theatre of Bertolt Brecht in Germany and Tony Kushner in the United States, specifically Kushner's AIDS drama Angels in America, which debuted on Broadway in 1993.

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couplet/couplet a pair of end-rhymed lines of verse that are self-contained in grammatical structure and meaning. A couplet may be formal (or closed), in which case each of the two lines is end-stopped, or it may be run-on (or open), with the meaning of the first line continuing to the second (this is called enjambment). Couplets are most frequently used as units of composition in long poems, but, since they lend themselves to pithy, epigrammatic statements, they are often composed as independent poems or function as parts of other verse forms, such as the Shakespearean sonnet, which is concluded with a couplet. In French narrative and dramatic poetry, the rhyming alexandrine (12-syllable line) is the dominant couplet form, and German and Dutch verse of the 17th and 18th centuries reflects the influence of the alexandrine couplet. The term couplet is also commonly substituted for stanza in French versification. A “square” couplet, for example, is a stanza of eight lines, with each line composed of eight syllables. The preeminent English couplet is the heroic couplet, or two rhyming lines of iambic pentameter with a caesura (pause), usually medial, in each line. Introduced by Chaucer in the 14th century, the heroic couplet was perfected by John Dryden and Alexander Pope in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. An example isThen share thy pain, allow that sad relief;Ah, more than share it, give me all thy grief.(Alexander Pope, “Eloisa to Abelard”)Couplets were also frequently introduced into the blank verse of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama for heightened dramatic emphasis at the conclusion of a long speech or in running dialogue, as in the following example:Think what you will, we seize into our handsHis plate, his goods, his money, and his lands.(William Shakespeare, Richard II)

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Ercles vein/Ercles-vein a rousing, somewhat bombastic manner of public speaking or writing. In William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (Act I, scene 2), “Ercles' vein” is Bottom's expression for the style of speech he considers appropriate to the character of “Ercles,” i.e., Hercules.

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First Folio/First-Folio Title page of the First Folio, the first published edition (1623) of the collected works of William …Photos.com/Jupiterimagesfirst published edition (1623) of the collected works of William Shakespeare, originally published as Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories & Tragedies. It is the major source for contemporary texts of his plays.The publication of drama in the early 17th century was usually left to the poorer members of the Stationers' Company (which issued licenses) and to outright pirates. The would-be publisher had only to get hold of a manuscript, by fair means or foul, enter it as his copy (or dispense with the formality), and have it printed. Such a man was Thomas Thorpe, the publisher of Shakespeare's sonnets (1609). The mysterious “Mr. W.H.” in the dedication is thought by some to be the person who procured him his copy.The first Shakespeare play to be published (Titus Andronicus, 1594) was printed by a notorious pirate, John Danter, who also brought out, anonymously, a defective Romeo and Juliet (1597), largely from shorthand notes made during performance. Eighteen of Shakespeare's plays were printed in quartos (books about half the size of a modern magazine) both “good” and “bad” before the First Folio (a large-format book) was published in 1623. The bad quartos are defective editions, usually with badly garbled or missing text.For the First Folio, a large undertaking of more than 900 pages, a syndicate of five men was formed, headed by Edward Blount and William Jaggard. The actors John Heminge and Henry Condell undertook the collection of 36 of Shakespeare's plays, and about 1,000 copies of the First Folio were printed, none too well, by Jaggard's son, Isaac.In 1632 a second folio was issued and in 1663 a third. The second printing (1664) of the latter included Pericles (which otherwise exists only in a bad quarto) and several other plays of dubious attribution, including The Two Noble Kinsmen (which appeared in a quarto of 1634 and is now thought to have been a collaboration of Shakespeare and John Fletcher) and Cardenio (now lost), as well as The London Prodigal and The History of Thomas Lord Cromwell. In 1685 the fourth and final folio was published.

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heroic stanzaalso called heroic quatrain /heroic-stanza in poetry, a rhymed quatrain in heroic verse with rhyme scheme abab. The form was used by William Shakespeare and John Dryden, among others, and was also called an elegiac stanza after the publication in the mid-18th century of Thomas Gray's poem “An Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard.”

