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Renaissance Literature COLIPCA

Renaissance Literature COLIPCA

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  • Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry
  • 1. 1. The Early Sonneteers: Thomas Wyatt. Henry Howard
  • 1. 4. William Shakespeare: The Narrative Poems. The Sonnets
  • 1. 5. Practical Applications. Examination Tests
  • Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century
  • 2. 1. The Rise of the Secular Drama
  • 2. 1. 1. Elizabethan Playhouses and Theatrical Performances
  • 2. 1. 2. The First Comedies and Tragedies
  • 2. 2. The University Wits
  • 2. 3. Practical Applications. Examination Tests
  • Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best
  • 3. 2. The Shakespearean Controversy
  • 3.7. Practical Applications. Examination Tests

UDJG Facultatea de Litere

(A Course in English Literature for 1st Year Students, 2nd semester)

Course tutor: Associate Professor Gabriela Iuliana Colipcă

Galaţi 2010


Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry 1. 1. The Early Sonneteers: Thomas Wyatt. Henry Howard 1. 2. Sir Philip Sidney 1. 3. Edmund Spenser 1. 4. William Shakespeare: The Narrative Poems. The Sonnets 1. 5. Practical Applications. Examination Tests Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century 2. 1. The Rise of the Secular Drama 2. 1. 1. Elizabethan Playhouses and Theatrical Performances 2. 1. 2. The First Comedies and Tragedies 2. 2. The University Wits 2. 2. 1. Thomas Kyd. Case Study: The Spanish Tragedy 2. 2. 2. Christopher Marlowe. Case Study: The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus 2. 3. Practical Applications. Examination Tests Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best 3. 1. Life and Work 3. 2. The Shakespearean Controversy 3. 3. Chronicle Plays. Case Study: Richard III 3. 4. Comedies. Case Study: The Taming of the Shrew 3. 5. Tragedies. Case Study: Hamlet 3. 6. Romances. Case Study: The Tempest 3. 7. Practical Applications. Examination Tests Bibliography

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English Renaissance Literature


established the teaching of Greek on sound principles and wrote grammatical works and translations. His literary fame rests upon Utopia. It emphasized the study of man and regarded such study as the way to elevate human culture and make life on earth more enjoyable. Besides his position as a statesman Thomas Morus was the great leader of the intellectual movement known as HUMANISM. the founder of St-Paul’s School. Desiderius Erasmus. the first English secondary school devoted to the New learning. Painting was centralized in London and in the service of court. who had first arrived with a recommendation to Sir Thomas Morus from Erasmus. religious painting inevitably disappeared as an annex of Catholicism. Henry VIII. to appoint him official court painter in 1536. who taught Greek to Erasmus and Thomas Morus. The great humanist of the age. Interest in classical learning became manifest when private donations of ancient manuscripts to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge made them famous seats of humanistic learning. The 16th century also witnessed the emergence of portrait painting as part of the intellectual renewing of the time. the first great humanistic work by an Englishman. Holbein’s influence on English painting exerted through the individual portrait able to bring a living person authentically before us cannot be questioned. The introduction of Greek studies into England initiated a permanent enthusiasm for classical learning. a return to the man-centered learning of classical antiquity. When the monasteries were dissolved during the Reformation. Thomas Linacre. lived in England for a number of years and wrote his famous work Moriae Encomium (Praise of Folly) in 1510 at the London home of Sir Thomas Morus to whom the work is dedicated. The Renaissance attitudes manifested themselves in humanism characterized by interest in man asserting the intrinsic worth of human life.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry “As early as the 15th century a few English clerics and government officials had journeyed to Italy and had witnessed something of the intellectual movement flourishing there. But Elizabethan world picture was still largely geocentric with the earth surrounded by the nine spheres beyond English Renaissance Literature 5 . took advantage of the presence in England of Hans Holbein the Younger. anxious to heighten his prestige by a brilliant art circle. Kepler and Galileo substituted for the traditional Ptolemaic cosmology the new image of the sun-centered universe.” Over the second half of the sixteenth century. Erasmus and Thomas More were lifelong friends and their friendship is one of the most touching in the history of literature. the first teacher of Oxford. With its spirit of inquiry and its vision of the ancient freedom of Greek and Roman thought the Renaissance had been transplanted from Italy to bloom afresh in England. the same as the previous ones of Thomas Morus and the group of Morus and his family. reveals the artist’s superb ability of recording the accurate likeness and the stamp of character which only a great artistic genius can give. The epoch-making astronomical discoveries of Copernicus. “The Renaissance meant literally ‘re-birth’. The portrait of Henry VIII by Holbein. William Grocyn. staying at Morus’s house from 1526 to 1528. By placing man as an individual at the centre of human preoccupation humanism gave him a new status in the universe. John Colet. the prosperity and security that the English enjoyed under Queen Elizabeth I allowed for further cultural developments as the English Renaissance reached its climax.

both women as ornaments of the court and women as rulers. an increased demand for new translations produced in successive waves the Great Bible (1539). their courts. to court culture in the Renaissance times. The most emotionally appealing product of the Elizabethan Age is the art of the miniature. Homer’s Iliad. Among these mention should be made of Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry which the ‘coelum empireum’ extended. both of which were made by followers of John Wyclif. and the destiny of their countries and kingdoms. (See Griffiths. Yet. and the poetic feeling which makes him kin of the Elizabethan sonneteers. during the Renaissance. The violent attitude taken against icons and objects of cult during the Tudor reformation that discouraged painters and sculptors to produce religious art continued under Elizabeth. all the things constituting one Great Chain of Being that rose from the particles of matter to the Power that had created them. the way in which the arts were used by rulers to project images and political messages about themselves. drawing on the models of 6 English Renaissance Literature . the Geneva Bible (1560) to culminate with the Authorized Version (1611) which has ever since influenced English literature through its perfectly balanced archaic style. the relationships between humanism. One of the chief elements in the English culture of the Renaissance was the Bible which became the book of books for the nobility and the middle classes alike. on the one hand. Their study will allow modern readers to see in a different light a number of issues related. Seneca’s Tragedies. The Great Chain of Being would prove a perennial concept to linger on in the intellectual mentality until late in the 18th century. Ariosto. with the related themes of courtly and platonic love.” (Gavriliu. Cosmic hierarchy reflected the principle of order which in the Renaissance conception governed the universe and prevented chaos in the society. The universe was hierarchically structured. Ovid’s Metamorphoses but also Montaigne’s Essays and Cervantes’s Don Quixote. His miniatures were small jewels. On the other hand. especially due to the tremendous influence of Italian lyrical poetry (Petrarch. significant achievements marked the revival and rapid development of English poetry. chivalric values and court culture. 84-6) The post-Chaucerian period was characterised by the long absence of cultivated poetry. Vergil’s Aeneid.e. however. Cranmer’s Bible (1540). In its intimate nature it was the opposite to the formalized images of the oil painters. ideas and the arts. Boccaccio. 2002: 77-8. Shakespeare and Bacon. revelations of character and sentiment. stress will be laid on one particular aspect which runs not only through the court culture material but through the wider discussion of humanism. a development from the manuscript illumination Nicholas Milliard is remarkable in the fresh and intimate character of his miniature portraits. drama and philosophy which reached unprecedented originality and forwardness of expression in the works of Spenser. If at the beginning of the 16th century there were only two complete English versions of the Bible. 1998) As the further presentation attempts to demonstrate. Tasso) widely known either through translation or adaptations. i. namely the relationship between European cultural values and artistic models and the products of the emergent national cultures. The significant works of Latin. Greek and European literatures became available to the public at large through translation into English. or the role of women in court culture. The unsurpassed achievements of the Elizabethan age were by far in the field of poetry.

but also epigrams. Henry Howard When English poetry re-emerged in the sixteenth century after a long period of rather scarce poetic achievements. thus allowing for the development of a new tradition in poetry writing in Renaissance England. getting often involved in dangerous political relationships or love affairs. narratives. Earl of Surrey. as it was published by the printer Henry Tottel in 1559. the sonnet. mainly lyrics. he died at the age of thirty-nine. and shaped up their works according to their Protestant convictions and to their opinions regarding the position and the function of the poet at court. i. appointed commander of the English fleet. Regaining favour. the most important of the English Renaissance poets (Thomas Wyatt. Tottel’s Miscellany was published in at least nine editions until the end of the century. Philip Sidney. Translations and adaptations played a very important part in making the humanistic literature of Italy widely known and it was in particular to writers like Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard. to be published for the public at large only at a later date. namely Sir Thomas Wyatt (97 poems) and Henry Howard. he became an ambassador to Spain. probably because of his high rank and his close ties to the royal family (40 poems). Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) Life. the so-called “pioneers” of this poetic age. that the acculturation of one of the most popular forms of lyrical poetry. namely Italy. to blazon English poetry forth as worthy of comparison with the best of Italy and the best of Greece and Rome. The most remarkable contributions to the collection belonged to the most influential of the individual poets. Highly popular among the poets and the reading public (Shakespeare himself is said to have owned a copy of the collection and he does make reference to it. Finally. The Early Sonneteers: Thomas Wyatt. in collections. where he got acquainted with Petrarch’s and Serafino dell’ Aquila’s love poetry. but troubles with the women in his life – his hatred of his wife and hopeless love for Ann Boleyn – would soon cost him his freedom: he was imprisoned under the suspicion of being Ann Boleyn’s lover. he was sent on diplomatic missions in France and especially in Italy. also known as Songs and Sonnets or Tottel’s Miscellany.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry Italian Renaissance vernacular poetry – in particular on Petrarch –. and Others. elegies. more or less explicitly. 1. but he was imprisoned again under the charge of treason. The first significant collection of Renaissance verse is Songes and Sonnets by the Wright Honourable Lord Henry Howard Late Earle of Surrey. it turned for inspiration to the literature of another European cultural space where the Renaissance had been flourishing. Earl of Surrey. William Shakespeare) imposed on themselves an explicit mission to regenerate English as a literary language. imitating or criticizing them. Before he was 25.e. in manuscript form. most of the new poetry was circulated. but eventful life among the aristocrats of Henry VIII’s court. of a fever during one of his missions. English Renaissance Literature 7 . at Falmouth. pastorals. Edmund Spenser. satires. It was a heterogeneous collection of 310 poems. He lived a short. in The Merry Wives of Windsor and even in Hamlet). whose name appears on the title page. at first. In the spirit of the Renaissance. He was granted the rank of knight. 1. was possible. Henry Howard.

alluring. Description of the Contrarious Passions in a Lover (Petrarch’s Sonnet 104). on the one hand. “Like Petrarch infatuated with Laura. and the rejection of the world for the divine. smells and sounds. introducing the statement. i. etc. He is the first to have introduced the 14-line Italian sonnet into English. but from a bleaker and more pessimistic point of view. while Laura’s chastity meant that she belonged to God. he freezes. What is interesting is how Wyatt. as Day emphasises. was in part motivated by the fact that Italy was becoming fashionable as a source of courtly manners and accomplishments. mainly dealing with the theme of unrequited love. considering Wyatt’s personality. in fact. a conflict producing guilt. the forging of a literature in a modern European language that would be as rich and as longlasting as that of Greece and Rome.” (Griffiths. locks of hair. and on the other hand. with its sophisticated conceits. (Griffiths. Wyatt’s poetry. clothing pets. fetishism – the male lover deals with the beloved best through erotic associations with her shoes. conveys a sense of Tudor political realities and the requirements and evasions of survival at court. and subject matter and subjecting the persona’s assumptions about 8 English Renaissance Literature . translations/ adaptations from Italian. The Lover Compareth His State to a Ship in Impetuous Storm Tossed on the Sea (Petrarch’s Sonnet 156). and especially his original lyrics (songs or sonnets). thus “aestheticising her” – and masochistically received rejection . he enjoys the pain of denial and waiting. whose attitude to his ‘beloved’ was predominantly anger and scorn. philosophy and value systems together with the development of the linguistic tools to accomplish this recovery. the recovery of classical literature. and especially for transposing in an artistic form an emotional trauma to which the poetic persona lent distance. e. in the case of Wyatt’s mistress an emblem of steadfastness and chastity is transmuted into one of cupidity. and the possibility that after pain will come pleasure and gratification – are all preserved in some of Wyatt’s best sonnets. shame. Wyatt was trapped by an erotic compulsion from which he could break not himself free. combining the humanist and the vernacular modes of expression.” inverting the Petrarchan style. scholars have stated that it was rather “the emotional and formal structure of Petrarchan love poetry. provide an excellent illustration of the way in which Renaissance and humanist values enabled poets to express a “heightened of subjectivity and individuality. hard-hearted. 1998) For Wyatt. intolerable tension and uncertainty —” which appealed to the poet and determined him to take up sonnet writing. Yet.the lover burns. in particular Petrarch’s. history. frustratingly chaste mistress. anxiety. and it amused the king to introduce it to the English court as well. The Lover for Shamefastness Hideth His Desire Within His Faithful Heart (Petrarch’s Sonnet 109). 1998) Petrarchan idealization of the beloved is thus often replaced with debased alternatives: images of spring freshness are replaced with sordid antitheses and obscene allusions. presenting the poet’s intellectual or emotional response. and a sestet. The Petrarchan themes of erotic attraction to an idealized but cruel.e. portraits.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry Work. It is true that the adoption of the Petrarchan sonnet. does not simply imitate or copy Petrarch but creatively transforms his model in a way that reflects his different perception of the beloved and. consisting of an octave. All in all. Petrarch offered an erotic psychology useful for constructing his own erotic persona as part of the courtly game. the feelings of the lover torn between conflicting impulses — human love and sexual gratification on the one hand. He is the first English poet since Chaucer to make use of Italian models. its ability to express complex emotional experience.g.

and when the poetic technique had passed beyond the obviously experimental stage. while the rhyming pattern is abab cdcd efef gg. together with his friends (here including Thomas Wyatt’s son) upon “lewde and unseemly (…) walking in the night abowght the stretes and breaking with stonebows off certeyne wyndowes. devoid of the mechanical break of the Petrarchan one. displays genuine effusion and a surer hand (to be analysed). all the more dangerous in the tense atmosphere of the dying king’s court. He also had the merit of having introduced the blank verse in English prosody in his 1554 translation of the Aeneid (Books 2 and 4). As far as the sonnet form cultivated is concerned. he remained essentially a reckless young man. To give but some examples. as some scholars call him (Berdan. speaking of form. “a form more consonant with the genius of his language” to which he gave currency. Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor. (Berdan. that brought about his death: charged with treason.” (Berdan. the amplification and the climax. he spent his childhood and early youth in close connection with the royal families of England and France. (Griffiths. But sonnet writing represents only a part of his activity as a humanist writer. Born in a family of the highest aristocracy. he followed in Wyatt’s footsteps and established the English sonnet form. though often less vigorous and vivid than Wyatt’s. he was in fact at his best when exalting male friendship and masculine virtues rather than the love of women. 1920: 511). he was beheaded. often embarking. 1920: 516). his sonnet Description of Spring. he showed technical skill and produced fluent. Politically active in overthrowing Thomas Cromwell. an adaptation of Petrarch’s sonnet 113 (A Complaint by Night of the Lover not Beloved). was encouraged to study and to translate from the classics and the French poets.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry women to a bitter interrogation. 1920: 523) English Renaissance Literature 9 . In dealing with the Petrarchan model. special mention should be made to the innovation displayed in Wyatt’s last three sonnets in Tottle’s Miscellany which was later to be referred to as the English or Shakespearean sonnet: the 14 lines of the sonnet are distributed into three quatrains containing the statement. 1920: 522-523) Thematically. at the age of 30. without Petrarchan conventionality or hackneyed phrasing. Work. and. Described in the historical documents of the time as “the most relish prowde boye that ys in England” (Berdan. a translation of Petrach’s sonnet 43. respectively. 1920: 512) It was in fact his recklessness. musical. the most spectacular. From his early childhood.” (Berdan. pictures a lovely English landscape in spring time. in his translations. Petrarch and Wyatt seem to have most strongly influenced him in his career as a sonneteer. just one week before the monarch’s death. Henry Howard. “the most brilliant. Earl of Surrey (1517-1547) Life. 1998) Furthermore. the language had become relatively fixed in the forms of the words. Yet. These were as many reasons for his contemporaries and successors (here including Sir Philip Sidney) to consider him the representative of the age – “the age when for the first time since Chaucer. he lived a short and excitingly eventful life. while Alas! so all things now do hold their peace. as result of his getting involved in the dispute over Henry VIII’s successor. a concluding couplet. attractive verse of genuine lyric quality. in defeating the Scots at Flodden Field and in the war with France. the most cultivated noble of England”.

