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WEEK 1. BBL 3208 SHAKESPEARE AND R ENAISSANCE D RAMA -Overview of History of Elizabethan Era. Main objectives of the course are:. 2. By the end of this course, students are able to:  1. identify the Elizabethan dramatic convention (P1);

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  1. WEEK 1 BBL 3208 SHAKESPEAREAND RENAISSANCE DRAMA -Overview of History of Elizabethan Era.

  2. Main objectives of the course are: 2 By the end of this course, students are able to:  1. identify the Elizabethan dramatic convention (P1); 2. conduct detailed research regarding Shakespeare’s plays and his contemporaries (A4); 3. manage relevant information from various sources (LL1). Week One

  3. So, what do we need to do to achieve these objectives? 3 Week One

  4. The module used for this course 4 Week One


  6. HISTORY OF THE PERIOD Political Changes The century and a half following the death of Chaucer (1400-1550) is the most volcanic period of English history. The land is swept by vast changes, inseparable from the rapid accumulation of national power; but since power is the most dangerous of gifts until men have learned to control it, these changes seem at first to have no specific aim or direction. Henry V, whose unpredictable yet energetic life, as depicted by Shakespeare, was typical of the life of his times. Henry led his army abroad, in the apparently impossible attempt to gain for himself three things: a French wife, a French income, and the French crown itself.

  7. The battle of Agincourt was fought in 1415, and five years later, by the Treaty of Troyes, France acknowledged his right to all his outrageous demands. In the long reign of Henry VIII the changes are less violent, but have more purpose and significance. His age is marked by a steady increase in the national power at home and abroad, by the entrance of the Reformation, and by the final separation of England from all religious bondage. In previous reigns chivalry and the old feudal system had practically been banished; now monasticism, the third mediæval institution with its mixed evil and good, monasteries and the removal of abbots from the House of Lords was expected.

  8. While England during this period was in constant political strife, yet rising slowly to heights of national greatness was the introduction of the printing press. Printing was brought to England by Caxton (c. 1476), and for the first time in history it was possible for a book or an idea to reach the whole nation. Schools and universities were established in place of the old monasteries; Greek ideas and Greek culture came to England in the Renaissance, and man's spiritual freedom was proclaimed in the Reformation.

  9. The great names of the period are numerous and significant, but literature is strangely silent. Probably the very turmoil of the age prevented any literary development, for literature is one of the arts of peace; it requires quiet and meditation rather than activity, and the stirring life of the Renaissance had first to be lived before it could express itself in the new literature of the Elizabethan period.

  10. The term Renaissance, though used by many writers "to denote the whole transition from the Middle Ages to the modern world,"is more correctly applied to the revival of art resulting from the discovery and imitation of classic models in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Humanism applies to the revival of classic literature, and was so called by its leaders, following the example of Petrarch, because they held that the study of the classics, literae humaniores,--i.e. the "more human writings," rather than the old theology,--was the best means of promoting the largest human interests.

  11. The two greatest books which appeared in England during this period are undoubtedly Erasmus'sPraise of Folly (Encomium Moriae) and More's Utopia, the famous "Kingdom of Nowhere." Both were written in Latin, but were speedily translated into all European languages. The Praise of Folly is like a song of victory for the New Learning, which had driven away vice, ignorance, and superstition, the three foes of humanity. It was published in 1511 after the accession of Henry VIII. Folly is represented as donning cap and bells and mounting a platform, where the vice and cruelty of kings, the selfishness and ignorance of the clergy, and the foolish standards of education are satirized without mercy.

  12. More's Utopia, published in 1516, is a powerful and original study of social conditions, unlike anything which had ever appeared in any literature. More learns from a sailor, one of Amerigo Vespucci's companions, of a wonderful Kingdom of Nowhere, in which all questions of labor, government, society, and religion have been easily settled by simple justice and common sense. In this Utopia we find for the first time, as the foundations of civilized society, the three great words, Liberty, Fraternity, Equality, which retained their inspiration through all the violence of the French Revolution and which are still the unrealized ideal of every free government.

  13. As he hears of this wonderful country More wonders why, after fifteen centuries of Christianity, his own land is so little civilized; and as we read the book to-day we ask ourselves the same question. The splendid dream is still far from being realized; yet it seems as if any nation could become Utopia in a single generation, so simple and just are the requirements. Greater than either of these books, in its influence upon the common people, is Tyndale's translation of the New Testament (1525), which fixed a standard of good English, and at the same time brought that standard not only to scholars but to the homes of the common people.

  14. Tyndale made his translation from the original Greek, and later translated parts of the Old Testament from the Hebrew. • Much of Tyndale's work was included in Cranmer's Bible, known also as the Great Bible, in 1539, and was read in every parish church in England. • It was the foundation for the Authorized Version, which appeared nearly a century later and became the standard for the whole English-speaking race.