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iamb/iamb metrical foot consisting of one short syllable (as in classical verse) or one unstressed syllable (as in English verse) followed by one long or stressed syllable, as in the word {breve}be|cause¢ . Considered by the ancient Greeks to approximate the natural rhythm of speech, iambic metres were used extensively for dramatic dialogue, invective, satire, and fables. Also suited to the cadence of the English language, iambic rhythms, especially iambic tetrameter and pentameter, are the preeminent metres of English verse. Substitution of other types of feet to add variety is common in basically iambic verse. An example of iambic metre is the English ballad, composed of quatrains written in alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter.

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interlude/interlude in theatre, early form of English dramatic entertainment, sometimes considered to be the transition between medieval morality plays and Tudor dramas. Interludes were performed at court or at “great houses” by professional minstrels or amateurs at intervals between some other entertainment, such as a banquet, or preceding or following a play, or between acts. Although most interludes were sketches of a nonreligious nature, some plays were called interludes that are today classed as morality plays. John Heywood, one of the most famous interlude writers, brought the genre to perfection in his The Play of the Wether (1533) and The Playe Called the Foure P.P. (c. 1544). The earl of Essex is known to have had a company of interlude players in 1468; the first royal company was apparently established in 1493.

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Lord of Misrulealso called Abbot Of Misrule, or King Of Misrule, /Lord-of-Misrule official of the late medieval and early Tudor period in England, who was specially appointed to manage the Christmas festivities held at court, in the houses of great noblemen, in the law schools of the Inns of Court, and in many of the colleges at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford. During his reign, which lasted anywhere from 12 days to 3 months, the Lord of Misrule was responsible for arranging and directing all Christmas entertainment, including elaborate masques and processions, plays, and feasts. The lord himself usually presided over these affairs with a mock court and received comic homage from the revelers.Scotland had an official similar to the Lord of Misrule, known as the Abbot of Unreason (suppressed in 1555), and both are thought by scholars to be descended from the “king” or “bishop” who presided over the earlier Feast of Fools. Another related functionary was the Boy Bishop, the leader of children's Christmas festivities in the choir schools.After the death of Edward VI in 1553, the English court ceased to appoint a Lord of Misrule. See also Master of the Revels.

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masquealso spelled mask /masque festival or entertainment in which disguised participants offer gifts to their host and then join together for a ceremonial dance. A typical masque consisted of a band of costumed and masked persons of the same sex who, accompanied by torchbearers, arrived at a social gathering to dance and converse with the guests. The masque could be simply a procession of such persons introduced by a presenter, or it could be an elaborately staged show in which a brief lyrical drama heralded the appearance of masquers, who, having descended from their pageant to perform figured dances, reveled with the guests until summoned back into their pageant by farewell speeches and song. The theme of the drama presented during a masque was usually mythological, allegorical, or symbolic and was designed to be complimentary to the noble or royal host of the social gathering.Most likely originating in primitive religious rites and folk ceremonies known as disguising, or mummery, masques evolved into elaborate court spectacles that, under various names, entertained royalty throughout Europe. In Renaissance Italy, under the patronage of Lorenzo de Medici, the intermezzo became known for its emphasis on song, dance, scenery, and stage machinery. No matter how literary, the intermezzi invariably included a dance or masked ball where the guests mingled with the actors. A nondramatic form, the trionfo, or triumph, evolved from these Italian court masques and, arriving in France, gave rise to the ballet de cour and the more spectacular masquerade.During the 16th century the European continental masque traveled to Tudor England, where it became a court entertainment played before the king. Gorgeous costumes, spectacular scenery with elaborate machinery to move it on- and offstage, and rich allegorical verse marked the English masque. During the reign of Elizabeth I the masque provided a vehicle for compliments paid to the queen at her palace and during her summer tours through England. Under James I and Charles I masques were usually presented at court.Detail of a design by Inigo Jones for a procession in The Masque of Augures by Ben …Reproduced by permission of the Trustees of the Chatsworth SettlementUnder the Stuarts the masque reached its zenith when Ben Jonson became court poet. He endowed the form with great literary as well as social force. In 1605 Jonson and the scene designer Inigo Jones produced the first of many excellent masques, which they continued to collaborate on until 1634. Jonson invented the antimasque—also known as the antemasque, the false masque, and the antic masque—and produced the first in 1609. It took place before the main masque, concentrated on grotesque elements, and provided a direct contrast to the elegance of the masque that followed. In later years the masque developed into opera, and the antimasque became primarily a farce or pantomime. After Jonson's retirement, masques lost their literary value and became mainly vehicles for spectacle.Masque entertainments in England ceased with the beginning of the English Civil Wars, and later revivals never equaled the originals.