His contribution to the development of Renaissance literature might be summarised as follows: .” or.” The Adventures of Master F. Only George Gascoigne (1542-1577) might be worth mentioning. Furthermore. rejected by Protestant austerity. 2. were of rather poor quality. as well as a symbol of Papism and vice. at a time when Elizabeth had managed to consolidate her position on the throne.The earliest treatise on English prosody.The first English “novel. expressive desires and preoccupations of Italian poetry with real human lives and loves. a phase in which Philip Sidney. that of Anglicanism/ Protestantism in the kingdom and that of her kingdom among the European powers. Thus. J. his sister “Bloody” Mary and the youthful Elizabeth I. exposing the moral dissolution in every walk of society.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry 1. they sought to integrate Renaissance literary ideals and humane values with their Protestant beliefs and the implications of these for their souls and their perception of the self. and even when it was revived. Certayne Notes of Instruction Concerning the Making of Verse or Rhyme in English.The first English satire in blank verse. He was for a short while the most important man of letters in England. They borrowed the themes. — or in the form of the epic romance pioneered by Ariosto and Tasso — where heroic actions are performed by noble characters humanised by love and governed by chivalric gallantry. English poets remained mainly imitators of the Petrarchan sonnet. moved beyond translation and technical imitation into true creativity. It was only in the 1580s and 1590s. . But they modified the assumptions of each model to make them consistent with the Protestant sense of human nature and spiritual responsibility. a very important factor influencing artistic production in the Elizabethan England was the “desire to define an English literary identity that enshrined visions of national. . Tenably the imitation and transformation of Italian writing was an effort «to construct an illuminated understanding of the right relationship between worldly and spiritual goods». moral and religious identity in a way that would buttress state. — or in the pastoral mode — which counterpoised the mutability of worldly troubles with the imaginative possibility of a golden world of idealised simplicity and harmony. that the development of poetry. poets aspired to take an active part in the “creation of a national literary. on the other hand. whether in the form of the Petrarchan sonnet sequence — where the conflict between erotic desire and religious prescription made the location of self problematical. The Elizabethan response to Italian influences is different from that of the “pioneers” of the English Renaissance and somewhat contradictory: on the one hand. included in his collection of writings The Poesies of George Gascoigne. The Steele Glass (1576). they 10 English Renaissance Literature . Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586) After Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard. the verse productions under Edward VI. (1573). . especially by the great victory over the Spanish Armada in July 1588. Edmund Spenser and William Shakespeare are the leading figures. Italy was seen as a source of sensuality.Remarkable translations from Italian drama (Ariosto). the educated humanists of the time found it difficult to break with the human values and sensual content of Italian fiction and poetry. political and religious values that they [poets] sought to identify and shape. in particular. to put in different words. Queen and church. the literary interest in Italy and its court poetry went in hibernation until the 1560s. In so doing.

Sidney – the man of letters did not seem to take the literary career very seriously. which reveals him to be one of the greatest sonneteers in England. Sidney’s love for Penelope Devereux whom he couldn’t marry. and he died 26 days after. Sir Philip Sidney’s contemporaries considered him the embodiment of the Renaissance ideal: the perfect gentleman by birth and by nature. “the star love”.” (Minto.” (Griffiths.) A governor in the Netherlands. in a fight against Catholic Spain.) It epitomized Sidney’s attempt to confront and transcend his personal and public situation. and that he introduced in it a fairy world of enchanted beauty depicted through a masterfully exquisite language. while staying at her estate to cure from his love for Penelope Devereux. he was a favourite of the queen and presumably at the heart of court politics in the 1570s and the early 1580s.” Work. she was married at the age of seventeen. Spenser dedicated the work to him as “the president of noblesse and chevalree”. their project concerned both literary and national identity and the relationship between the cultural implications of being Protestant and English and a wider European consciousness. to an unattractive young nobleman. and they did this in a manner which sought to serve the needs of Queen and court…” Thus. was some nine years younger than her distinguished lover. They say that. 1885) English Renaissance Literature 11 . to Stella. he gave up the water he had requested in favour of another wounded soldier with these words: “Thy necessity is yet greater than mine. sister of the unfortunate Earl of Essex. in a collection together with Samuel Daniel’s sonnets. 1998) Life. more stress should be laid. Yet. “Lady Penelope. Lord Rich. the sonnet sequence Astrophel and Stella and the essay An Apologie for Poetry. Her father had formed a high opinion of Sir Philip’s promise. Sidney’s sonnet sequence served as a source of inspiration for other sonneteers. reference must be made to the fact that he wrote it for the amusement of his sister. and then in a corrected individual edition. they wanted (…) to celebrate their faith and retain the aesthetic and humane appeal of Italian literary models. he was badly wounded on the battlefield at Zutpen. yet his fame rests upon three major works which were published posthumously: the novel Arcadia. A warrior. He encouraged young Edmund Spenser to publish the Shepherd’s Calendar (to pay homage to his patron Sidney. in fact. in particular. transposes. “the star”. both Sir Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser appear as “leading examples of those who wished both to participate in the value systems represented by Italian and classical literature at the same as they endorsed Protestant values. and two or three years after the old Earl’s death. a scholar and a poet.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry struggled with the English language to make it of literary worth in an age when the less restrictive and less insular traditions suggested writing in Latin. a statesman. the Countess of Pembroke. like Edmund Spenser and William Shakespeare. The manner of his death made him a figure of myth. (Published in 1591. while lying on the battlefield wounded. at this point. much against her own wishes. The emotional attachment of Astrophel. at first under the editorship of Thomas Nashe. on his sonnet sequence Astrophel and Stella. and on his deathbed expressed a wish for their union: but her guardians were in favour of a wealthier match. To briefly describe his novel.

he is not particular about the arrangement of the rhymes within these limits. and “deploring dumps” of other amorous singers. In fact. (Griffiths. the lover turns out guilty of willful self-deception and immaturity. Whether for ease or for variety. discouragement. for instance). he occasionally subdivides the last stave into a quatrain followed by a couplet. Earl of Surrey and himself. 1998) “The first fifty or sixty sonnets exhibit Astrophel’s love in what may be called in fashionable mathematical language the statical stage: the subsequent dynamical stage being composed of sonnets descriptive of moods and conceits occasioned by a sequence of incidents between the lovers--supposed encouragement. the poet-lover’s mind is occupied with similitudes and all sorts of fanciful inventions to set forth the incomparable charms of his mistress and the unexampled force of his passion. contradiction and reasoning which are not necessarily resolved. reacting to the long line of imitations between Henry Howard. his sonnets appear as a means of purging his moral being. Enlarging upon the function of the poet in the Elizabethan society. having conquered but the lady’s indifference.” The result is the spiritual paralysis documented in the final sonnet. the final part of the sequence emphasises his self-regarding despair. he is “living through the self-punitive consequences of remaining in an unregenerate condition. In vain does she warn him about the need of self-restraint. is. is a treatise inaugurating modern English literary criticism. aware of Laura’s pursuit of virtue and the divine). vows. Sidney claims that poetry should serve moral and religious purposes and it should offer “skills and moral insights important to monarch. reconciling himself to unattainable desire and clarifying the moral meaning of his experience. The strategy followed is to explore the ways in which Astrophel’s experiences as a lover had been faulty. Astrophel’s perception of love is distorted by his own carnality (unlike Petrarch’s persona which. colloquial tone and even puns (on the name Rich. but also what might be. this essay defends imaginative literature and proclaims the poet’s superiority over the philosopher and the historian through his capacity to imitate not merely what is. 1998) As far as the sonnet form is concerned.” (Minto. despite the confusion of the erotic and the spiritual. coming thus closer to the English manner. And the making of 12 English Renaissance Literature . and so forth. nevertheless. nation and mankind. During the statical or brooding stage. most of the conceptions and conceits in Sidney’s sonnets are really his own. it suffers neither increase nor abatement. During that period his love is subject to no fluctuations. the first of eight lines with two rhymes. An Apologie for Poetrie. and they display very exquisite subtlety and tenderness of fancy. (Griffiths. In the light of the impact of Protestant faith and Calvinist assumptions about the self and the soul. no dynamic change. 1885) Yet. the fact must be mentioned that Sidney observes the Petrarchan form of the sonnet in the sense of the division of the stanza into two staves. Sidney prides himself on being original and claims that he will not adopt the praises. the second of six lines with three rhymes. (Sonnet 1) And indeed. Furthermore. despair. Once Stella has finally refused Astrophel.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry Sidney’s revival of the Petrarchan patterns in this sonnet sequence goes much further than mere imitation to parody and critique and displays layers of ambiguity. but use as his only source of inspiration “Stella’s kiss”. Meant as retort to Stephen Gosson’s attack on all fiction writing in The School of Abuse. venturous liberties. It is chiefly in this stage that the soft gracefulness and ethereal reach of Sidney’s fancy are displayed. often relting on dialogue. reprinted with the title of The Defense of Poetrie in 1595.

Work. Surrey and Sidney. the role of the poet was not just to imitate the external world. but Sidney’s manifesto for poetry and nation was in part a product of the experience of his own writing as much as of his membership of a political faction. this old but important stream in English literature. Christian and poet in a way that was a preparation for the public statements of the Defence and the allegorical message to the nation of his pastoral romance Arcadia. structure and object of poetry. as beautiful and expressive as Italian and the ancient tongues. Thus. Sidney also surveys the English literary scene and finds little to praise: Surrey’s lyrics. His facility in language blended the best of English Renaissance Literature 13 . His funeral was paid for by the earl of Essex and he was buried in Westminster Abbey near Chaucer's grave. newly wrought and defined through composition. The poetry of Spenser is the culmination of the allegorical verse tradition. A few days after their arrival to London. Although the modern reader cannot wholly agree to some of Sidney’s definitions. 1998) Having discussed the mission of the poet. and he resided in Ireland for most of his life. for Sir Philip Sidney. by the sincere words used in analyzing the origin. His aim was didactic. […] Astrophel and Stella may suggest an unstable gap between the poet’s persona and the writer himself. by the graceful and easy manner. 1. In considering drama. Sidney concludes by a general defense of English as a language suitable for poetry and a humorous defiance of those who will not be converted by his work. In London he entered the service of Leicester and made the acquaintance of Sidney and Ralegh. its language. Back to Ireland the Spenser family were forced to flee to England by Tyrone's rebellion. that of translating the poet’s visions into everyday life. Edmund Spenser. Edmund Spenser (1552-1599) “Life. Sir Walter Ralegh visited him at his residence at Cork and at the former’s insistence the poet went to London to supervise the publication of the first three books of the Faerie Queene in 1590. he is chiefly interested in the way in which playwrights manage to uphold the unities and attacks the mixed forms of tragi-comedy. Another visit to London in 1594 with three books of the Fairie Queene again produced no political advancement. he is impressed by his enthusiastic devotion to the cause of poetry. In 1580 he was appointed secretary to Lord Gray of Wilton lord deputy of Ireland. came from a social background which had very little in common with his aristocratic contemporaries. No monument was erected to him until in 1620 when the Countess of Dorset made a gesture of private generosity. The pension of £ 50 granted by the Queen was far less than the poet’s expectations who returned to Ireland the following year. His father was John Spencer probably a textile worker in London but the boy enjoyed a first rank education in the greatest Renaissance tradition at Merchant Taylors’ School and at Cambridge where he received his B A and M A. but to emulate God in creating one that was new. The sonnet sequence enabled him to constitute himself as individual. 3.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry a new English poetry would demonstrate that the culture of the new Protestant nation was as sophisticated as the cultures of the old European order. whose name is usually associated with Wyatt.” (Griffiths. Spenser died under very poor circumstances. Spenser’s Shepherd’s Calendar. Spenser proved to be the poetic master English verse needed.

but.g. whereas Astrophel remains locked 14 English Renaissance Literature . just as this courtship ended. partly out of a homage to Chaucer. (Gavriliu. Thomson. selfish officials and offending military men. The eclogue was a classic form presenting a dialogue between shepherds and praising simple life. Epithalamion. Keats. After the publication of the first three books of the Faerie Queene which won Spenser instant fame. grammatical and vocabulary elements from all the dialects of the age (Northern. the point of departure for the poem is a real-life courtship. Midlands and Southern). the poet published Complaints Containing Sundrie Small Poems of the Worlds Vanitie (1591). Colin Clouts Come Home (1595) is an iambic pentameter record of Spenser's return to Ireland after his visit to London under the protection of Sir Walter Ralegh. published in 1579 and dedicated to "Maister Philip Sidney" who encouraged the poet. Italian loans (e. In the Amoretti the male lover comes to terms with the inadequacy of Petrarchan expectations. Despite the conventionality of the content the work contains beautiful descriptions of the hilly areas of Lancashire and was the first demonstration by a modern English poet of finished skill and authority. Spenser used this deliberately archaic language. To subsequent generations Spenser was the “Poets’ Poet”. one for each month. Amoretti. The 23 stanzas. not in despair and dissolution. each ending with a unifying refrain. Beyond the dominant theme which is the unhappy love of Colin Clout (taken from Skelton) who is rejected by Rosalinde. Wordsworth. a collection of lyrical poems some of which like The Ruins of Time display Spenser's scholarly artificiality. The Epithalamion is the most beautiful nuptial poem in English and perhaps in any language. Cynthia (Queen Elizabeth). The Shepherd of the Ocean (Ralegh). colloquial terms. comments on political and religious disputes (between Protestants and Catholics) or tributes paid to friends and patrons are also inserted. celebrate the wedding day from dawn to night through traditional rites and folk practices still in use. 2000: 85-7) Again. partly to get a rustic effect. Astrophel (Sidney). Spenser’s relationship with Elizabeth Boyle. stanco). but in marriage. Byron. Latin neologisms and obsolete grammatical forms which all result in a language that made Ben Jonson growl that Spenser "writ no language". the Amoretti are able to suggest how the sins of egotism and desire can be intercepted and legitimized. from the It. Spenser's skilful use of many verse forms and his extraordinary musical effects indicate in him "the new poet" of the Elizabethan age. Amorettti and Epithalamion (1595) are a sonnet sequence. Tennyson. because so many English poets have learned the art of versification from him: Milton. Rossetti.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry the archaic and of the new vocabulary while his fluency in versification demonstrated that English was at least the equal to any other language as a vehicle of great poetry. celebrating the poet’s courtship of Elizabeth Boyle culminating with the wadding hymn. Almost all the 88 sonnets demonstrate genuine personal experience and the Spenserian masterful language and calm purity. The language in The Shepherd's Calendar is Spenser's own creation employing phonetic. In Spenser the eclogue becomes didactic or satirical. The poet's wedding to Elizabeth Boyle is symbolically celebrated as the eternal spirit of nature and fertility. The corruption of the London court is contrasted with the simple life in Ireland and most of the political and literary figures of the time appear concealed under pastoral names: Colin (Spenser). stanck = weary. Mother Hubbard's Tale is a satire on the corrupt clergy. The Shepherd’s Calendar is a series of 12 eclogues.

Spenser sets out his answer to the Petrarchan dilemma. virtue and salvation.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry up in self-hood.the literal (what happens in the narrative) and the symbolic (what the events stand for. and in the ideas they represent or the significance they bear. "of all the books is to fashion a gentleman or noble person in virtuous and gentle discipline" by exhibiting the traits that such a person should have.g. She trusts in the vision of married love that the Amoretti affirm. outside the narrative).1 1 Allegory is a form of extended metaphor in which objects and persons within a narrative are equated with meanings that lie outside the narrative. In the process. Beauty. there are sonnets in this sequence that draw directly on Petrarchan originals. The lover has come to control his desire and she has the confidence to allow her own desire to make her responsive to him. heaven and hell. His aim may therefore have been to show how loss can be made into gain through the giving of self. and voyeuristic categorisation of the beloved’s physical attractions Like Wyatt and Sidney before him. Pride. But whereas Wyatt’s deer. or another sort of abstraction (Una = the True Church). The deliberate echoes of Wyatt emphasise the transformative difference that a surrender of self can make. reworked from a fresh and critical perspective. 1998) The Faerie Queene consists of 6 books published between 1590 (books I-III and 1596 (books IV-VI) and Cantos of Mutabilite published posthumously in 1609. The modern literary tastes have regarded The Faerie Queene as a highly artificial creation too long to be read for entertainment and boringly complicated in its layers of allegory. it can also represent a historical personage (e. The best example might be Sonnet XLVII. or fabulous. where Spenser harks back to Wyatt’s "Whose list to hunt" and its Petrarchan model. Spenser made his intentions clear in a letter enclosed to the volume containing the initial three books of the work and addressed to Sir Walter Ralegh. his images are those of sin and damnation. Everyman is English Renaissance Literature 15 . Spenser’s lover. Spenser’s poetic persona transcends egotism and finds a self-less and Christian love." Spenser clearly knew both the original. 65. at that point desire can be gratfied in spotless pleasure enjoyed in mutual faith. Spenser wrote to Ralegh. Spenser’s is a gentle "deare" who returns the way she has fled and is willing to entrust herself to her lover’s power. perverted. the masochistic enjoyment of absence. On the surface. confronts and overcomes the traditional. Death). Like Wyatt he converts Petrarch’s pursuit of a white doe into a huntsman chasing a hind. 'The general end". Anne Boleyn. Allegory implies two levels of meaning -. Florinell. It evokes a dual interest: in the events. In no. "Una candida cerva.g. desire can be fulfilled only when egotism and lust are replaced by mutual good will and loyalty within a sanctified union. the Epithalamion that acts as the coda to the published Amoretti. Spenser further describes his poem as “a continued allegory or darke conceit" and allegory it is indeed but far more than that.g. events and setting may be historical. and Wyatt’s cynical inversion of Petrarch’s sonnet. the key is that they have meanings independent of the action in the surface story. fictitious. and the lover experiences a similar weariness from this "vain assaye". perceptions of the Petrarchan lover: idolisation and over-valuation of the beloved. (Griffiths. consummates a Protestant vision of Eros fulfilled and celebrates Spenser’s marriage to Elizabeth Boyle in 1594. While the modern reader is eager to read The Faerie Queene purely as a poetic romance he will miss much of Spenser's intent. characters and setting presented. In the process he interweaves Protestant moral values into the poetry in a way that enable both lover and lady to be judged. the possessive. is corrupted by her own lust. Appropriately. a category of individual (e. Everyman = all mankind). Gloriana = Queen Elizabeth). Allegory may involve the personification of abstract qualities (e. selfregarding pain. Characters. oppressive rejection and stigmatisation.

