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Elizabethan Drama. What is a tragedy ? Why do people write/watch tragedies?. A Movement from Religious to Secular within the Theatre. Previously, most of the drama done was in the church in order to help educate the people about their religion Cycle plays were used to reenact history

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Elizabethan Drama

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elizabethan drama
Elizabethan Drama
  • What is a tragedy?
  • Why do people write/watch tragedies?
a movement from religious to secular within the theatre
A Movement from Religious to Secular within the Theatre
  • Previously, most of the drama done was in the church in order to help educate the people about their religion
  • Cycle plays were used to reenact history
    • Creation by God
    • Human’s fall to Satan
    • Life during the Old Testament times
    • Redemption by Christ
    • Final judgment at the end of the world
  • In the 14th century the plays began to move out into the town courtyards where they began to take on a more secular tone
what is going on with theatre
What is going on with Theatre?
  • Miracle and mystery plays
    • Used to teach stories from the Bible
  • Moralities
    • Used to show people how they should live and die
  • Interlude
    • One-act plays
    • Some used the framework of the Moralities
    • Other were written for entertainment and could be quite farcical
writing and developing plays
Writing and Developing Plays
  • Scholars and writers were viewing the world with a more humanistic view (they were no longer focusing all their attention on studying of the divine)
  • Though the views were more humanistic medieval practices and conventions dominated English theatre through most of the 16th century
  • Playwrights were constantly intertwining secular and ecclesiastical stories
  • Mixed both comic and serious
  • Many bloody plots were used during this time
  • King Henry VIII created the Church of England and the secular writing was more common
tragedy and tragic heroes
Tragedy and Tragic Heroes
  • Elizabethan Tragedy- a dramatic form in which a character of high rank is involved in a struggle that ends in disaster
  • Elizabethan Tragic Hero- main character with a tragic flaw (usually excessive ambition, pride, jealousy, or some other human frailty—How is this different than a Greek TH?)
  • Catharsis – purging of emotion, usually pity or fear
  • Fatal Flaw (Hamartia or Tragic Flaw) – a fatal weakness in the character that causes this person to become enmeshed in events that lead to his or her downfall
  • Hubris – excessive pride or self-confidence
  • Iambic Pentameter- five sets of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable (dun-DUN)
    • (Shall I comPARE thee TO a SUMmer’s DAY?)
  • Blank Verse- unrhymed poetry written in iambic pentameter. Usually spoken by the noble characters, or when someone is being very serious.
words words words
Words, Words, Words
  • Soliloquy- longer speech in which a character—usually alone on stage—speaks as if to him/herself
  • Monologue- a long uninterrupted speech by one character that others can hear
  • Aside- a brief comment a character makes to reveal his/her thoughts to the audience or to one other character
shakespeare on stage
Shakespeare on Stage
  • Public theater: roofless courtyards (daylight only)
  • Globe Theater (reconstructed)
  • No scenery; barest minimum of furniture
    • Described in dialogue
  • Elaborate costumes
  • Scenes occurred rapidly: colorful, fast-paced; about two hours
other facts
Other Facts:
  • Like Greece, only men and boys acted on the Elizabethan stage (it was considered “immoral” for women to act!)
  • Elizabethan playwrights (especially Shakespeare) broke the Greek Tragedy “rules” of time, place, and action
  • Violence could be shown on stage—and it was!
elizabethan theaters
Elizabethan Theaters
  • They were round and open to the air
  • Higher-class people sat along the sides in seats
  • The lower classes stood on the ground in front of the stage (groundlings)
  • There were costumes, but no elaborate sets

The expensive seats



The Stage

The Globe Theater, London