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Master of the Revels/Master-of-the-Revels English court official, who, from Tudor times up until the Licensing Act of 1737, supervised the production and financing of often elaborate court entertainments. He later was the official issuer of licenses to theatres and theatrical companies and the censor of publicly performed plays.A Master of the Revels was first appointed about 1495, and the Revels office soon developed a complicated system for building and painting spectacular scenery. In 1545 Sir Thomas Cawarden became master for life, and thereafter the office assumed importance. Decrees in 1581 and 1603 gave the Master of Revels licensing, censorship, and fee-collecting powers. The prestige of the office reached its high point during the mastership of Sir Henry Herbert (1623–42), after which England's theatres were closed during the Puritan interregnum. After the Restoration (1660), Herbert was reinstalled as master until his death in 1673, but the office was gradually stripped of its power. The Licensing Act of 1737 abolished it entirely, granting the power of censorship directly to the Lord Chamberlain. Although the Revels office did not have exclusive control over all court entertainment, the accounts and detailed records of the office are a valuable source for information on elaborate court productions from the 15th through the early 18th century.

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miracle playalso called Saint's Play, /miracle-play one of three principal kinds of vernacular drama of the European Middle Ages (along with the mystery play and the morality play). A miracle play presents a real or fictitious account of the life, miracles, or martyrdom of a saint. The genre evolved from liturgical offices developed during the 10th and 11th centuries to enhance calendar festivals. By the 13th century they had become vernacularized and filled with unecclesiastical elements. They had been divorced from church services and were performed at public festivals. Almost all surviving miracle plays concern either the Virgin Mary or St. Nicholas, the 4th-century bishop of Myra in Asia Minor. Both Mary and Nicholas had active cults during the Middle Ages, and belief in the healing powers of saintly relics was widespread. In this climate, miracle plays flourished.The Mary plays consistently involve her in the role of deus ex machina, coming to the aid of all who invoke her, be they worthy or wanton. She saves, for example, a priest who has sold his soul to the devil, a woman falsely accused of murdering her own child, and a pregnant abbess. Typical of these is a play called St. John the Hairy. At the outset the title character seduces and murders a princess. Upon capture, he is proclaimed a saint by an infant. He confesses his crime, whereupon God and Mary appear and aid John in reviving the princess, which done, the murderer saint is made a bishop.The Nicholas plays are similar, an example being Jean Bodel's Le Jeu de Saint Nicolas (c. 1200), which details the deliverance of a crusader and the conversion of a Saracen king. Few English miracle plays are extant, because they were banned by Henry VIII in the mid-16th century and most were subsequently destroyed or lost.