the execution of Mary of the Scots. On each of these twelve days a petitioner will present at the court his or he request for help. the revolts in Ireland). the Faerie Queene about a knight killing a dragon and rescuing a princess. http://cla.html) 16 English Renaissance Literature . but not always.(Schwartz. of Calidore (Courtesy). of Triamond and Cambell (Friendship). Bartholomew’s Eve. representing the virtue of Holiness. talking animals or teapots) does not constitute allegory in and of itself. Gloriana stands for the national splendour of England as embodied by Queen Elizabeth.calpoly. Presumably the entire narrative was meant to cover a whole calendar year but the poem has been left unfinished and the 6 books that have come down to us deal with the adventures of the Red Cross Knight. referring to contemporary events in France.edu/~dschwart/engl331/fq. religion and philosophy. damnation and salvation. in an allegory. castles. Italy. of Britomart and Belphaebe (Chastity). the defeat of the Spanish Armada. dragons. characters and objects usually symbolize abstract qualities. He falls in love with Gloriana. however. Arthur goes to Gloriana’s court in Fairy land where she is holding her annual 12 days’ festival. both are about the duties of a Christian and the way to achieve salvation.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry Spenser attempted a unified presentation of romantic ideas within a classic structure. The scope of the allegory at this level has not been agreed upon since the poet is rather cryptic and the allegory itself is not omnipresent. of Artegall (Justice). Allegory is frequently. The moral level achieves the author’s intent to form the ideal puritan humanist in the spirit of the perfect morals. and the events recounted convey a coherent message concerning those abstractions.g. concerned with matters of great import: life and death. The historical level covers the whole of Western civilization from the outset of the Christian era throughout the 16th century.e. the Faerie Queen. who reveals herself to him in a dream. enchanted trees. and England (the massacre on St. The different knightly figures are summed up in the person of Arthur himself before he became a king. the spirit of the Reformation and Renaissance humanism. jousting knights. Note that the simple use of personification (e. perfect virtue. The heroes do not have the virtues they represent at the beginning of their adventures but acquire them in the course of the book. The models which must have influenced Spenser were Ariosto's Orland Furioso and Tasso's Gerusaleme Liberata which provided the intricate scheme and the combination of action and philosophical comment but also such English books as Skelton's Magnificence. On the allegorical level. The poem can be enjoyed on many levels and it may work on several of these levels at a time. Elyot’s Governour or Ascham’s Scholemaster which set forth the Renaissance concept of “the perfyte man” (perfect man). social or personal morality and immorality. the Faerie Queene. Arthur typifies magnificence in the Aristotelian sense of the perfection of all the other virtues i. of Sir Guyon (Temperance). nationalistic feelings and idealistic expression. Spenser's poem is full of adventure and marvels. The framework was to be the 12 days Christmas celebrations at the Court of Gloriana. It can also be used for satiric purposes. about a man about to leave on a trip and the people he meets. The Faerie Queen will assign in turn each of the 12 knights at her court symbolizing a gentlemanly virtue each to destroy 12 vices and evils a1so allegorically presented. giants." The same letter to Walter Ralegh reveals Spenser's overall plan as regards the structure of the poem.

g.g. 2000: 87-90) 1. foen). a boar hunter. "s" endings for the 3rd person singular of the verb were preferred to the traditional Midlands "eth".g. The genitive singular in "es" fully pronounced. Spenser's descriptive gift displays an ornate style often overburdened with a mass of enumerations and also a mass of sensuous imagery and of every effect of the language. he remains firmly grounded in practicality. Spenser invented for his poem a stanza form afterwards referred to as the Spenserian stanza consisting of eight iambic pentameters with a concluding Alexandrine (iambic hexametre) rhyming a b a b b c b c c. the frequent omission of articles and pronouns. In despair the goddess transforms the dead youth into anemone. He remains sternly moral though a lover and celebrator of physical beauty. The closing of the theatres in 1592-1593 because of the plague epidemic interrupted Shakespeare’s career as an actor-playwright and presented him with both the opportunity and the necessity to apply his gifts to other literary species. "enough is him") are other instances of archaic forms deliberately used by the poet. Dedicated to the Earl of Southampton. Venus and Adonis is a narrative of 1. Spenser does not explain what would be obvious to every contemporary reader. they paraphrase Ovidian sources in the rich style of the English Renaissance.g. Most of the archaic borrowings are from the Northern dialect considered as more Anglo-Saxon than London English. The "es". It relates the unrequited love of Venus for the handsome mortal Adonis. a humanist and a poet-citizen. Spenser’s is a complex genius who cannot be put into neatly labelled categories. Agnes.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry The personal level is the most disputed of all although there are many who insist that every significant figure in the literary and political life of the time was projected in The Faerie Queene. Spenser’s links are not with the past but with the future. 4. His closest affinity is with Milton who recognized Spenser his great predecessor. the noun plural in "en" (e. The two narrative poems Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece appeared in 1593 and respectively 1594 and were the only works whose publication was supervised by the writer himself. Despite his love of Chaucer and his de1iberate archaic language. "and they to fight") the archaic Dative (e . Though strongly influenced by Renaissance Neoplatonism. She begs him to meet her the next day early in the morning but he prefers to go hunting only to get killed by a wild boar. the use of the infinitive for the past (e. ybuilded). English Renaissance Literature 17 . His morality implies awareness of the temptations that entrap man as he tries to act rightly. the many conventional symbols and attributes which would identify his characters. The Spenserian stanza is the best vehicle to convey an enchanted picture of the fairy land. The language of the poem was still Spenser's own concoction in point of vocabulary with less emphasis on the bizarre.194 lines disposed in sextains of iambic pentameters rhyming ababcc. English literature has recorded memorable poetic achievements in this form as Byron's Child Harold's Pilgrimage and Keats’s Eve of St. The Sonnets The Narrative Poems. the "y" prefix for the past tense and the past participle (e. William Shakespeare: The Narrative Poems.” (Gavriliu. Difficult as this stanza-form appears to be. In vain does the goddess use all her charms to conquer the cold handsome youth.

quoted in 34 contemporary writings). W. consisting of seven-line stanzas of iambic pentameter in which there are three rhymes.T. The printed text opens with the following dedication: TO THE ONLIE BEGETTER OF THESE INSUING SONNETS MR. Venus is the stimulus for that re-creation through the propagation of offspring. in fact. the second with the fourth and fifth. The masterful use of lyrical language is marred by the long speeches and extended rhetoric. Another view is that Adonis represents. and the sixth with the seventh – ababbcc) and inspired from Ovid’s Fasti.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry Shakespeare’s source is Metamorphoses (Book X) which modern criticism conceives of as a myth of the vegetation cycle. The deed of Sextus causes the people to revolt against Tarquin and to establish the Republic. sober tone minutely dwelling upon details. who awakens the same sort of pity as Desdemona does. Venus and Adonis proved Shakespeare’s most popular work during his lifetime (10 editions by 1616. Despite the conventional poetic language. while Adonis stands for chaste love. Shakespeare assumes that beauty must be forever recreated. he risks and loses everything and gains only disgust and despair. (Gavriliu. Shakespeare relates his story in a reverent. 2000: 114-5) The Sonnets. in 1609. the poem exalts the spiritual virtues of chastity and faithfulness. To satisfy his lust. With Shakespeare it has become a love story in which Adonis is shy and boyish. As in the sonnets. Lucretia commits suicide. the first line rhyming with the third. Lucrece is the tyrant’s helpless victim.H. The wording of such a dedication seems so clearly to be an address from one real person to another. (The dedication of Venus and Adonis clearly addresses the “Right 18 English Renaissance Literature . Some critics explain that Venus and Adonis emphasise the contrast between sacred and profane love. ALL HAPPINESSE AND THAT ETERNITIE PROMISED BY OUR EVER-LIVING POET WISHETH THE WELL-WISHING ADVENTURER IN SETTING FORTH T. Written in rhyme royal (a form of verse introduced into English by Chaucer. the inseparable union of love and beauty. It is likely that Shakespeare composed his sonnets between 1592 and 1598 and they were circulated in manuscript by 1598 when Francis Meres praised Shakespeare’s “sugared sonnets among his private friends. especially when compared to other Shakespearean dedications. apparently without the writer’s authorisation. Lucrecia is violently assaulted by the debauched Sextus. by Thomas Thorpe. Tarquin is of the family of tyrants. Urging her father Lucretius and her husband Collatinus to avenge her. The poem depicts the disastrous fall of a slave of passion.” All the 154 sonnets by Shakespeare were published only later. while Venus embodies experienced womanhood. Venus represents naked passion that destroys all that it touches. in a collection entitled Shakespeare’s Sonnets Never Before Imprinted. but its more ambitious purpose is not fully achieved. the poem displays much personal observation and a genuine feeling of nature in superb descriptions of the English countryside. the son of King Tarquin in ancient Rome. which are far less cryptic and more aimed at thanking a patron for support. The Rape of Lucrece is a much “graver” (as promised in the dedication to Venus and Adonis) and longer poem.

Shakespeare’s only known protector acknowledged as such by the poet himself.” this set of initials might seem rather easy to decode.H. wife of an Oxford innkeeper whose son. a homosexual ship’s cook and boy actor. further possible interpretations of these initials have suggested: a) William Herbert. the poet delayed their publication which. suggest Mrs. As previously mentioned. grouped the sonnets as follows: the first 126 sonnets – dedicated to the fair friend. representing modern variants of epigram 627 from Marianos’ IXth book. probably placing them under an unequivocal dedication to serve his literary career. could also mean “transmitter”. was according to some rumours fathered by Shakespeare himself. the poet’s beloved who brings overwhelming passion into his mature age.e.L. the Earl of Pembroke’s mistress (and one of the sonnets makes reference to his friend taking his beloved away from him) and lady-in-waiting for the Queen. indicating that the dedication does not belong to Shakespeare. fond of arts and protector of a literary group. b) Henry Wriothesley. might have meant William Himself (i. Dark-haired.Rowse who suggested that the Dark Lady of the sonnets might have been. (Johnston. when applied to the image of a rather androgynous and fair young man. perhaps the supplier of the manuscript. Thorpe. more questions. And if several suggestions have already been advanced regarding the potential identity of the fair friend.e. the Earl of Southampton took pride in playing the Mecenas to the poets that surrounded him. a third variant might be William Hughes. in Elizabethan English. Shakespeare).H.htm) That Thorpe published the sonnets without the poet’s permission is now a certain fact. Davenant. were left for the end of the collection.nyu. If this be the case. Earl of Pembroke – a brilliant youth. while the last two sonnets 153-154. Some scholars advance Mary Fitton. A third solution was put forth unexpectedly in 1963 by the Oxford historian A.T. which is a witty solution. who all the physical descriptions. especially because of the ambiguity of the word “begetter” which. sonnets 127-152 refer to a brunette. a musician at Elizabeth’s court. a court musician. Emilia Bassano.” “duty. Others. Shakespeare’s godson. supporters of the Earl of Southampton theory. the favourite of Elizabeth’s court and later in 1609 of James I’s.) From the same perspective. Earl of Southampton . but her surviving portraits depict her as a blonde. reference should also be made to the possible answers to the Dark Lady enigma in Shakespeare’s sonnets. unscrupled and ambitious. William Hall was such a supplier of manuscripts to publishers. Other critics even have suggested that W. however. sonnets 127-152 dedicated to the Dark Lady. in fact.” raises. i. he would have undoubtedly selected and rearranged the sonnets.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry Honourable Henry Wriothesley” with many mentions of “honour. but perhaps not so fitting if one takes into account a possible relation between these initials and the identity of the fair friend who the first sonnet sequence is dedicated to. but to Thorpe. the inversion of the initials might be accounted for by the publisher’s caution who feared the earl’s indisposition c) in the light of the more recent identification of presumably homosexual overtones in some of the sonnets. 1999 and www. English Renaissance Literature 19 .. the daughter of the Italian Baptist Bassano. however. The fact that her husband was William Lanier. The other set of initials “W. (Or Shakespeare did not really fit the description: beautiful. had it ever been in his intention. Owing to their intimate character. single and blond. a young man of exquisite beauty. seem to fit perfectly.” and “noble…”) As to the signature “T. the dramatist William Davenant.edu/classes/jeffreys/gaybway/gaybard/wh. Emilia was said to have been the mistress of many noblemen at the court.

But the tone of the sonnets quickly becomes much more personal as the speaker explores his love for the young man and. the unfaithfulness of the young man leading the speaker to question his moral character with very specific images of infection and disease. sonnet 33) .Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry might cast a new light upon sonnets 135. . the Thorpe sequence is still conventionally accepted nowadays. 136. the Dark Lady or to neither of them.Sonnets 33-35 and 40-42 foreshadow the idea of bitter disappointment caused by his friend having an affair with the woman loved by the speakerpoet as well. 82-86. Thorpe’s arrangement might appear unsatisfactory as sonnets like 33-35 and 40-42 might perhaps find a better place in the Dark Lady sonnet sequence than in the Fair Friend one. (see especially. so that he will leave the world a copy of his beauty in his offspring. What the poet seems to regret most is the loss of confidence rather than that of financial patronage. But that is not necessarily the only explanation as the Renaissance morals permitted. Eventually. Sonnets 78-80.Sonnet 18-26 . very accomplished. Summary of the first sequence: . complicates it still further in the third. 87-93 show the poet’s concern and sorrow for being replaced by a Rival poet – presumably George Chapman. 20 English Renaissance Literature . . Yet.Sonnets 1-17 – the poet’s persona urges the young man to get married. handsome. As previously stated. . the first sequence – sonnets 1-126 – is addressed to or concerns a young. For instance. which will therefore not suffer the ravages of time. Later attempts at revising the order of Shakespeare’s sonnets were made by John Benson (1620). love for his friend is stronger than his suffering and the poet accepts the unfaithfulness of both friend and mistress as something natural and inexorable. and resolves the issue in the final epigrammatic couplet.the theme shifts slightly. as the persona claims that the young man will achieve immortality through these very sonnets. however. submitted to the same raptures and torments. blond friend. Many of the terms of address/ endearment in these sonnets (and not only) appear somewhat problematic and modern readers are tempted to find in them the traces of homosexuality. Malone (1778) or Samuel Butler (the 19th century). at times. Sometimes. Besides. complicates it in the second. . Will – the lover and will – the common noun with an obscene meaning (= wish or desire). Though he used both the Italian (Petrarchan) and the English structure in his sonnets. and 143 which include puns based on the word will: Will – the cuckold husband. and of noble birth.Sonnets 94-95 suggest even venereal infection. which will preserve his beauty for all time. Shakespeare conceives male friendship as a feeling akin to love.Further conflicts are also recorded in the collection. mentioned for his translations from Homer – who has engaged the attention and the affection of the young man. many sonnets could be equally applied to the fair friend. sonnets 27-32 speak at the poet’s sorrow at the enforced separation from his friend. such loving expressions of normal male friendship. The young man is clearly single.Sonnets 111 and 121 give voice to the poet’s revolt against hostile fate or suffering for being slandered. Shakespeare definitely preferred the latter which offered him a wider range of possibilities: the pattern introduces an idea in the first quatrain. good looking. . his despair at absences from the young man and at the young man's unfaithfulness.