  15. THE AGE OF ELIZABETH (1550-1620)POLITICAL SUMMARY In the Age of Elizabeth all doubt seems to vanish from English history. After the reigns of Edward and Mary, with defeat and humiliation abroad and persecutions and rebellion at home, the accession of a popular sovereign was like the sunrise after a long night, and, in Milton's words, we suddenly see England, "a noble and puissant nation, rousing herself, like a strong man after sleep, and shaking her invincible locks."

  16. It is enough therefore, to point out two facts: that Elizabeth, with all her vanity and inconsistency, steadily loved England and England's greatness; and that she inspired all her people with the unbounded patriotism which exults in Shakespeare, and with the personal devotion which finds a voice in the Faery Queen. Under her administration the English national life progressed by gigantic leaps rather than by slow historical process, and English literature reached the very highest point of its development. It is possible to indicate only a few general characteristics of this great age which had a direct bearing upon its literature.

  17. Characteristics of the Elizabethan Age The most characteristic feature of the age was the comparative religious tolerance, which was due largely to the queen's influence. The frightful excesses of the religious war known as the Thirty Years' War on the Continent found no parallel in England. Upon her accession Elizabeth found the whole kingdom divided against itself; the North was largely Catholic, while the southern counties were as strongly Protestant.

  18. Scotland had followed the Reformation in its own intense way, while Ireland remained true to its old religious traditions, and both countries were openly rebellious. • The court, made up of both parties, witnessed the rival intrigues of those who sought to gain the royal favor. • It was due partly to the intense absorption of men's minds in religious questions that the preceding century, though an age of advancing learning, produced scarcely any literature worthy of the name.

  19. Elizabeth favored both religious parties, and presently the world saw with amazement Catholics and Protestants acting together as trusted counselors of a great sovereign. The defeat of the Spanish Armada established the Reformation as a fact in England, and at the same time united all Englishmen in a magnificent national enthusiasm.

  20. For the first time since the Reformation began, the fundamental question of religious toleration seemed to be settled, and the mind of man, freed from religious fears and persecutions, turned with a great creative impulse to other forms of activity. It is partly from this new freedom of the mind that the Age of Elizabeth received its great literary stimulus.

  21. It was an age of comparative social contentment, in strong contrast with the days of Langland. The rapid increase of manufacturing towns gave employment to thousands who had before been idle and discontented. Increasing trade brought enormous wealth to England, and this wealth was shared to this extent, at least, that for the first time some systematic care for the needy was attempted.

  22. Parishes were made responsible for their own poor, and the wealthy were taxed to support them or give them employment. The increase of wealth, the improvement in living, the opportunities for labor, the new social content--these also are factors which help to account for the new literary activity.

  23. It is an age of dreams, of adventure, of unbounded enthusiasm springing from the new lands of fabulous riches revealed by English explorers. Drake sails around the world, shaping the mighty course which English colonizers shall follow through the centuries; and presently the young philosopher Bacon is saying confidently, "I have taken all knowledge for my province."

  24. The mind must search farther than the eye; with new, rich lands opened to the sight, the imagination must create new forms to people the new worlds. Hakluyt's famous Collection of Voyages, and Purchas, His Pilgrimage, were even more stimulating to the English imagination than to the English acquisitiveness.

  25. While her explorers search the new world for the Fountain of Youth, her poets are creating literary works that are young forever. Marston writes: "Why, man, all their dripping pans are pure gold. The prisoners they take are fettered in gold; and as for rubies and diamonds, they goe forth on holydayes and gather 'hem by the seashore to hang on their children's coates."

  26. This comes nearer to being a description of Shakespeare's poetry than of the Indians in Virginia. Prospero, in The Tempest, with his control over the mighty powers and harmonies of nature, is only the literary dream of that science which had just begun to grapple with the forces of the universe. Cabot, Drake, Frobisher, Gilbert, Raleigh, Willoughby, Hawkins,--a score of explorers reveal a new earth to men's eyes, and instantly literature creates a new heaven to match it. So dreams and deeds increase side by side, and the dream is ever greater than the deed. That is the meaning of literature.

  27. To sum up, the Age of Elizabeth was a time of intellectual liberty, of growing intelligence and comfort among all classes, of unbounded patriotism, and of peace at home and abroad. For a parallel we must go back to the Age of Pericles in Athens, or of Augustus in Rome, or go forward a little to the magnificent court of Louis XIV, when Corneille, Racine, and Molière brought the drama in France to the point where Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Jonson had left it in England half a century earlier.

  28. Such an age of great thought and great action, appealing to the eyes as well as to the imagination and intellect, finds but one adequate literary expression; neither poetry nor the story can express the whole man,--his thought, feeling, action, and the resulting character; hence in the Age of Elizabeth literature turned instinctively to the drama and brought it rapidly to the highest stage of its development.

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