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morality playalso called morality /morality-play an allegorical drama popular in Europe especially during the 15th and 16th centuries, in which the characters personify moral qualities (such as charity or vice) or abstractions (as death or youth) and in which moral lessons are taught.Together with the mystery play and the miracle play, the morality play is one of the three main types of vernacular drama produced during the Middle Ages. The action of the morality play centres on a hero, such as Mankind, whose inherent weaknesses are assaulted by such personified diabolic forces as the Seven Deadly Sins but who may choose redemption and enlist the aid of such figures as the Four Daughters of God (Mercy, Justice, Temperance, and Truth).Morality plays were an intermediate step in the transition from liturgical to professional secular drama, and combine elements of each. They were performed by quasi-professional groups of actors who relied on public support; thus the plays were usually short, their serious themes tempered by elements of farce. In the Dutch play Het esbatement den appelboom (“The Miraculous Apple Tree”), for example, a pious couple, Staunch Goodfellow and Steadfast Faith, are rewarded when God creates for them an everbearing apple tree with the property that whoever touches it without permission becomes stuck fast. This leads to predictable and humorous consequences.Ulrike Folkerts (far right) as Death and Peter Simonischek (second from right) as Everyman …Josch—AFP/Getty ImagesThe most famous of the French morality plays is Nicolas de la Chesnaye's Condemnation des banquets (1507), which argues for moderation by showing the bad end that awaits a company of unrepentant revelers, including Gluttony and Watering Mouth. Among the oldest of morality plays surviving in English is The Castle of Perseverance (c. 1425), about the battle for the soul of Humanum Genus. A plan for the staging of one performance has survived that depicts an outdoor theatre-in-the-round with the castle of the title at the centre. Of all morality plays, the one that is considered the greatest, and that is still performed, is Everyman.

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mumming playalso called mummers' play /mumming-play traditional dramatic entertainment, still performed in a few villages in England and Northern Ireland, in which a champion is killed in a fight and is then brought to life by a doctor. It is thought likely that the play has links with primitive ceremonies held to mark important stages in the agricultural year. The name has been connected with words such as mumble and mute; with the German mumme (“mask,” “masker”); and with the Greek mommo (denoting a child's bugbear, or a frightening mask).Mummers were originally bands of masked persons who during winter festivals in Europe paraded the streets and entered houses to dance or play dice in silence. “Momerie” was a popular amusement between the 13th and 16th century. In the 16th century it was absorbed by the Italian carnival masquerading (and hence was a forerunner of the courtly entertainment known as masque).It is not known how old the mumming play is. Although contemporary references to it do not begin to appear until the late 18th century, the basic narrative framework is the story of St. George and the Seven Champions of Christendom, which was first popularized in England toward the end of the 16th century. It is possible that there was a common (lost) original play, which widely separated communities in England, Ireland, and Scotland modified to their own use. The plot remained essentially the same: St. George, introduced as a gallant Christian hero, fights an infidel knight, and one of them is slain. A doctor is then presented, who restores the dead warrior to life. Other characters include a presenter, a fool in cap and bells, and a man dressed in woman's clothes. Father Christmas also appears. It is likely that the basic story of death and resurrection was grafted onto an older game that stemmed from primitive ritual.

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mystery playSetting for the Valenciennes mystery play, miniature by Hubert Cailleau, 1547; in the …Courtesy of the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris/mystery-play Setting for the Valenciennes mystery play, miniature by Hubert Cailleau, 1547; in the …Courtesy of the Bibliothèque Nationale, Parisone of three principal kinds of vernacular drama in Europe during the Middle Ages (along with the miracle play and the morality play). The mystery plays, usually representing biblical subjects, developed from plays presented in Latin by churchmen on church premises and depicted such subjects as the Creation, Adam and Eve, the murder of Abel, and the Last Judgment.During the 13th century, various guilds began producing the plays in the vernacular at sites removed from the churches. Under these conditions, the strictly religious nature of the plays declined, and they became filled with irrelevancies and apocryphal elements. Furthermore, satirical elements were introduced to mock physicians, soldiers, judges, and even monks and priests. In England, over the course of decades, groups of 25 to 50 plays were organized into lengthy cycles, such as the Chester plays and the Wakefield plays. In France a single play, The Acts of the Apostles by Arnoul and Simon Gréban, contained 494 speaking parts and 61,908 lines of rhymed verse; it took 40 days to perform. They died out in many areas with the Reformation.The form in which the mystery plays developed contributed to their demise at the end of the 16th century. The church no longer supported them because of their dubious religious value, Renaissance scholars found little of interest in their great rambling texts, and the general public preferred professional traveling companies that were beginning to arrive from Italy. In England the mystery cycles and miracle plays were suspected of Roman Catholic tendencies and were gradually suppressed.At their height, the mystery plays were quite elaborate in their production. In England they were generally performed on pageant wagons, which provided both scaffold stage and dressing room and could be moved about readily. In France and Italy, however, a production might take place on a stage 100 feet (30 m) wide, with paradise represented at one end of the stage, hell at the other, and earthly scenes between the two. The plays did not attempt to achieve unity of time, place, and action, and therefore they could represent any number of different geographic locations and climates in juxtaposition. Mechanical devices, trapdoors, and other artifices were employed to portray flying angels, fire-spouting monsters, miraculous transformations, and graphic martyrdoms.