.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry . the poet’s rejection of the Dark Lady and of everything she stands for. but also of human existence. he disobeys the Elizabethan poetical standards fixed upon a blond ideal. Shakespeare mercifully spares his readers the tiresome Petrarchan conventions. . the poet is aware of his degradation both as husband and man and. 147 or 152. for instance. It is this immortalising capacity of art that protects him from the ravages of time..the power of art to make beauty last forever. while the poet had been wandering through the country with his troupe of actors. which express. If snow be white. black wires grow on her head. in an offending tone. The structure of the sonnet frequently reinforces the power of the metaphors: each quatrain develops an image of approaching extinction of a season. The ties of affection are strongly affirmed and misrepresentations denied.. Major themes and motifs in the first sequence: . […] Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate. Sonnets 66-70 and 94-96 treat of the world’s corruption picturing contemporary life with its life for profits. He does not luxuriate in the woe of the rejected suitor. The whole sequence records the inner torments experienced by the poet torn between passion and lucidity. than her lips red. Sonnets like 130 that extol the mistress’s beauty oppose other sonnets like 129. its abuses and corruption. In sonnets 127-152. Shakespeare opposes the rhetorical excesses of the literary fashion (Sonnets 21 and 76) and disapproves of his contemporaries’ extravagant clothing or wigs made of dead people’s hair. Shakespeare seems to have found with Ovid and Horace the notion that a poet’s praise of his patron confers upon the great man earthly immortality. . of a fire. That Time will come and take my love away.” The only comfort for the futility of man’s endeavours is art’s capacity to fix them in eternal forms. He seldom laments the agony of a sleepless night. In dealing with the Dark Lady theme. the poet’s relationship with the Dark Lady becomes the main concern.” In loving this dark-haired woman. in praising a dark beauty. In Sonnet LXIV. Coral is far more red. Love appears as an almighty force that inspires both fascination and hatred.criticism of the literary and social life of the age. English Renaissance Literature 21 .the obsession with the passage of time and with death. Shakespeare follows Ovid in choosing the ceaseless encroachment of the sea upon the land as a striking example of the ruin following in the wake of eternal change: “When I have seen the hungry ocean gain Advantage on the kingdom of the shore.the perishability of beauty which declines “by chance or nature’s changing course untrimmed” (Sonnet 18). The three quatrains are equally and successively at work preparing for the conclusion in the couplet. of a day. why then her breasts are dun: If hairs be wires. 146. The metaphorical style of the sonnets is extremely rich despite the relative simplicity of vocabulary. .Sonnets 97-103 and 113-114 recount the absence of the poet from his friend. He avoids comparisons of the lady’s charms with objects of natural beauty: “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.Sonnets 109 -112 and 115-116 seek a restoration of the poet in his friend’s heart.

and later life renew. shame. La fel s-o şterge numele-mi uşor. Sir Thomas Wyatt. b. disgust or fear. others introduce general statements to further illustrate them. Sir Philip Sidney. painting. Ci tu prin har vei dăinui în lume. Sonetul LX Cum valurile cresc peste prundişuri minute curg spre moartea-n zbor nebun. in general. Copile. Identify the most important innovations in poetry writing of the following Renaissance writers: a. Şi-n cer voi dăltui cerescu-ţi nume. Nu. rhythm). And eke my name be wiped out likewise. But came the waves and washed it away: Again I wrote it with a second hand. to consider them the finest love sonnets ever written in the English language (if not in any language. 2000: 115-120) 1. thematic content. Practical Applications. "Vain man. For I myself shall like to this decay.) (Gavriliu. Dar valul năvălind. They include delight. astrology. e. and made my pains his prey. stylistic peculiarities. Ş-acolo. Edmund Spenser Sonnet LXXV One day I wrote her name upon the strand. ce-ncerci în van S-nveşniceşti un lucru pieritor. Answer the following questions: a. Examination Tests. but you shall live by fame: My verse your vertues rare shall eternize." said she. c. business. Voi nemuri în vers făptura-ţi rară. Some sonnets begin with “a remembrance of things past”. Eu însămi va la fel să mă destram. ce-i calp în ţărână moară. So do our minutes hasten to their end. d. Who introduced for the first time the Italian sonnet in English literature? b. Each changing place with that which goes before. pride. c. What are the differences in structure between the Italian and the English sonnet? c. l-a şters pe dată: Şi iar l-am scris." Sonetul LXXV I-am scris alesei numele-n nisip. And in the heavens write your glorious name: Where whenas death shall all the world subdue. Read the following sonnets and compare them in terms of: a. Edmund Spenser. What was the first significant collection of Renaissance verse published in England? d. Who are the historical characters whom William Shakespeare dedicated his sonnets to? g." "Not so. Henry Howard. The moods go beyond those of the Petrarchan lover. când peri-va lumea toată Trăi-vom cu iubire-mprospătată William Shakespeare Sonnet LX Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore. melancholy. form (sonnet type and structure. rhyme. William Shakespeare. Dar marea şi-a făcut din truda-mi pradă. 1. Earl of Surrey.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry The rhetorical strategy in the sonnets is extremely varied. and readership. But came the tide. Our love shall live. întru acelaşi chip. nu! strigai. The imagery comes from a wide variety of sources: gardening. navigation. others are commanding in tone. All these qualities of the Shakespearean sonnets entitle modern scholarship. family life. A mortal thing so to immortalize. What is an allegory? What allegorical elements can be identified in Spenser’s The Fairie Queene? f. 3. What are the main themes of William Shakespeare’s sonnets? 2. e. locul şi-l lasă fără ocolişuri 22 English Renaissance Literature . What is a sonnet sequence? Name the Renaissance poets who wrote sonnet sequences. spuse ea. "that dost in vain assay. law. in particular. b." (quod I) "let baser things devise To die in dust. 5.

if that long-with love-acquainted eyes Can judge of love.. Înoată ştiuci. The busy bee her honey now she mings. and freeze like ice. 4. Îmi place că mă doare şi vesel sunt plângând. And yet of death it giveth me occasion. slăvindu-te în ciuda mâinii crude. Şi-n raiu-acesta orice păsuri mor – Doar eu rămân aleanului dator . Winter is worn that was the flowers' bale. Doar versul meu prin vremi se mai aude. With green hath clad the hill and eke the vale. thy state descries. De viaţă şi de moarte sunt dezgustat de rând. And my delight is causer of this strife. Nativity once in the main of light. mă chinui viaţa-ntreagă! In imitation of Petrarch. Surrey’s spring is English rather than Italian. în zale noi şi ele. şi ard. Henry Howard. şi-s gheaţă.. Strâng miere-acum albine harnicele. Without eyen I see. Nici viu nu mă doreşte. and laugh in all my pain. thou feel'st a lover's case. Then. despite his cruel hand. Summer is come. tell me. O Moon. nici nu mă iartă. That locketh nor loseth holdeth me in prison. Prin strungi pierd cerbii coarne vechi şi grele . tell me. The fishes flete with new repaired scale. that bud and bloom forth brings. I read it in thy looks. Te naşti într-a oceanului splendoare. Sir Philip Sidney With how sad steps. The adder all her slough away she slings. Şi mă urăsc pe mine pe cât mi-i ea de dragă. Şi-n ceruri zbor. Tot ce-i vigoare Timpul încovoaie. thou feel'st a lover's case. Likewise displeaseth me both death and life. The swift swallow pursueth the flyes smale. Se face cald. Şi sper. I desire to perish. and all the world I seize on. prin vârste curgi dar Timpul ţi-a sortit eclipse. thou climb'st the skies! How silently. viaţa o despoaie iar coasa lungă n-ai cum să i-o furi. may it be that even in heav'nly place That busy archer his sharp arrows tries! Sure. that feel the like. for every spray now springs. care le răpun. doth now his gift confound. and yet my sorrow springs. wherin eche thing renewes. Crawls to maturity. Când văi primesc strai verde. Sonnet 104: “Description of the Contrarious Passions in a Lover”. şi mă cuprinde frica. Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth. O Moon. and with how wan a face! What. Când cântă nou penet.. O Moon. The turtle to her make hath told her tale. and without tongue I 'plain. cresc lujerii priori . 1 1 Pierdută-mi este pacea Pierdută-mi este pacea: n-am arme să mă bat. And yet to times in hope. Then. şi muncele. Vezi iuţi lăstuni de gâze vânători. fruntea ţi-o taie cu încreţituri cu-averi se-ndoapă. The hart hath hung his old head on the pale. thy languish'd grace To me. thy languish'd grace To me. Îşi leapădă năpârca-ntreaga-i piele. And Time that gave. wherewith being crowned.. şi-n ţărnă zac pururi nemişcat. I read it in thy looks. celor din urmă. nor die at my devise. lupte laşe şi surpare devălmăşind tot ce ţi-a dăruit. that feel the like. O Moon. 1 1 Descrierea primăverii Dulce-anotimp când muguri ies. şi. nici nu mă-nchide-n ea. I feed me in sorrow. ev'n of fellowship. N-am ochi şi văd. La piept strâng humea-ntreagă şi n-am la piept nimica. yet can I not arise. and yet I ask health. And nought I have. Nu vrea să mă ucidă Amor. Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth. Şi năpârlesc prin cătini căpriori. Nici liber un mă lasă. my verse shall stand Praising thy worth. thy state descries. And thus I see among these pleasant things Each care decays. And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow. Is constant love deem'd there but want of wit? Are beauties there as proud as here they be? Do they above love to be lov'd. And holdeth me not. if that long-with love-acquainted eyes Can judge of love. The buck in brake his winter coat he flings.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry In sequent toil all forwards do contend. I love another. may it be that even in heav'nly place That busy archer his sharp arrows tries! Sure. Is constant love deem'd there but want of wit? Are beauties there as proud as here they be? Do they above love to be lov'd. and thus I hate myself.. saue onelie the louer. and yet English Renaissance Literature 23 . and all my war is done: I fear. and yet With how sad steps. Tottel’s title: “Description of Spring. E dusă iarna – gâde-al florilor. fără de limbă strig la cer. thou climb'st the skies! How silently. And delves the parallels in beauty's brow. Madonă. Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight. Earl of Surrey The Soote Season The soote season. I burn. and hope. nici chinul nu mi-l ia. privighetori Iar turtureii vin la turturele. yet can I 'scape nowise: Nor letteth me live. I fly above the wind. Din vina ta. Analyse the following sonnets: Sir Thomas Wyatt I Find No Peace I find no peace.. M-a prins într-o-nchisoare făr’ de zăvor la poartă.” Adapted from Petrarch’s 310th (269th) sonnet (in some editions the 42nd sonetto in Morte). şi flori. The nightingale with feathers new she sings. ev'n of fellowship. and with how wan a face! What.

Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade. Regina-n glorii-a Ţării Zânelor – Lui slavă şi-al ei har să-şi dobândească. c. Read the following fragment from Edmund Spenser’s The Fairie Queene and answer the following questions: a. Sonetul XVIII Cu-o zi a verii poate să te semui? Tu eşti mai plin de farmec şi mai blând! Un vânt doboară creanga şi blestemu-i că frunza verii moare prea curând. So long as men can breathe or eyes can see. Upon his foe. Drag suvenir murindului Domn sfânt. Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st. cu braţul să-şi măsoare. precum şi pe pământ. Fier nu purtase încă în turnir. Pe scut acelaşi semn şi-a fost săpând. For whose sweete sake that glorious badge he wore. e. To winne him worship. Y cladd in mightie armes and silver shielde. Cu mare faptă se ştia dator Domniţei Gloriana cea crăiască. Un mândru Făt da pinteni peste plai. and faire did sitt. And ever as he rode. As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters fitt. And dead as living ever him ador'd: Upon his shield the like was also scor'd. and this gives life to thee. How would you describe the text in terms of form (stanza type. But on his brest a bloudie Crosse he bore. gonind. f. Which of all earthly things he most did crave. 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 24 English Renaissance Literature . As much disdayning to the curbe to yield: Full iolly knight he seemd. 2. a Dragon horrible and stearne. How is he portrayed?. Cât oamenii privesc şi cât respiră trăieşti şi în cântu-nchis în liră. Yet nothing did he dread. And every fair from fair sometime declines. d. Sirep fugaci. Purta pe pieptu-i cruce sângerie. which in his helpe he had: Right faithfull true he was in deede and word. Who is the character referred to?. simţea ardoare Mult să străluce-n luptă voinicească Frângând vrăşmaş. ce falnic se ţinea Ca unul vrednic de-ncleştări.Section 1: Sixteenth-Century English Poetry Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess? Do they call virtue there ungratefulness? (Sonnet XXXI) Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess? Do they call virtue there ungratefulness? (Sonnet XXXI) William Shakespeare Sonnet XVIII Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May. Nădejde-naltă-n naltul ajutor: Cinstit era în faptă şi-n cuvânt. And often is his gold complexion dimmed. What features of archaic language can be identified?. How does the fragment anticipate the further development of the main plot line in Book I?. Yet armes till that time did he never wield: His angry steede did chide his foming bitt. his hart did earne To prove his puissance in battell brave Upon his foe. But of his cheere did seeme too solemne sad. rhythm. Balaur. Înveşmântat în fier. Frângând vrăşmaş. So long lives this. Wherein old dints of deepe wounds did remaine. or nature's changing course untrimmed: But thy eternal summer shall not fade. cu scut de-arghir Pe care zimţi de răni adânci vedeai Tot semn de-ncrâncenate-mpotriviri. înfiorate prea. Şi tot gonind. b. That greatest Glorious Queene of Faerie land. Dar vara ta eternă nu păleşte şi n-ai să pierzi ce astăzi stăpâneşti în umbra morţii n-ai să plimbi caleşte când într-un vers etern ţi-e dat să creşti. but ever was ydrad. ci nicicând temător. The deare remembrance of his dying Lord. How can the allegorical pattern enclosed in the fragment be decoded?. Ades e ochiul cerului fierbinte şi aur îl precede-ntunecat precum frumosul din frumos descinde sub cerul simplei firi. fiară-ngrozitoare. Dar chipu-i prea înnegurat de-un nor. Upon a great adventure he was bond. By chance. netulburat. The cruell markes of many' a bloudy fielde. Drag sus în cer. and her grace to have. Şi-n dragul LUI purta el crucea vie. For soveraine hope. And summer's lease hath all too short a date: Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines. El cel mereu temut. When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st. muşca zăbala grea Ne-nduplecat să rabde frâul-zbir Frumosul Făt. Cea mai râvnită avere pământească. rhyme)? 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A Gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine. That greatest Gloriana to him gave. and his new force to learne.

and they were often organized before the plays started. and The Globe is famously remembered as the theatre in which many of Shakespeare’s plays were first performed. It is true that they continued to tour throughout Elizabeth’s reign (especially during the Plague in London. Companies of actors (usually small. Nevertheless. but also in churches. The first purpose built theatre building in England was simply called The Theatre. the Burbages had become members of Lord Chamberlain’s Company. or anywhere else that a large crowd could be gathered to view a performance. at Shoreditch in the northern outskirts of London. bull baiting. Elizabethan Playhouses and Theatrical Performances When Elizabeth became Queen of England in 1558. E. The Cross Keys. The Theatre was followed the next year (1577) by The Curtain. by the Earl of Leicester’s Men who were led by James Burbage. in 1587 by The Rose and in 1595 by The Swan (to mention but the most famous theatres).g. The Bull. The former were amphitheatre buildings open to the air and therefore cheaper – The Globe. bear baiting and fencing shows were very popular by that time. Town Halls.g. The first permanent theatres in England were old inns which had been used as temporary acting areas when the companies had been touring. Town Squares. By this time. 1. made of 5 to 8 members) toured the country and performed in a wide variety of temporary acting spaces. mainly in inn yards. given the laws passed by the Queen to control wandering beggars and vagrants – which implicitly affected the acting companies as well – many actors were encouraged to settle down with permanent bases in London. Some of the inns that became theatres had substantial alterations made to their structure to allow them to be used as playhouses. The Bell – all originally built as inns. for instance.) Before going into more details regarding the structure of the Elizabethan theatre.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century 2. eventually giving its name to all such building erected in the outskirts of London and functioning until the closing of the theatres in 1642 during the Civil War. there were no specially designed theatre buildings. however. Rebuilt. distinction should be made. The latter (e. a carpenter turned actor. between two categories of playhouses: the public (outdoor) theatres and the private (indoor) theatres. along with William Shakespeare. It seems that the design of The Theatre was based on that of bull-baiting and bear-baiting yards (as a matter of fact. The Theatre was built in 1576. a dispute over the land on which The Theatre stood determined Burbage’s sons to secretly tear down the building and carry away the timber to build a new playhouse on the Bankside which they names The Globe. great halls of Royal Palaces or other great houses. 25 English Renaissance Literature . The modern reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London was completed in 1997. it was closed and demolished in 1644 during the Civil War. The Rise of the Secular Drama 2. when theatres were closed or earned but little money). charged two pence for a seat in the galleries or a single penny to stand in the yard. The Bel Savage. (The Globe was destroyed in 1613 in a fire caused by the sparks of a cannon fired during the performance of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII. 1.). 1. In 1599.