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pentameter/pentameter in poetry, a line of verse containing five metrical feet. In English verse, in which pentameter has been the predominant metre since the 16th century, the preferred foot is the iamb—i.e., an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one, represented in scansion as {breve} ¢.Geoffrey Chaucer employed iambic pentameter in The Canterbury Tales as early as the 14th century, although without the regularity that is found later in the heroic couplets of John Dryden and Alexander Pope. Most English sonnets have been written in iambic pentameter.

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revenge tragedy/revenge-tragedy drama in which the dominant motive is revenge for a real or imagined injury; it was a favourite form of English tragedy in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras and found its highest expression in William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Title page of a 1615 edition of Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy.Public Domain PhotoThe revenge drama derived originally from the Roman tragedies of Seneca but was established on the English stage by Thomas Kyd with The Spanish Tragedy (c. 1590). This work, which opens with the Ghost of Andrea and Revenge, deals with Hieronimo, a Spanish gentleman who is driven to melancholy by the murder of his son. Between spells of madness, he discovers who the murderers are and plans his ingenious revenge. He stages a play in which the murderers take part, and, while enacting his role, Hieronimo actually kills them, then kills himself. The influence of this play, so apparent in Hamlet (performed c. 1600–01), is also evident in other plays of the period. In John Marston's Antonio's Revenge (1602), the ghost of Antonio's slain father urges Antonio to avenge his murder, which Antonio does during a court masque. In George Chapman's Revenge of Bussy d'Ambois (performed c. 1610), Bussy's ghost begs his introspective brother Clermont to avenge his murder. Clermont hesitates and vacillates but at last complies, then kills himself. Most revenge tragedies end with a scene of carnage that disposes of the avenger as well as his victims. Other examples are Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus (performed 1593–94), Henry Chettle's Tragedy of Hoffman (performed 1602), and Thomas Middleton's Revenger's Tragedy (1607).

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Senecan tragedy/Senecan-tragedy body of nine closet dramas (i.e., plays intended to be read rather than performed), written in blank verse by the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca in the 1st century AD. Rediscovered by Italian humanists in the mid-16th century, they became the models for the revival of tragedy on the Renaissance stage. The two great, but very different, dramatic traditions of the age—French Neoclassical tragedy and Elizabethan tragedy—both drew inspiration from Seneca.Seneca's plays were reworkings chiefly of Euripides' dramas and also of works of Aeschylus and Sophocles. Probably meant to be recited at elite gatherings, they differ from their originals in their long declamatory, narrative accounts of action, their obtrusive moralizing, and their bombastic rhetoric. They dwell on detailed accounts of horrible deeds and contain long reflective soliloquies. Though the gods rarely appear in these plays, ghosts and witches abound. In an age when the Greek originals were scarcely known, Seneca's plays were mistaken for high Classical drama. The Renaissance scholar J.C. Scaliger (1484–1558), who knew both Latin and Greek, preferred Seneca to Euripides.French Neoclassical dramatic tradition, which reached its highest expression in the 17th-century tragedies of Pierre Corneille and Jean Racine, drew on Seneca for form and grandeur of style. These Neoclassicists adopted Seneca's innovation of the confidant (usually a servant), his substitution of speech for action, and his moral hairsplitting.The Elizabethan dramatists found Seneca's themes of bloodthirsty revenge more congenial to English taste than they did his form. The first English tragedy, Gorboduc (1561), by Thomas Sackville and Thomas Norton, is a chain of slaughter and revenge written in direct imitation of Seneca. Senecan tragedy is also evident in Shakespeare's Hamlet; the revenge theme, the corpse-strewn climax, and such points of stage machinery as the ghost can all be traced back to the Senecan model.