The adult companies did not start to use the private hall theatres until after Elizabeth’s death.by this time the King’s Men . Structure and Design of Public/ Outdoor Theatres Public theatres were polygonal . The Cockpit) were built to a hall design in enclosed and usually rectangular buildings more like the theatres we know today. called the “Tiring House” used by actors to dress. some of the boxes of the stage gallery were used for audience seating. there were bow-windows used for the frequent window/ balcony scenes (e. The musicians started playing an hour before the beginning of the play and also played at appropriate moments throughout the performance.when necessary. there was the stage gallery which could be used for multiple purposes: . . on top of this structure. They were referred to as the “Lord’s rooms” and considered the best (and hence the most expensive) seats in the ‘house’ despite the poor view of the back of the actors. referred to as the “Hut” presumably 26 English Renaissance Literature . back stage. there was also what might be called a fourth storey of the tiring-house. They had amore exclusive audience since they charged considerably more – the cheapest seat in a private theatre cost sixpence. a wooden stage supported by large pillars. The stage wall behind these pillars was called “Frons Scenae” (taken from the name given by Imperial Rome to the stage walls of their amphitheatres) provided with doors to the left and to the right and a curtained central doorway – referred to as the “discovery space” – which allowed characters to be suddenly revealed or a play within a play to be acted. devils and similar characters to be raised up) and was surrounded by three tiers of roofed galleries (thatched. overlooking the back of the stage. etc. the stage wall structure contained two doors (at least) leading to a small structure.hexagonal outside and round inside (“a wooden O” as Shakespeare puts it in Henry V). An open-air arena – called “pit” or “yard” – had. (Nevertheless. Thus the arrangement of a front stage and two-storeyed back stage permitted three actions to go on simultaneously and a life-like parallelism of events. Romeo and Juliet). The rear stage was covered by a roof – which they called “Heavens” through which.as an acting space: on either sides.another part of the gallery could be used as a music-room. As previously mentioned.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century Blackfriars. . by means of ropes. Above the stage gallery. at one end. with trap doors for special effects (to allow ghosts. Immediately above the inner stage. but they were used by the boy companies (made up entirely of child and teenage actors) in Elizabeth’s reign and were used by Shakespeare’s Company .) There were also additional balconies on the left and right of the “Lord’s rooms” called the “Gentlemen’s rooms”. Music was an extra effect added in the 1600’s. which was often used to represent the walls of a castle or a city.. there is a third storey connected with the “Heavens” extending forward from the tiring-house over the rear part of the stage. The rear wall of this inner stage was covered by tapestry. for flying or dramatic entrances – held up by massive pillars and obstructing the view of audience members from various angles. the only usual “scenery” used on the stage. also meant for the rich patrons of the theatres. Last but not least. they could lower down the actors playing the gods/ angels.and other adult companies in the Jacobean period.g. the audience at large would have a good view of the Lords and the Lords were able to hear the actors clearly. later on tiled roofs) with balconies. prepare and wait offstage.

for example.Mary Frith. Unlike modern theatres. The Elizabethan actor did not have much time. therefore. and a particularly successful play might only be repeated once a month or so. The galleries could be reached by the two sets of stairs in the structure.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century used as a storage space and housing suspension gear for flying effects. Elizabethan theatres normally performed six different plays in their six day week. if it was a history) was erected to let the world know a play was to be performed that day. a theatrical company could perform thirty-eight different plays. craftsmen. if it was a tragedy. the admission collectors put the boxes in a room backstage. The rehearsal and performance schedule that Elizabethan Players followed was intense and demanding. a flag (a black one. called the “box office. On top of the “hut”. after collecting money from the audience. All of the actors in an Elizabethan Theatre company were male (which might explain the scarcity of female roles in Elizabethan drama). where a successful play can run for years at a time. while the third storey stage cover served as a loading room for players preparing to ‘fly’ down to the stage. but otherwise English women had no part in the performance of Elizabethan plays. in a typical season. usually dominated by singing and dancing). for those who watched the play from the yard. The Merchant of Venice or Twelfth Night) speeches had to be included making it very clear that this was the same character in a new costume.” The Players There were invariably many more parts than actors. if it was a comedy. The second gallery would cost another penny. Elizabethan Theatre.was arrested in the Jacobean period for singing and playing instruments onstage during a performance of a play about her life (Middleton and Dekker’s The Roaring Girl) and some suggest that she may actually have been illegally playing herself in the performance. many of Shakespeare’s female characters disguise themselves as boys – e. and women sometimes took part in Court Masques (a very stylised and spectacular sort of performance for the Court. The male actors who played female parts have traditionally been described as “Boy Actors” – they were actually boys whose voices had not changed. 1 penny. The access to the playhouse was ensured by one main entrance.g. better known as Moll Cutpurse . or more.e. on either side of the theatre. to prepare for each new play. therefore. demanded that an actor be able to play numerous roles and make it obvious to the audience by changes in his acting style and costume that he was a new person each time. There were few formal rehearsals for each play and no equivalent of the modern Director English Renaissance Literature 27 . standing. and not a completely new character. and must have had to learn lines and prepare his blocking largely on his own and in his spare time – probably helped by the tendency of writers to have particular actors in mind for each part. or a red one. At the start of the play. When the same character came on disguised (as. apprentices). There were laws in England against women acting onstage and English travellers abroad were amused and amazed by the strange customs of Continental European countries that allowed women to play female roles. The first gallery would cost another penny in the box which was held by a collector (“gatherer”) at the front of the stairs. Exceptions : One woman . For example. called the “Groundlings” (shopkeepers. and to write roles which were suited to the particular strengths and habits of individual actors. where playgoers had to put the admission fee – i. a white one. up to 4-5 pence for the gentry and the great lords sitting in the galleries.

Shakespeare complains in Hamlet about the fact that the fool often spoke a great deal that was not included in his script. The actors were kept in constant motion and. With no modern stage lighting to enhance the actors and put the audience into darkness. Globe audience members could see each other exactly as well as they could see the performers and the Groundlings in particular were near enough to the stage to be able to touch the actors if they wanted to and the front row of the Groundlings routinely leaned their arms and heads onto the front of the stage itself. asking riddles and questions and demanding witty answers.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century (although presumably the writer. and in the early Elizabethan period especially it seems to have been normal for the fool to include a great deal of improvised repartee and jokes in his performance.would have given some direction to other actors). The Groundlings were also forced to stand for two or three hours without much movement.who owned shares in the theatre company . but some plays .which could be anything from a simple ballad to a quite complicated musical play. That means that there would have been no need to wait for scene changes. and sometimes the fool and other comic actors would perform a jig .this saved on the laborious task of copying out the full play repeatedly by hand. they had to face in as many different directions as possible during a scene. Elizabethan audiences seem to 28 English Renaissance Literature . The law expected plays to last between two and two and a half hours. Instead of being given full scripts. We do not even know how long Elizabethan plays usually ran. about how Elizabethan actors actually played their roles. Some time was apparently put aside for the fool to respond to challenges from the audience . At the end of the play the Elizabethan actors often danced.with spectators inventing rhymes and challenging the fool to complete them. unfortunately. There was a bookholder or prompter who held a complete script and who helped actors who had forgotten their lines.seem much too long to have been performed in such a short time. What props and scenery there were in the Elizabethan Theatre were probably carried on and off while the scenes continued. Performance Techniques We know very little. given the design of the stage. All entrances and exits were through the doors at the rear of the stage proper: one actor left through one door while a second actor would appear through the second door to swing into the next scene. normally a farce involving adultery and other bawdy topics. especially responding to hecklers in the audience. or simply arguing and criticising the fool so that he could respond.such as Hamlet. Another aspect of Elizabethan performance that we know a little about was the use of clowns or fools. Occasionally music may have been played between Acts or certain scenes. theatre managers. while actors were continually moving forward and backward into the midst of the surrounding audience. where candles had to be trimmed and replaced between Acts. Performances probably ran continuously without any sort of interval or Act Breaks. and the most important actors . each actor had a written “part”. This means that the Groundlings frequently shouted up at the actors or hissed the villains and cheered the goodies. but scholars think this was quite unusual except in the hall playhouses. which encouraged short attention spans and a desire to take action rather than remain completely immobile. a long scroll with nothing more than his own lines and minimal cue lines (the lines spoken by another actor just before his own) to tell him when to speak . which in modern times runs for more than four hours .

standing directly in front of the stage). This idea is given extra weight by the fact that in the public outdoor theatres.looking at the action from behind . knockabout song-and-dance farces. royal weddings or winning a battle.and otherwise the higher the seats the more an audience member had to pay. the most expensive seats were not the ones with the best views (in fact the best view is to be had by the Groundlings. these formal groups used all the most ornate costumes they owned.e. Masques were always held in private playhouses.obstructed by the pillars and the extravagant headgear that richer members of the audience were wearing . Frequently resembling popular ballads. • dumb-shows/processions: parades or spectacles. Dumb-shows appeared at the end of each act to summarize the events of the following act. Separate from the plays. 2. The First Comedies and Tragedies “By the turn of the 15th century. Whatever its English Renaissance Literature 29 . however. The most expensive seating was in the Lord’s box or balcony behind the stage . i. These were celebrations.and were particularly well known for hurling nut shells and fruit when they disliked an actor or a performance. hence the origin of the word “audience” itself.) Specific aspects of Elizabethan performances: • bear-baiting: three bears in ascending size are set upon by an English hound in a fight to the death! • fencing: less gruesome. prostitutes were actively soliciting for trade. jigs were often commentaries on politics or religion. Other records of the age consider the interlude as a play performed outdoors in summer. The Elizabethan audience was still more distracted.and it is possible that in the densely crowded theatre . The term was first used as a brief play between the courses of a banquet.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century have been very responsive in this way . The morality plays reached a point when it is impossible distinguish clearly between them and the early secular interludes. Processions were more solemn as actors moved mannequin-like across the stage. After 1500 the term "interlude" can to be used indiscriminately for any play maintaining its character of secular humour. these were bawdy. dumb-shows were considered old-fashioned and corny. • jigs: at the conclusion of a play. including crowns and sceptres.as their interactions with the Fool suggests . the later moralities began to incorporate more and more non religious material. the actors would dance around the stage. (Some Elizabethan documents suggest that the reason for this range of prices was the richer patron’s desire to be as far from the stink of the Groundlings as possible. 1. Elizabethan audiences may have “viewed” plays very differently. they went to hear one . since beer and food were being sold and consumed throughout the performance. like the Globe. but those which were most easily seen by other audience members. and pickpockets were busy stealing goods as the play progressed. 2. Designed as banquets of the senses. By the turn of the century. these celebrations spanned several days during which each member of the party played a part in the allegorical theme of the banquet. The Elizabethans did not speak of going to see a play. this civilized sport also took place before plays. torches and swords. • masques: masques were plays put on strictly by the royals.the Elizabethan audience was more concerned to hear the words spoken than to be able to see the action.

The scholarly revival of interest in the ancient drama contributed to a vigorous playwriting in England's schools and colleges. The play displays the appearance of the love-triangle drama for the first time in English. Scholars are unanimous in emphasising the progress towards secularity and realism marked by Fulgens and Lucrece "With love as a central theme the play is neither Biblical. the academic drama was meant as an educational device to instruct in moral lessons and literary style. in the noblemen's houses and at the Inns of Court. Ralph Roister Doister. Modelled after the classic Latin dramas of Plautus. 1490) was a teacher in the household of Cardinal Morton. moralities and interludes continued to be quite popular. Humour derives from the social satire addressed at the avarice of the middle classes. but strikingly secular". Ralph Roister Doister (written in 1535 and published about 1567) is usually referred to as first English comedy. significant names of the characters.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century origin or exact meaning it is out of the interlude that the wholly secular drama in English developed in the further years. It follows the five act division and observes the unities of time. After being deceived by false reports. The play in short rhymed doggerel represents the courting of the widow Custance. Henry Medwall (fl. It was written by humanist scholars first in Latin than in English. After the youths debate their claims Lucretia chooses Flaminius. Ralph Roister is instigated by the mischievous Merrygreek and is repulsed and beaten by Custance and her maids. From 1550 on the drama embarked upon a period of tremendous flourishing. nor allegorical. an absent merchant. He is the author of a morality. Flowers of Latin Speaking Selected and Gathered out of Terence which was used as a text book of style by schoolboys in Tudor times. by Roister. a swaggering simpleton. who is betrothed to Gawin Goodluck. The hand of Lucretia. Headmaster of Eaton and of Westminster School. Ralph is modelled on the classical "milles gloriosus" and Merrygreek is the classical parasite. Nicholas Udall was also the author of a selection of phrases from Terence. at the Inns of Court and in colleges. Plays were performed at Court. puns. the cowardly braggart soldier "is the remote ancestor of Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff in Henry IV". in the halls of the noblemen. proverbs. It was perhaps played by Westminster boys while Udall was headmaster of that school. Lucretia is allowed to make her own choice. The plot involves characters that are far from the abstractions of the typical morality plays. Another original contribution of Medwall is the parallel humorous subplot which introduces two servants designated A and B rivalling each other for the hand of Lucretia's maid. Written about 1497 and published about 1515 it shows no traces of allegory. "the flower of the frying pan". daughter of the Roman senator Fulgentio is sought for by the noble and wealthy Cornelius and the poor but honest Flaminius. but his next play Fulgens and Lucres ranks as the earliest known English secular play. generally but not exclusively by professional actors. Terence and Seneca and performed by student actors. from the lovely language of the play. the academic drama emerged in the schools. 30 English Renaissance Literature . place and action. From its opening one can understand that it was meant for acting between the courses of a banquet. While the folk plays. written in the old allegorical traditions. Nature. The play shows similarity to the comedies of Plautus and Terence. In the spirit of the advanced ideas of the Renaissance. Nicholas Udall (1505-l556). Goodluck is reconciled with Custance.

the ale-house keeper has taken the needle. vivid native English material put into the regular form of the Latin comedies of Plautus and Terence looked forward to the comedies of Shakespeare. The characters’ speech is racy and vigorous. The play voices the popular aspirations for unity and order. The angry people rise in rebellion to kill both Gorboduc and Videna. The most important innovation of Gorboduc is the blank verse here employed in drama for the first time. The play deals farcically with the losing and finding of the needle used to mend the garments of Hodge. William Stevenson or John Bridges. The scenes of horror and violence so peculiar to Seneca take place off stage and are related by messengers in lengthy discourses. The concern for the lost needle is understandable since needles. Gammer Gurton's man. The lords put down the rebellion but they wage an indecisive civil war. the curate." of Christ Church College. were scarce and expensive. A "Mr. recently introduced in 1545. The original creation of the English Renaissance dramatists was the chronicle play the prototype of which was King Johan (c. Seneca’s tragedies ware constructed in five acts and had violent and bloody plots. S. available in the original Latin throughout the Renaissance. In vengeance. Thomas Sackville and Thomas Norton. The tragedies of the English humanists were modelled on Seneca whose plays were. his mother's favourite. space and action. a Roman Catholic priest converted to Protestantism. rhetorical speeches and the presence of ghosts among the characters. 2000: 94-7) English Renaissance Literature 31 . It was presented at the Christmas feast of the Inner Temple (150162) where young men studied law. 1538) by John Bale. each ending with a chorus of five old Britons. The drama represents the earliest employment of historical material. Cambridge wrote it and the play has been ascribed in turn to John Still. Equally classical in form as Udall's comedy. king Gordoduc divides his kingdom among his children with disastrous result. translations appeared in 1581. Some are tempted to see in it a hint to Elizabeth that she should marry and secure an heir to the throne thus avoiding the chaos of Gorboduc. The greatest merit of the play consists in its realism presenting the genuine local colour of an English village in the 16th century. They chose a legendary tale of ancient Britain derived from Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae. requiring a foreign king to be chosen. the play is divided into five acts. are the authors of this tragedy. Later it was acted before the queen. of course. […] This combination of lively.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century Gammer Gurton's Needle written about 1555 and published in 1575 of an uncertain authorship is the second English comedy in verse. observing unities of time. The parasitical Diccon persuades the Gammer that Dame Chat. Finally Hodge becomes painfully aware that the needle is in the seat of his breaches. is called in only to get his head broken. A "dumb show” or pantomime preceding each act proved highly popular to subsequent dramatists (see Hamlet). queen Videna murders Porrex. The play is set in the legendary very early period of English history shared by Shakespeare's King Lear and like Lear. Two young lawyers. The first English. Sir Philip Sidney praises the tragedy in his Defense of Poetrie. Gammer Gurton's Needle cleverly spins out its humour along five classical acts. The action is laid in the English countryside and the characters are typical of the villages of the late feudal times. Following Seneca. Gorboduc or Ferrex and Porrex is often termed the first true English tragedy.” (Gavriliu. a quarrel ensues and Doctor Rat. In a quarrel Porrex kills his brother Ferrex.

young people fresh from the humanistic training in the universities who moulded the medieval forms of the drama into the pattern of their classical education. but he probably became an apprentice in his father’s trade. beautified with our feathers. full of freshness. being tortured on Literary history owes Robert Greene the first professional reference to Shakespeare: “there is an upstart Crow.” Yet.” 2 32 English Renaissance Literature . he did not attend either Cambridge or Oxford like his fellow University Wits. 2000: 101-2) 2. After graduating the Merchant Taylors’ School. while George-aGreene’s mainly relied on The Pinner of Wakefield (1588) as an “expression of the democratic trends in the drama of English humanists. important improvements in comedy writing. of fairies as characters. the Elizabethan romantic comedy. Some of them had a great contempt for unlettered competitors like Shakespeare. Born in London in a prosperous middle-class family. 2. In the hands of these wild but gifted writers. it is The Scottish Historie of James the Fourth (pb. 1. introducing the remote but enchanted “never-never” land. that with his Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde. is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrie. that reinforced the popularity of Robert Greene (1560-1592)2. But his success as a playwright would not spare him persecution by the Queen’s secret agents who searched his house in 1593 on suspicion of his taking an active part in spreading antigovernmental material together with his friend and former co-tenant Christopher Marlowe. George Peele’s contribution is equally significant as he seems to have founded.” Elizabethan drama owes to some of them. supposes he is as well able to bumbast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes fac totum. of songs and music as well as of the excessively ornate and extravagant euphuistic style (that had previously made his ‘novels’ famous). The Queen’s agents allegedly found a pamphlet which they deemed “atheistic. Lyly’s comedies – chief among which the comedy of manners Mother Bombie (1594) – are innovative in their introduction of the device of girls disguised as boys. thus benefiting from excellent classical training (Virgil and Seneca) providing him with the proper scholarly background that he could later on draw on in writing his plays.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century 2. They paved the way for Shakespeare who was to carry the Elizabethan drama to perfection. the most influential figures among the University Wits were Thomas Kyd and Christopher Marlowe. in which Oberon – the king of the fairies appears for the first time. by far. (Gavriliu. 1598). high spirits and optimism. Thomas Kyd attended the Merchant Taylors’ School (Edmund Spenser also attended this school at the same time). Others tried their hand at writing not only comedies but also tragedies and histories: for instance. The University Wits “The career of the public theatre between 1585-1595 is usually connected with the name of the University Wits. with his comedy The Old Wives’ Tale. He also found employment as a translator and it is believed that by 1583 he was already writing for the stage. 2. Most of them seem to have had a taste for dissolute living and encountered untimely deaths. namely John Lyly (15541606) and George Peele (1557-1596).” Thus Kyd ended up in prison. the play of human passion and action was expressed for the first time with true dramatic effect. Thomas Kyd (1558-1594) Life.

But we have reason to believe that there was a conflict between the old custom of seeking private revenge for wrongs done to one’s family. it is difficult to gauge the exact state of the Elizabethan mind with regards to revenge. Actually. Work. inherited largely from the Anglo-Saxon and Danish influences on English culture. there was probably a great deal of confusion as to the moral status of revenge. though very controversial. Case Study: The Spanish Tragedy The success of Kyd’s tragedy. the grieving mistress.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century suspicion of spreading heresy and atheism. and Bel-Imperia. I will repay”. methodically plotted out in a Machiavellian manner. In other words. sayeth the lord. a hot-blooded revenge committed in a fit of passion was preferable to a cold-blooded revenge. including Hieronimo.on the one hand. An Elizabethan audience may have been somewhat pleased at the denouement of the tragedy. which also discouraged private revenge in favour of revenge under the auspices of the law. Two more plays were also ascribed to Kyd: Ur-Hamlet. the revenge theme. which culminated with the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. where the royal lines of both Spain and Portugal are wiped out in a frenzied orgy of violence. though some types of revenge were definitely held to be worse than others: for example. the most successful was The Spanish Tragedy or Hieronimo Is Mad Again! (1586). and that it had accidentally been shuffled in among his papers. a Spanish nobleman in love with the beautiful daughter of the Duke of Castile. The play begins with the ghost of Don Andrea. Among them.e. who is killed in a recent battle against Portugal by the Portuguese prince Balthazar. But as they are unable to reach a English Renaissance Literature 33 . and most of the interesting avengers of Elizabethan drama. about the revenge that Hieronimo. but he soon died in utter poverty. All his plays were published anonymously. a third factor had entered into the debate. employ deception and ruse to achieve their ends. In such circumstances. the Elizabethans were fascinated when it was represented on stage. for the Christian. Accompanied by the spirit of Revenge. Old Hamlet and Arden of Feversham. Kyd seems to have evoked in his tragedy the strong anti-Spanish sentiment prevalent among his countrymen. as well as from the Christian injunction of Vindicta mihi. Bel-Imperia. revenge against wrongdoers is the responsibility of God. In Elizabethan times. set against the background of the conflict between the Spanish and the Portuguese in 1580. Kyd protested that the pamphlet belonged to Marlowe. Marlowe was killed in a tavern brawl before he could confirm Kyd’s testimony. Yet. i. this one also remains a matter of conjecture. . not men. Kyd was eventually released. carefully. like many other aspects of Kyd’s life. he faces the judges who are supposed to assign him to his place in the underworld. “Vengeance is mine. Though they abhorred Machiavellianism in public.on the other hand. Balthazar and Lorenzo may be explained in at least two distinct ways: . because much of what survives on the subject comes from the preachers who were trying to discourage it. namely the increasingly centralized and powerful state. take against Horatio’s murderers. in the context of the conflict between England and Spain. the grieving father. the hero of The Spanish Tragedy. with whom he had been roommates in the summer of 1591. was very popular among the Elizabethans.

now centering on a diplomatic marriage between Balthazar and Bel-Imperia to unite the royal lines of the two countries. though lower-born. Worried by Hieronimo's behavior. Hieronimo then vows to revenge himself privately on the two killers. by the Andrea's good friend Horatio. Hieronimo casts himself in the 34 English Renaissance Literature . In Portugal. and convinces Lorenzo and Balthazar to act in it. where the decision is made that Revenge should accompany him back to the world of the living to see his death revenged. He then leads Pedringano to believe that a pardon for his crime is hidden in a box brought to the execution by a messenger boy. thus making royal justice unavailable to the distressed father. Just before the play is acted. but he finds out from her servant Pedringano that Bel-Imperia is in love with Horatio. Balthazar falls in love with Bel-Imperia. He is soon joined in uncontrollable grief by his wife. Isabella. King and Queen of the Underworld. they send him to the palace of Pluto and Proserpine. letting Horatio have the ransom money to be paid for Balthazar and Lorenzo keep the captured prince at his home. so Pedringano will not expose Lorenzo before he is hanged. He tells Pedringano to kill Serberine for gold but arranges it so that Pedringano is immediately arrested after the crime. While living in Spain. Hieronimo receives a bloody letter in Bel-Imperia's hand. Lorenzo. Lorenzo acts in a Machiavellian manner to eliminate all evidence surrounding his crime. Villuppo is then sentenced to death. to ensure Balthazar's return and a lasting peace between Spain and Portugal. In Spain. identifying the murderers as Lorenzo and Balthazar. Back in Portugal. Negotiations continue between Spain and Portugal. who returns her affections. by now a confederate in Hieronimo's plot for revenge. So the jealous Balthazar and the spiteful Lorenzo (who hates Horatio because of the fight over Balthazar's capture and because. The King of Spain decides to compromise between the two. Isabella. son of Hieronimo. Horatio has won the heart of his sister) decide to kill Horatio. Alexandro escapes death when the Portuguese ambassador returns from Spain with news that Balthazar still lives. a letter is found on Pedringano's body that confirms Hieronimo's suspicion over Lorenzo and Balthazar. Bel-Imperia. during an evening rendez-vous between the two lovers. Hieronimo is almost driven insane by his inability to find justice for his son. for he believes his son to be dead. the son of the Duke of Castile and brother of Bel-Imperia also claims the royal prisoner. but he is uncertain whether or not to believe it. the Viceroy is mad with grief. kills herself. Alexandro. and he uses it to carry out his revenge. but Lorenzo is able to deny Hieronimo access to the king. the Knight Marshal of Spain. Bel-Imperia is then taken away before Hieronimo stumbles on to the scene to discover his dead son. and the Viceroy travels to Spain to attend the ceremony.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century decision. using deception and a false show of friendship to keep Lorenzo off his guard. Ironically. The marriage between Bel-Imperia and Balthazar is set. On the battlefield. and is tricked by Villuppo into arresting an innocent noble. the Spanish won and Balthazar was taken prisoner shortly after Andrea's death. insane with grief. for Balthazar's murder. The plot of this play-within-theplay mirrors the plot of the play as a whole (a sultan is driven to murder a noble friend through jealousy over a woman). Hieronimo is in charge of the entertainment for the marriage ceremony. also acts in the play. Diplomatic negotiations then begin between the Portuguese ambassador and the Spanish King. He puts up a play to be performed at the wedding. which they successfully do with the help of Pedringano and of Balthazar's servant Serberine.

After the play is over. and that Lorenzo. making Hieronimo a sort of proto-tragic protagonist in English literature. and Bel-Imperia are now all dead. she is a very unfortunate young woman: she falls in love with both Andrea and Horatio shortly before they die. Hieronimo’s grief is not relieved. In order to keep himself from talking. who effectively adopts the tactics of the murderer Lorenzo against Lorenzo himself. The main feminine character in the play. And he resolves the final questions taking the decision of seeking revenge in a Machiavellian. and Isabella) to happy eternities. Tricking the Duke into giving him a knife. Bel-Imperia. Revenge and Andrea have the final words in the play. she also has the misfortune to have an evil brother in Lorenzo and to be the object of Balthazar’s affection. • Bel-Imperia. before killing herself. in the first Act. the avenger. only death and silence manages to do this. he then stabs the Duke and himself and then dies. bloody revenge. He equates the two frequently. the Viceroy and the Duke of Castile stop him. His character then develops over a series of soliloquies. when Hieronimo presents a masque to entertain the court. Nevertheless. the Duke English Renaissance Literature 35 . Horatio. we may see Hieronimo’s revenge less as a violent. Not even an important character until the murder of his son Horatio. Sympathizing with someone who reveals himself to be both deceitful and bloodthirsty is difficult. indeed. but the King. evil act than as a creative way to find justice in an unjust society. This is a radical shift for Hieronimo. deceitful manner. Balthazar. justice and revenge. In direct connection with that early moment in the play. But Kyd does sow the seeds of Hieronimo’s conversion from the very beginning. Hieronimo reveals to the horrified wedding guests (while standing over the corpse of his own son) that all the stabbings in the play were done with real knives. may raise problems for both an Elizabethan and a modern audience. Hieronimo is suddenly thrust into the centre of the action. Hieronimo’s conversion to Machiavellianism and his violent. whether to leave revenge to God once his legal means are exhausted. the play seems to support his equation with its various calls for revenge and retribution. she is then forced by both her father. he seems to face a number of problems when it comes to revenge and this gives him the psychological complexity and verisimilitude typically associated with the tragic protagonist. He then tries to kill himself. Andrea assigns each of the play's "good" characters (Hieronimo. links thus two of the play’s key themes. And though his revenge is successful. Hieronimo's character stabs Lorenzo's character and Bel-Imperia's character stabs Balthazar's character. when Balthazar is the very man who murdered her beloved Andrea and then went on to murder her beloved Horatio. he bites out his own tongue. The rest of the characters are assigned to the various tortures and punishments of Hell. how to reconcile his duties as a judge with his inability to find justice for his son. Hieronimo. During the performance.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century role of the hired murderer. wrestling with several key questions: whether to end his misery by suicide instead of waiting to seek revenge. Main characters: • Hieronimo: Torn apart between his violent urges of a grieving father whose son was brutally murdered and his responsibility as the Knight-Marshal. where to seek revenge against murderers with far more influence over the king than he. the top judge for any legal matters concerning the Spanish king or his estate. and—having decided to seek his revenge—how to do it in the face of enemies who could easily destroy him with their vastly greater influence and power at court. and.

she does not appear as a weak woman: she displays her rhetorical ability in stichomythia (line-by-line exchanges) between her. an interiority. It is in the light of this link between revenge and justice that Hieronimo decides to revenge Horatio’s death himself and that he interprets Bel-Imperia’s offer of help as a sign that Heaven favours his decision. sayeth the Lord. too cold. “Vengeance is mine.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century of Castille. the official Elizabethan attitude towards revenge is epitomised by Hieronimo’s quote from the Bible in Act III. too focused on revenge (pushing Hieronimo forward when he appears too lazy to pursue the revenge). We also have evidence that she has the necessary strength of will to act on her desires and motivations. but that is somewhat explainable in the case of a woman who has suffered so much. (E. using that protagonist's inherent moral weakness. Barabas in Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta) This character exploited the popular disapproval of the early sixteenth-century Italian political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli. which are doubts he expresses after the murder of his son and the apparent escape of his murderers. In the morality plays. And like the Vice figure. the clearest example of this may be her participation in Hieronimo's revenge playlet. So Lorenzo is weak in the same way those he manipulates are weak. Kyd uses dramatic irony throughout the play to drive a wedge between the world as his main characters see it and the 36 English Renaissance Literature . playing on their moral weakness as well as their lack of knowledge. the King of Spain—the two most powerful men in the country—to wed this very same Balthazar. The Vice figure would use verbal cleverness to lead a protagonist into sin. His act would thus be a service to God and not an usurpation of God’s role. She may indeed appear too calculating. I will repay. and motivations. • Appearance versus Reality. but it still needs to be performed. Soliman and Perseda. Richard III of Gloucester in Shakespeare’s Richard III. This character also drew heavily on the traditional Vice figure in English literature. which derived its power from God). This ironic fact is proven by Hieronimo when he lures Lorenzo into the playlet. and her uncle. the man chosen by God to revenge Horatio’s death. whose The Prince portrayed a picture of a political ruler who used manipulation over persuasion and fear over love to ensure the loyalty of his subjects. Despite her misfortune. the foil was usually a virtuous old man. As previously stated. Themes and motifs • Revenge and Justice. Hieronimo may here consider himself the agent of the divine vengeance that a just God must bring against his son’s murderers. Balthazar. the honest and virtuous Horatio acts as a foil. Lorenzo is an example of the Machiavellian villain. Similarly.” That implies that Revenge should be performed by God (or the State. and he is as easily manipulated as those he manipulates. whereas Vice is supernatural (much like Revenge in this play). • Lorenzo. In this tragedy.e. typical of many Elizabethan tragedies and dramas. desires. with very strong opinions. i. during which we have access to a mind. This is the presupposition that underlies Hieronimo’s doubts whether the Heavens (and God) are in fact just. Lorenzo has a foil. Lorenzo uses his verbal cleverness to lead the people around him to injustice. manipulating the young nobleman's love of theatre and erroneous belief that Hieronimo bears him no hard feelings. But a key difference between the Machiavellian villain and the Vice figure is that the villain is human. Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello. and Lorenzo and she also has several soliloquies.g.

by the knowledge that they act in error. use of violence and fear. But. We are separated from the actions of the characters.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century world as it actually is. the just Hieronimo ends up committing an act of injustice in the hanging of Pedringano. Such ironies pervade the play and help create the double perspective in which we view the action. The Machiavellian villain. Hieronimo. This madness places the sane and happy. applied the philosopher’s principles to private life. madness is rather paradoxical in the sense that it is a kind of “sane” madness—madness in the face of a world that has itself gone insane and to which madness is the only possible response. In other words. a more fundamental and general limitation on human knowledge. while Lorenzo is typically dishonourable. In Elizabethan England. duplicity. such as the King. in which the meaning and intentions of their actions often slip away. Horatio is honourable. 37 • • • English Renaissance Literature . Kyd loves opposites: Lorenzo is unequivocally unjust. not knowing that Hieronimo intends not only his character to die. while Hieronimo is unequivocally just. At the end of the play. Machiavellism. Ironically. he maintained (reasonably) that such rulers could not be bound by conventional morality. It becomes manifest in two distinct characters in the play: Hieronimo’s turns to outward destruction and leads to bloody revenge. but for him to die as well. Hieronimo needs to be a villain in order to be a hero and avenge his son. and Lorenzo plays Hieronimo’s part of the innocent dupe. the characters’ inability to get past appearances is typical of all human beings’ inability to penetrate appearances. and the commission of justice can often turn into a commission of injustice (for example. Hieronimo adopts Lorenzo’s Machiavellianism. however. it is the sane and happy who are truly disconnected from reality. especially Hieronimo. Antithesis and Irony. perhaps the most concrete and dramatic example of this wedge is Pedringano’s belief that a pardon is contained inside the box Lorenzo has sent him. is forced to adopt Machiavellian tactics in order to avenge his son. in an ironic position. the play’s protagonist. in both cases. Lorenzo enthusiastically agrees to play his part in Hieronimo’s tragedy. but we also empathize with them because of the uncertain situations in which they are forced to act. These resolutions and exchanges are ironic. madness appears as a manifestation of the desire to escape from a horrible reality. Machiavelli’s philosophy was actually intended for the rulers of cities. Yet. in the case of the hanging of Pedringano). especially if we understand “madness” as a disconnected state from reality. Machiavelli’s name was synonymous with evil. Anyway. Isabella’s results in inward destruction and eventually in suicide. Bel-Imperia’s desire to revenge herself on Balthazar by causing him pain ends up causing her intense grief. in the view of many critics. This love for opposition expresses itself in the frequent occurrence of the rhetorical device of antithesis. Because of Lorenzo’s plot. because they show how both meanings and intentions are ambiguous and easily reversed: Bel-Imperia’s love is both war and peace. In the world of the play. unable to even see the pervasive evil that surrounds them. many of the initially antithetical characters at times seem very similar to each other. The box then comes to symbolize. Madness. where the opposition of two ideas is expressed in one sentence or in a parallel structure of sentences. Both rhetorically and in terms of characterization. To give a significant example. Furthermore.