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sonnet/sonnet fixed verse form of Italian origin consisting of 14 lines that are typically five-foot iambics rhyming according to a prescribed scheme.The sonnet is unique among poetic forms in Western literature in that it has retained its appeal for major poets for five centuries. The form seems to have originated in the 13th century among the Sicilian school of court poets, who were influenced by the love poetry of Provençal troubadours. From there it spread to Tuscany, where it reached its highest expression in the 14th century in the poems of Petrarch. His Canzoniere—a sequence of poems including 317 sonnets, addressed to his idealized beloved, Laura—established and perfected the Petrarchan (or Italian) sonnet, which remains one of the two principal sonnet forms, as well as the one most widely used. The other major form is the English (or Shakespearean) sonnet.The Petrarchan sonnet characteristically treats its theme in two parts. The first eight lines, the octave, state a problem, ask a question, or express an emotional tension. The last six lines, the sestet, resolve the problem, answer the question, or relieve the tension. The octave is rhymed abbaabba. The rhyme scheme of the sestet varies; it may be cdecde, cdccdc, or cdedce. The Petrarchan sonnet became a major influence on European poetry. It soon became naturalized in Spain, Portugal, and France and was introduced to Poland, whence it spread to other Slavic literatures. In most cases the form was adapted to the staple metre of the language—e.g., the alexandrine (12-syllable iambic line) in France and iambic pentameter in English.The sonnet was introduced to England, along with other Italian verse forms, by Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, earl of Surrey, in the 16th century. The new forms precipitated the great Elizabethan flowering of lyric poetry, and the period marks the peak of the sonnet's English popularity. In the course of adapting the Italian form to a language less rich in rhymes, the Elizabethans gradually arrived at the distinctive English sonnet, which is composed of three quatrains, each having an independent rhyme scheme, and is ended with a rhymed couplet.The rhyme scheme of the English sonnet is abab cdcd efef gg. Its greater number of rhymes makes it a less demanding form than the Petrarchan sonnet, but this is offset by the difficulty presented by the couplet, which must summarize the impact of the preceding quatrains with the compressed force of a Greek epigram. An example is Shakespeare's Sonnet CXVI:Let me not to the marriage of true mindsAdmit impediments. Love is not loveWhich alters when it alteration finds,Or bends with the remover to remove:Oh, no! it is an ever-fixéd mark,That looks on tempests and is never shaken;It is the star to every wandering bark,Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeksWithin his bending sickle's compass come;Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,But bears it out even to the edge of doom.If this be error and upon me proved,I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