Marlowe wrote for the stage the following plays: . after Elizabeth I’s Privy Council intervened. wherefrom. that he could get his M. On the other hand. the young Christopher continued his studies at the Corpus Christi College in Cambridge. he moved to London where he became a playwright and led a turbulent. Chapman’s Busy d’Ambois. having gained a scholarship.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century Meta-Theatre. Queen of Carthage and perhaps even outlined the first part of Tamburlaine the Great. Yet. After his death. but we exist in a position almost exactly identical to Andrea and Revenge. the play starts with a character within the play who watches the play’s main events and is as isolated from them as we are: Don Andrea. presenting a son’s delayed revenge for a murdered father (which Shakespeare presumably used as a source of inspiration for his Hamlet) and inaugurates the type of revenge tragedy to be followed by: Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus. Two aspects must be referred to in this respect. 2. or Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi. Thomas Kyd’s tragedy about a father’s delayed revenge for his murdered son apparently finds its counterpart in the currently lost Ur-Hamlet.A. While still in Cambridge. Little evidence to support these allegations has come to light. in 1593. Revenge. which many of his contemporaries (including Shakespeare) later adopted. all of which were immensely popular. Marlowe wrote his first play Dido. During his years at the university.) After having settled in London. Even at this stage. many people believed he had fled to France in order to study at a Catholic university.Tamburlaine the Great. Though only a shoemaker. After leaving Cambridge.A. scandal-plagued life. Marston’s Antonio’s Revenge. On May 30. they do not). He produced seven plays. Julius Caesar and Hamlet. working with Lord Admiral’s Men. shortly after his being released. The existence of this meta-theatre serves to make the relationship between the play-world and the real world ambiguous: we are still separated from the characters by a radical divide (we exist. Marlowe wrote short plays and literary works that suggested an early interest in drama. it was only in 1587. 38 English Renaissance Literature • . brought before the Court of the Star Chamber and then put on a sort of probation. degree. atheism. in 1584. rumours were spread accusing him of treason. Marlowe was courting controversy as a result of his long absences from college. On the one hand. Accused of maintaining beliefs contrary to those of the approved religion. Christopher Marlowe was born in Canterbury in 1564 (the same year of birth as Shakespeare’s). Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) Life. he got involved in a tavern fight and was stabbed to death. Richard III. who—while separated from the play—seems to be affecting it in spirit and to have knowledge of what is to come. his father supported him financially to attend the King’s School in Canterbury. as well as a poet (chief among his lyrical productions. this ambiguity is played further upon and heightened by Hieronimo’s revenge play-within-the-play in Act IV. 2. parts 1 and 2 (about 1587). There is also another character. and homosexuality. however. Works. and some people speculated that the tavern brawl might have been the work of government agents. he was arrested. in which he pioneered the use of blank verse. 1593. Marlowe also turned out an excellent translator in verse of Ovid’s Amores and of the first book of Lucan’s Pharsalia. 2. his career was cut short. the more original poem Hero and Leander could be mentioned. Although he was awarded his B.

Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century - The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (about 1588/ 1592); - The Jew of Malta (1589-1591); - Edward II (about 1592); - The Massacre at Paris (1593). Each of Marlowe’s plays is, in a sense, a tour de force, a special creation (despite the fact that some of the plays like The Jew of Malta, Dido and The Massacre at Paris are not, according to some scholars, as well written as the others). Marlowe’s first and most important service to drama was the improvement of blank verse. Robert Greene had condemned its use as being unscholarly; Sackville and Norton had used it, but were not able to lift it above commonplace, confining it to isolated lines, all made after one rhythmical pattern, with the same number of feet and the cæsura always in place, following one another, with no grouping according to thought. Marlowe invented numberless variations while still keeping the satisfying rhythm within a recurring pattern. Sometimes he left a redundant syllable, or left the line one syllable short, or moved the position of the cæsura. He grouped his lines according to the thought and adapted his various rhythms to the ideas. Thus blank verse became a living organism, plastic, brilliant, and finished. Marlowe’s second best gift to drama was his conception of the heroic tragedy built on a grand scale, with the three-fold unity of character, impression, and interest, instead of the artificial unities of time and place. Before his time, tragedies were built either according to the loose style of the chronicle, or within the mechanical framework of the Senecan model; but, in either case, the dramatic unity attained by the Greeks was lacking. Marlowe, with his disregard of the so-called classic rules, was in fact much nearer the spirit of Aeschylus and Sophocles than the slavish followers of the pseudoclassic schools. (And so was William Shakespeare too.) Coming to London obsessed with fantastic aspirations, Marlowe painted gigantic ambitions, desires for impossible things, longings for a beauty beyond earthly conception, and sovereigns destroyed by the very powers which had raised them to their thrones. Tamburlaine, Faust, Barabas are personifications of arrogance and insatiable ambition, lust for power and wealth. Despite the touch of the extravagant or bombastic, or even of the puerile that sometimes characterise his plays, and his inability to portray women (none of his plays deals with love as the main subject), or the fact that his world is not altogether our world, but a remote field of the imagination, his plays managed to impose a standard upon all succeeding theatrical compositions and to pave thus the way for the rise of the greatest drama of English history. Marlowe’s ‘trilogy’ focused on the rise and fall of powerful men starts with a story of violence and cruelty in which Tamburlaine, turned from a mere Scythian shepherd into a bloody tyrant whom not even Zenocrate’s love can touch, creates an empire, but dies an inglorious death after having arrogantly defied Mahomed himself. Influences of Tamburlaine the Great may be identified in Shakespeare’s Richard III, a play which displays similar concentration on the unity of character. Richard, like Tamburlaine, seeks exceptional power and is deterred by no moral or religious scruples from attaining his ends. In creating Tamburlaine, Marlowe innovated the old pattern of the stage hero and created “the prototype of the Renaissance egoist, the audacious villain, a figure as enthralling as Milton’s Satan.” (Day in Gavriliu, 2000: 105-6) Another story of racial conflict and revenge comes to complete the range of consequences of the thirst for power: The Jew of Malta resonates English Renaissance Literature 39

Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century with themes of racial tension, religious conflict, and political intrigue, all of which share parallels with sixteenth-century England. Although the play is grounded on a real historical event (the 1565 Turkish invasion of Malta), its characterization appeals to a general sense of fear that many English Protestants felt toward those whom they considered outsiders—be these Muslims, Jews (though there were no professed Jews in England during this time, they had been banished in 1290 and would be readmitted in 1656 only as converts to Christianity), or Catholics. With Barabas’s sly allusions to biblical stories and his ironic treatment of Christian doctrine, one sees how Marlowe raises questions about state religion that would have had deeper significance in a country fraught by its own religious tensions. At the same time, the play captures anti-Machiavellian feeling that was rife in Elizabethan England. Barabas’s schemes share much with Machiavellian self-advancement and the play elicits a deeply ambivalent response from the audience: one may admire Barabas for his clever duplicity but at the same time, resent him for his unfeeling manipulation of human beings. In many respects, Marlowe is similar to his protagonist in that the playwright was also decried as a Machiavellian schemer with little loyalty towards his country. It is for readers to determine whether The Jew of Malta is Marlowe’s attempt at discrediting Machiavelli, or whether the playwright is satirizing Elizabethan England’s stereotyped view of this author. If Shakespeare wrote his Merchant of Venice to compete with Marlowe’s Jew of Malta, the similarities between the two plays are less significant upon thorough analysis. Unlike Barabas who is a paragon of hatred and selfishness from the outset, Shylock’s hatred develops before our eyes and we feel sympathy for him that is never granted to Barabas. Still, Marlowe could not ignore that power goes hand in hand not only with terror or fortune but also with knowledge. That is precisely what The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus demonstrates. Case Study: The Tragicall History of Doctor Faustus (later on published as The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus) (c. 1588/ 1592) The text of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus has come down to us in a corrupt form with comic fits and grotesque prose passages, which, according to some literary historians, belonged to various menders. Yet modern scholarship has established that they were intentionally introduced by Marlowe himself for ironic purposes. The idea of an individual selling his or her soul to the devil for knowledge is an old motif in Christian folklore, one that had become attached to the historical persona of Johannes Faustus, a disreputable astrologer who lived in Germany sometime in the early 1500s. The immediate source of Marlowe’s play seems to be an anonymous German work from the Volksbuch entitled Historia von D. Iohan Fausten of 1587, which was translated into English in 1592 as The History of the Damnable Life and Death of Dr. John Faustus, and from which Marlowe lifted the bulk of the plot for his drama. Although there had been literary representations of Faust prior to Marlowe’s play, Doctor Faustus is the first famous version of the story. Later versions include the long and famous poem Faust by the nineteenth-century Romantic writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, as well as operas by Charles Gounod and Arrigo Boito and a symphony by Hector Berlioz. Meanwhile, the phrase 40 English Renaissance Literature

Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century “Faustian bargain” has entered the English lexicon, referring to any deal made for a short-term gain with great costs in the long run. A Doctor of Divinity at the University of Wittenberg, John Faustus makes a pact with Mephistopheles to surrender his soul to Lucifer in exchange for twenty-four years of absolute knowledge and experience. Endowed with superhuman powers, Faustus performs incredible deeds like calling up Alexander the Great and Helen of Troy, but also indulges in petty tricks to entertain different royal or aristocratic figures throughout Europe. As the hour for the surrender of his soul draws near, Faustus is seized with repentance, but it is too late for him to be saved: when the clock strikes twelve, his soul is borne to Hell by the devils. Main Characters • Faustus is the protagonist and tragic hero of Marlowe’s play. He is a contradictory character, capable of tremendous eloquence and possessing awesome ambition, yet prone to a strange, almost wilful blindness and a willingness to waste powers that he has gained at great cost. At the beginning of the play, Faustus’s main feature seems to be his grandeur as he contemplates all the marvels that his magical powers will produce, as he imagines piling up wealth from the four corners of the globe, reshaping the map of Europe (both politically and physically), and gaining access to every scrap of knowledge about the universe. He is an arrogant, selfaggrandizing man, but his ambitions are so grand that we cannot help being impressed, and we even feel sympathetic toward him. He represents the spirit of the Renaissance, with its rejection of the medieval, God-centred universe, and its embrace of human possibility. Faustus, at least early on in his acquisition of magic, is the personification of possibility. Yet, as the scenes of his bargaining with Mephistopheles show it, he also possesses certain obtuseness. Having decided that a pact with the devil is the only way to fulfil his ambitions, Faustus then blinds himself happily to what such a pact actually means. Sometimes he tells himself that hell is not so bad and that one needs only “fortitude”; at other times, he remarks that he does not actually believe hell exists. Meanwhile, despite his lack of concern about the prospect of eternal damnation, Faustus is also beset with doubts from the beginning, setting a pattern for the play in which he repeatedly approaches repentance only to pull back at the last moment. Why he fails to repent is unclear: sometimes it seems a matter of pride and continuing ambition, sometimes a conviction that God will not hear his plea. Other times, it seems that Mephistopheles simply bullies him away from repenting. After having appeared as a grandly tragic figure of sweeping visions and immense ambitions at the beginning of the play, Faustus actually reveals in the middle scenes his petty nature. Once he gained his long-desired powers, he does not seem to know what to do with them or to want to do anything with them and he travels around Europe using his incredible gifts to play tricks to impress various heads of state, in other words, for trifling entertainment. He is entirely swallowed up in mediocrity. Only in the final scene, the knowledge of his impending doom restores his earlier gift of powerful rhetoric and he regains his sweeping sense of vision. Marlowe uses much of his finest poetry to describe Faustus’s final hours, during which Faustus’s desire for repentance finally wins out, although too late. Still, Faustus is restored to his earlier grandeur in his closing speech, with its hurried rush from idea to idea and its despairing, Renaissance-renouncing English Renaissance Literature 41

urged on by the good angel on his shoulder or by the old man in scene 12— both of whom can be seen either as emissaries of God. Christian cosmology’s prince of devils. he cries out to Christ to redeem him. Redemption and Damnation. from his first appearance he clearly intends to act as an agent of Faustus’s damnation: he witnesses Faustus’s pact with Lucifer and. In creating his Mephistopheles. real and terrible. personifications of Faustus’s conscience. Themes and Motifs • Sin. which includes figures like John Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost and Johann von Goethe’s Mephistopheles in the nineteenth-century poem Faust. he prevents Faustus from repenting. Mephistopheles insists that hell is. • The Conflict between Medieval and Renaissance Values. for they are two overly proud spirits doomed to hell. throughout the play. even the worst deed can be forgiven through the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. Faustus spends his final moments in a slightly different universe. of course. a great man undone because his ambitions have butted up against the law of God. When Faustus claims he does not believe in hell. Faustus’s story is a tragedy in Christian terms. Having inhabited a Christian world for the entire play. God’s son. Before the pact is sealed. as the judge of the world. which makes him and Mephistopheles kindred spirits. • Mephistopheles is one of the first in a long tradition of sympathetic literary devils. indeed. Doctor Faustus contains elements of Christian morality. there is an odd ambivalence in him. but he consciously and even eagerly renounces obedience to him. choosing instead to swear allegiance to Lucifer. according to Christian belief. Faustus’s principal sin is his great pride and ambition. which condemns him. either by flattery or by threats. But it is too late for him to repent. where redemption is no longer possible and where certain sins cannot be forgiven. in a Christian framework. which can be contrasted with the Christian virtue of humility: not only does he disobey God. is ask God for forgiveness. It is appropriate that these two figures dominate Marlowe’s play. and every soul goes either to hell or to heaven. with the devils tempting people into sin and the angels urging them to remain true to God. Mephistopheles actually warns Faustus against making the deal with Lucifer. On the one hand.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century last line. Faustus does so anyway. because he gives in to temptation and is damned to hell. or both. All that he needs to do. Each time. however terrible Faustus’s pact with Lucifer may be. There are devils and angels. In creating this moment in which Faustus is still alive but incapable of being redeemed. On the other hand. It takes place in an explicitly Christian cosmos: God sits on high. who. as Faustus comes to know soon enough. but he himself is damned and speaks freely of the horrors of hell. died on the cross for humankind’s sins. Faustus decides to remain loyal to hell rather than seek heaven. and. The play offers countless moments in which Faustus considers doing just that. Marlowe steps outside the Christian worldview in order to maximize the dramatic power of the final scene. Thus. But. the possibility of redemption is always open to him. according to the Christian canon. theoretically. The medieval world placed God at the centre of existence and shunted aside man and the 42 English Renaissance Literature . Marlowe combined different motives. in the final scene. Only at the end of his life does Faustus desire to repent. But. “I’ll burn my books!” He becomes once again a tragic hero. one can almost sense that part of Mephistopheles does not want Faustus to make the same mistakes that he made. In an odd way. He seeks to damn Faustus. to an eternity in hell.

In the medieval academy. • Power as a Corrupting Influence. He imagines piling up great wealth. it seems) lusts after the power that Mephistopheles promises. a sense that is reinforced by the eloquence of his early soliloquies. explicitly rejects the medieval model. wealth. In his opening speech in scene 1. The Renaissance. however. though not entirely admirable. It is not that power has corrupted Faustus by making him evil. to accept no limits. Yet Marlowe himself was no pious traditionalist. Galen on medicine. Faustus is condemned to mediocrity. modern spirit. theology was the queen of the sciences. but he also aspires to examine the mysteries of the universe and to remake the map of Europe. In the Christian framework of the play. In the medieval model. and on scientific inquiry into the nature of the world. despite being a magician rather than a scientist (a blurred distinction in the sixteenth century). Marlowe seems hostile toward the ambitions of Faustus and keeps his tragic hero squarely in the medieval world. but his successors will go further than he and suffer less. instead of the grand designs that he contemplates early on. and the limits that these imposed on humanity. or authorities in his quest for knowledge. secular matters took centre stage. plans lend grandeur to Faustus and make his quest for personal power seem almost heroic. His internal struggle goes on throughout the play. but he does not know what to do with it. and the Bible on religion. both of whom appear at Faustus’s shoulder in English Renaissance Literature 43 . where eternal damnation is the price of human pride. law. not individual inquiry. quoting an ancient authority for each: Aristotle on logic. and power. as he descends from grand ambitions to petty conjuring tricks. before he agrees to the pact with Lucifer. were the key. But in this soliloquy.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century natural world. on classical learning. Faustus considers and rejects this medieval way of thinking. The good angel and the evil angel. he goes through every field of scholarship. By cutting himself off from the creator of the universe. the disappointment and mediocrity that follow Faustus’s pact with the devil. and it is tempting to see in Faustus—as many readers have—a hero of the new modern world. • The Divided Nature of Man. traditions. He has gained the whole world. beginning with logic and proceeding through medicine. but more than that. though. a world free of God. as part of him of wants to do good and serve God. Faustus may pay a medieval price. Faustus. All these impressive. On the other hand. one can argue that true greatness can be achieved only with God’s blessing. though ambitious and glittering. He is indeed wicked. he becomes mediocre and transforms his boundless ambition into a meaningless delight in petty celebrity. might suggest a contrasting interpretation. Faustus is constantly undecided about whether he should repent and return to God or continue to follow his pact with Lucifer. his horizons seem to narrow and. The play’s attitude toward the clash between medieval and Renaissance values is ambiguous. as we have in modern times. laid a new emphasis on the individual. in full Renaissance spirit. tradition and authority. In the Renaissance. religion. But once Faustus actually gains the practically limitless power that he so desires. He resolves. the Byzantine emperor Justinian on law. Early in the play. Faustus is full of ideas for how to use the power that he seeks. he contents himself with performing conjuring tricks for kings and noblemen and takes a strange delight in using his magic to play practical jokes on simple folks. Marlowe may be suggesting that the new. on the contrary. but part of him (the dominant part. and theology. will lead only to a Faustian dead end.