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The typical Elizabethan use of the sonnet was in a sequence of love poems in the manner of Petrarch. Although each sonnet was an independent poem, partly conventional in content and partly self-revelatory, the sequence had the added interest of providing something of a narrative development. Among the notable Elizabethan sequences are Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophel and Stella (1591), Samuel Daniel's Delia (1592), Michael Drayton's Idea's Mirrour (1594), and Edmund Spenser's Amoretti (1591). The last-named work uses a common variant of the sonnet (known as Spenserian) that follows the English quatrain and couplet pattern but resembles the Italian in using a linked rhyme scheme: abab bcbc cdcd ee. Perhaps the greatest of all sonnet sequences is Shakespeare's, addressed to a young man and a “dark lady.” In these sonnets the supposed love story is of less interest than the underlying reflections on time and art, growth and decay, and fame and fortune.In its subsequent development the sonnet was to depart even further from themes of love. By the time John Donne wrote his religious sonnets (c. 1610) and Milton wrote sonnets on political and religious subjects or on personal themes such as his blindness (i.e., “When I consider how my light is spent”), the sonnet had been extended to embrace nearly all the subjects of poetry.It is the virtue of this short form that it can range from “light conceits of lovers” to considerations of life, time, death, and eternity, without doing injustice to any of them. Even during the Romantic era, in spite of the emphasis on freedom and spontaneity, the sonnet forms continued to challenge major poets. Many English writers—including William Wordsworth, John Keats, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning—continued to write Petrarchan sonnets. One of the best-known examples of this in English is Wordsworth's “The World Is Too Much With Us”:The world is too much with us; late and soon,Getting and spending, we lay wasteour powers;Little we see in Nature that is ours;We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,The winds that will be howling at all hours,And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,For this, for everything, we are out of tune;It moves us not.—Great God! I'd rather beA Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,Have glimpses that would make meless forlorn;Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;Or hear old Triton blow his wreathéd horn.In the later 19th century the love sonnet sequence was revived by Elizabeth Barrett Browning in Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850) and by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in The House of Life (1876). The most distinguished 20th-century work of the kind is Rainer Maria Rilke's Sonnette an Orpheus (1922).

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tercetalso spelled tiercet /tercet a unit or group of three lines of verse, usually containing rhyme, as in William Shakespeare's “The Phoenix and the Turtle”: Death is now the phoenix' nest; And the turtle's loyal breastTo eternity doth rest,…

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university wits/university-wits the notable group of pioneer English dramatists who wrote during the last 15 years of the 16th century and who transformed the native interlude and chronicle play with their plays of quality and diversity.The university wits include Christopher Marlowe, Robert Greene, and Thomas Nashe (all graduates of Cambridge), as well as Thomas Lodge and George Peele (both of Oxford). Another of the wits, though not university-trained, was Thomas Kyd. Preceded by John Lyly (an Oxford man), they prepared the way for William Shakespeare. The greatest poetic dramatist among them was Marlowe, whose handling of blank verse gave the theatre its characteristic voice for the next 50 years.

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Venus and Adonis stanza/Venus-and-Adonis-stanza a stanza consisting of an iambic pentameter quatrain and couplet with the rhyme scheme ababcc. The stanza was so called because it was used by William Shakespeare in his poem Venus and Adonis (1593).

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war of the theatres/war-of-the-theatres in English literary history, conflict involving the Elizabethan playwrights Ben Jonson, John Marston, and Thomas Dekker. It covered a period when Jonson was writing for one children's company of players and Marston for another, rival group.In 1599 Marston presented a mildly satirical portrait of Jonson in his Histrio-mastix. That same year Jonson replied in Every Man Out of His Humour, ridiculing Marston's style as “fustian.” Some scholars have thought that the character of Brabant Senior in Marston's Jack Drum's Entertainment (1599) was a lampoon on Jonson, though this is disputed. Marston certainly thought himself attacked in Jonson's Cynthia's Revels (c. 1600), and he satirized Jonson as Lampatho Doria in What You Will (1601). Meanwhile, in Poetaster (1601) Jonson represented Marston as an inferior poet and a plagiarist; he also extended the attack to Dekker, satirized as a hack playwright. Dekker replied with Satiro-mastix (1601), which lampooned Jonson as “the humorous poet.” The quarrel had been patched up by 1604, when Marston dedicated The Malcontent to Jonson.Some scholars have seen the quarrel as based on a difference of opinion about the nature of drama; it was certainly sharpened by the intense competition that existed between children's companies at the time, which were so popular that in Hamlet Shakespeare refers to the fact that adult actors were forced to undertake provincial tours because of the boys' popularity.

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Reference:Encyclopedia Britannica’s guide to Shakespeare http://search.eb.com/shakespeare/article-9021895For further reading: http://search.eb.com/shakespeare