While these angels may be intended as an actual pair of supernatural beings. 44 English Renaissance Literature . are unable to maintain order in the kingdom. completed by George Chapman. acquires conversational ease. considered. a model of how. scholarly dialogue. Kyd introduced the tragic pathos and sombre atmosphere. Doctor Faustus features the gigantic passion for the power that is brought by knowledge. Look at the picture below representing The Swan Theatre in Elizabethan London. Define the following terms and use them in sentences of your own: dumb-show metatheatre tiring house jig avenger discovery space milles gloriosus Frons Scenas Marlowe’s mighty line revenge tragedy Machiavellian villain 2. . which compels Faustus to commit to Mephistopheles but also to question this commitment continually. Johannes de Witt. nevertheless. If in Tamburlaine the Great Marlowe depicted the gigantic passion for political power. history could be moulded to fit the plot form of drama. as seen in c. a chronicle play derived from Holinshed. writing in c.Hero and Leander (1598) – about 800 lines of heroic couplets of remarkable sensuality and musicality. 2. But for the joined efforts of the Renaissance playwrights the magnificence of Hamlet or Lear would not have been possible. 1596 by the Dutch traveller. Finally. 1592 The Troublesome Reign and Lamentable Death of Edward II. so fit to the superhuman characters of the previous plays. according to Marlowe. 3. Marlowe took interest in the most recent ‘invention’ of Elizabethan drama.The Passionate Shepherd to His Love (1588) – a short love lyric suffused with genuine feelings set forth in a simple language which occasioned Walter Ralegh’s response in The Nymph’s Reply. they clearly represent Faustus’s divided will. because of personal weaknesses. Marlowe taught him the heroes’ titanic nature and the lyrical effects of the blank verse.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century order to urge him in different directions. the brilliant generation of the University Wits paved the way for Shakespeare’s genius. but it seems that the latter had. Each of them influenced the Shakespearean universe more or less: John Lyly supplied Shakespeare the sparkling. Greene provided the romantic framework and the gentle. speech being suited to the person speaking. Examination Tests. for a long time. a important influence on the former’s Richard II: both plays concern kings who. Practical Applications. Recent scholarship has suggested that Shakespeare wrote his Henry VI trilogy before Marlowe could complete his Edward II. All in all. symbolize this struggle. The play displays Marlowe’s concern with order and marks a change in his style in the sense that his “mighty line”. Christopher Marlowe was also a remarkable lyric poet: . 1. Identify its main components and explain their function in the theatrical performance. delicate feminine characters.

Secular drama emerged in the sixteenth century developing out of a. c. romantic comedy. b. Balthazar. mysteries. . c.The original creation of the English Renaissance dramatists is represented by a. . Machiavellism. Revenge.Lyly’s famous writing style is known as a. HIERONIMO: Chitesc prin toate borţile din ziduri.The novelty of the play Gammer Gurton’s Needle lies to some extent in the realistic picture of a. Euphuism. . 4. fairies. . c. Nicholas Udall.The ancestor of Shakespeare’s Sir John Falstaff was a.The most influential classical comedies that the earliest English playwrights imitated were written by a. b.Robert Greene is the founder of a. Plautus.The first writer of an English secular play was a. b. c. Lorenzo. Bel-Imperia. b. Choose the right word to complete the sentence: . .The agent of Faustus’s damnation is a. Mă uit prin toţi copacii. William Shakespeare. b. moralities. c. c. c. Petrarchism.The avenger in Thomas Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy is a. knowledge. the dumb-show. comedy of manners. . Lorenzo. violence. c. Merrygreek. c. c. b. c. Fulgens and Lucrece. Hodge. the chronicle play. . the Italian town. blank verse. Look on each tree and search through every brake. c.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century 3. Seneca.Dr. Ralph Roister. Ralph Roister Doister. the English court. c. money. the English village. b. . b. răscolesc English Renaissance Literature 45 . Gorboduc. b.An important innovation in Gorboduc is the use of a. witches. b. . . Mephistopheles. Hieronimo. The Spanish Tragedy (Act III. ghosts. comedy of humours. Horatio. c. interludes.The Machiavellian villain in The Spanish Tragedy is a. Henry Medwall. c. bloody plots. Ovid. b. Faustus fulfills his dream of absolute power owing to a. b. b. Satan. the comedy. . . b.One of the distinct features of the Senecan tragedy was the presence of a.The love triangle theme first appeared in the play a. b. . . Scene 12) HIERONIMO: I pry through every crevice of each wall. Aristotelian types. Comment on the following excerpts so as to illustrate the most important features of Thomas Kyd’s and Christopher Marlowe’s dramatic art: Thomas Kyd.

Şi s-a-nălţat voinic şi a rodit.. very merry. Chiar lângă pomul unde s-a sfârşit. nu-i spuneţi ce: să plângă-n voie. HIERONIMO: Let it be burnt. and did bear our sonne.] [The clock strikes eleven. come in a-doors. Dr. Alack. and this the very tree. Alei. and bore. But that the infant and the human sap Began to wither. Buşesc bătrâna glie cu piciorul. Nu plâng. De două ori în fiecare zi Îl răcoream cu apă din fântână.. veştejind Şi tânărul vlăstar şi seva lui. şi că el e Jacques. And yonder pale-faced Hecate there. Vă înşelaţi! Doar nu eram nebun Să poruncesc făclii în miez de noapte! Aprindeţi-le în amiaza mare Când zeul-soare străluceşte-n slăvi. and grew. HIERONIMO: De ce-aţi ieşit cu faclele în beznă? PEDRO: Aşa ne-ai poruncit chiar tu. I-l ştiu.] ISABELLA: Dear Hieronimo. seek not means so to increase thy sorrow. nu eu. O. And all those Stars that gaze upon her face Are aeglets on her sleeve. Was I so mad to bid you light your torches now? Light me your torches at the mid of noon. Isabella. Isabella. întreabă-i: Pedro. where he was murdered? HIERONIMO: Was -. O. pins on her train. PEDRO: Stăpâne bun. Atunci le-aprindeţi. stamp our grandam earth. thou liest. 46 English Renaissance Literature . eu l-am semănat. Nu mai căta să-ţi înteţeşti durerea.. you know not what.. Un ceas îţi mai rămâne de trăit. nu-s nebun! Ştiu că eşti Pedro.had the murderer seen him. dorm în beznă. Til at length It grew a gallows.. Faustus (Act V) [Orologiul bate ora unsprezece. I do know -. you are deceived -. and ask Jaques. indeed. Cum aş putea? Ea unde-a fost în noaptea Când l-au ucis pe fiul meu cel drag? De ce n-a luminat? Citeşte-n carte. Iar stelele care-i contemplă chipul Sunt fluturi pe-ai ei mâneci. Had he been framed of naught but blood and death. stăpâne. when they most should shine. Faustus. HIERONIMO: Să ardă. nu le stârni mânia: Milos e cerul. Ce să-i mai spunem răului? (Intră ISABELLA. Where my Horatio died. That I know -. and thou dost nought But tell me I am mad: Thou liest. who's there? Spirits. spirits? PEDRO: We are your servants that attend you. Doth give consent to that is done in darkness.. Now hast thou but one bare hour to live. HIERONIMO: Minţi. Şi-ntr-un târziu Spânzurătoare s-a făcut. You bid us light them. when mischief doth it knows not what. Had the moon shone in my boy's face there was a kind of grace. Nu vrea să-şi dea trădările-n vileag: Şi-această palidă Hecată. fair sir. no. HIERONIMO: Dar n-am făcut nimica. wicked plant. Oh. de-l vedea şi ucigaşul – Să nu fi fost tâlharul plămâdit Decât din cheag de sânge şi din crimă – Şi tot ar fi scăpat cuţitul jos. purtându-l Pe fiul nostru. be merry here? Is not this the place. rodul tău şi-al meu. sunteţi veseli chiar aici. night is a murderous slut That would not have her treasons to be seen. de-aş fi nebun. Jacques. iată. and bore. pom păcătoşit. Băiatul meu avea pe chip un farmec. And sorrow makes you speak. His weapon would have fall'n and cut the earth. marea ta durere Te face să-ndrugi vorbe fărăr şir. and attend you here. ticăloase! Asta ştii să faci: Îmi spui că sunt nebun: minţi. vai.. Apoi te-aşteaptă veşnica osândă! And then thou must be damned perpetually.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century Beat at the bushes. Acesta-i pomul. Eu i-am sădit sămânţa în pământ. we do nothing here. vă înşelaţi! Nu eu. I'll prove it to thee. Mărăcinişurile. This was the tree.nay.) ISABELLA: Vin’.. I do not cry: ask Pedro. noaptea-i târfă ucigaşă. O. în casă. cine e pe-acolo? Duhuri? Duhuri? PEDRO: Noi suntem slujitorii tăi. I am not mad! I know thee to be Pedro.. Hieronimo. . când răul nu mai ştie seama.. Voi dovedi ce spun.do not say what: let her weep it out.] Faustus: Faustus Ah. At last it grew. I set it of a kernel: And when our hot Spain could not let it grow. how could I? Where was she that same night when my Horatio Was murdered? She should have shone: Search thou the book. Yet cannot I behold my son Horatio. Unde-a murit ucis Horaţio-al meu? HIERONIMO: Era . What shall we say to mischief? [Enter Isabella. duly twice a morning Would I be sprinkling it with fountain-water.. Faust. Hei. . we are very merry.. sir. HIERONIMO: What make you with your torches in the dark? PEDRO. bat în tufe. Ea e codoaşa faptelor din bezne. and were I mad. Dive in the water and stare up to heaven: .. PEDRO: Then we burn daylight. O. ISABELLA: Cum? Veseli.not I -you are deceived. Să dea lumină. It bore thy fruit and mine: oh wicked. HIERONIMO: Nu. HIERONIMO: No. aşa-i? Zău nu.. păcătoşit! Christopher Marlowe. And those that should be powerful and divine Do sleep in darkness. luna.. dragul meu. . Not I. with tempting words: The heavens are gracious. HIERONIMO: Villain. M-afund în apă sau măsor tăria. Şi când înfiebântata noastră Spanie Nu l-a lăsat să crească. PEDRO: Am aprinde-amiaza. HIERONIMO: Indeed.. and your miseries . the Moon. . -How now.. şi hurmuzuri Pe trene ei. Whenas the sun-god rides in all his glory: Light me your torches then. PEDRO: Provoke them not. Dar nu-l găsesc pe fiul meu Horaţio.. and he Jaques. stăpâne. ISABELLA: How? Be merry here. ba suntem veseli. foarte veseli. cei ce s-ar cădea Să fie-atotputernici şi cereşti. nu. de-ar fi fost lumină-n noaptea-aceea.

ceasule. cine E cel care mă trage-n jos? Priviţi! De sângele lui Crist e plină bolta..] O mercy. curse thyself. and fall on me. prefă-te-n aer. vremea fuge. and enter the devils. iată Domnul Şi-ntinde braţul şi tăcut se-ncruntă! Vă prăvăliţi asupră-mi. who pulls me down? One drop of blood will save me. Cursed be the parents that engendered me. A hundred thousand. earth! O no. Ca vremea să stea-n loc şi miezul nopţii Să nu mai bată.] O. Curse Lucifer That hath deprived thee of the joys of heaven.. O lente lente currite noctis equi. şi satana Ce de cerescul har te-a văduvit! [Orologiul bate miezul nopţii. Where is it now? 'Tis gone. All beasts are happy.. Isuse! Nu mă zdrobi. and save his soul. -ntr-un an. and ascend to heaven. te cască! Nu mă vrea. Din pricina chemării ce i-o fac! Eu am să-l strig mereu. Ca-n clipa când mă veţi zvârli-ndărăt. în stropi mărunţi Şi-n mări te spulberă: să-ţi piară urma! [Intră diavolii. Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years.. And fall into the ocean ne'er be found. nu te căsca! Stai. Şi de urgia lui mă tăinuiţi! Nu vreţi? Mă-nghită-atunci genunea fără fund! Pământule. But mine must live still to be plagued in hell. prefă-te. No? Then will I headlong run into the earth. The devil will come. Into the entrails of yon labouring cloud. Când pier. The stars move still. într-o zi. Mountains and hills. Gape.. al cărui sânge A curs şi pentru mine.] Opriţi-vă. and I be changed Into some brutish beast. De ce nu-s o făptură fără suflet? Sau pentru ce-i nemuritor acesta? Pitagoreica metempsihoză De-ar fi adevărată. O.. I'll leap up to heaven. Prin gura lor de fum să-mi iasă trupul. lente currite.. You stars that reigned at my nativity. Faust. And see a threatening arm.] Nu mă privi atât de aspru.] Din ceas a mai rămas doar jumătate! O. O spare me. Or let this hour be but a year. and at last be saved. Or Lucifer will bear thee quick to hell. O soul be changed into small water drops. O. it strikes! Now body turn to air. tu însuţi. My limbs may issue from your smokey mouths. That when you vomit forth into the air. Doamne! Năpârci şi şerpi. luminători cereşti. atunci măcar Sfârşit durerii mele hotărăşte În numele lui Crist. A month. for naming of my Christ. şapte zile. De nu. Yet will I call on him. al meu Trăieşte-n veci ca să-l muncească iadul. you ever-moving spheres of heaven. Ugly hell. [Thunder. Altminteri mergi cu Lucifer în iad! [Tunete şi fulgere. duhul meu Şi-ar căuta sălaş în dobitoace! Ah! Cât le ferices!Suflarea lor. half the hour is past! 'Twill all be past anon.. heaven! Look not so fierce on me. Ca Faust să se potă pocăi! O lente. [The clock strikes twelve] It strikes. lăsaţi-mă să suflu! Iad hâd. the clock will strike. să trăiesc O mie. it will not harbour me.] English Renaissance Literature 47 . a natural day. Fair nature's eye.] E miezul nopţii! Trup. Părinţii mei să fie blestemaţi! Ba nu. Un singur strop m-ar izbăvi.Section 2: English Drama in the Sixteenth Century Stand still. Fii milostiv! Unde-i acum? S-a dus! Ah. and Faustus must be damned. zeci de mii de ani în iad Şi-apoi să-mi aflu tihna. [The watch strikes. gape not. Lucifer. stele ce sclipeaţi atunci când m-am născut Şi mi-aţi ursit pieirea şi gheena. vai. Now draw up Faustus like a foggy mist. Voi. Faustus. Their souls are soon dissolved in elements. Răsari din nou şi-nveşniceşte ziua. and midnight never come. ochi frumos al firii. rise. O lună. Va bate ceasul. Însă. That Faustus may repent. munţi şi dealuri. time runs.] Prefă-te suflete. come. if my soul must suffer for my sin. No. But let my soul mount... That time may cease. dracii vor veni Şi Faust îşi va căpăta osânda! Să mă avânt spre Cel-înalt! Ah. o-nghit stihiile. Mephistophilis! [Exeunt. Impose some end to my incessant pain. noctis equi! Dar stelele se mişcă. puternic Lucifer. Adders and serpents let me breathe awhile. Cei păcătoşi sunt osândiţi pe veci. And hide me from the heavy wrath of heaven. come not Lucifer! I'll burn my books! Oh. rise again and make Perpetual day. No end is limited to damned souls. Doamne! De nu vrei să mă cruţi. a week. Rend not my heart. for when they die. Mă soarbeţi ca pe-o ceaţă şi mă duceţi În pântecele norilor scămoşi. an angry brow. Lucifer! Sunt gata să-mi ard cărţile! Mefisto! [Ies diavolii cu Faust. come. Iar sufletul să urce către cer! [Orologiul bate. Whose influence hath allotted death and hell. This soul should fly from me. Why wert thou not a creature wanting soul? Or why is this immortal that thou hast? Oh Pitagoras' metempsychosis' were that true.


At this dreary task pupils laboured summer and winter from 7 to 11 in the morning and returned at one o’clock to stay until 5 in the afternoon. teaching grammar. has become a popular tourist attraction. The entry is in Latin and reads. the young William may have attended the Stratford Grammar School established by the corporation of the town as early as 1553. therefore.” that is. which accounts for the large number of legends and fabrications surrounding the biography of the English bard and further debates around the question whether Shakespeare was indeed the author of the great works nowadays ascribed to him or not. as well as Latin history. Although we cannot know for certain. He would also have been introduced to rhetoric and some logic through the writings of Cicero (Letters) and Quintilian. Nevertheless. which turns up in As You Like It. The main business of a Grammar School was. the actual date of his birth is unknown. the house John Shakespeare owned on Henley Street is assumed to have been the family home in Stratford. Life and Work (1564-1616) There are few ascertainable facts about Shakespeare’s life. which is. the most admired writer of Latin comedy. which still stands today. and where Shakespeare spent his young life. They had to learn by heart every word of such grammar books as William Lily’s Grammatica Latina.) Up to the crisis of his father’s fortune (about 1577). and the first child to survive past infancy. 1564. The mother. The house. or Vergil (Eclogues). but the first son. The first documentary reference to William Shakespeare is to be found in the parish Register for Stratford-upon-Avon recording William’s baptism on April 26. was a tanner. He would have studied Ovid (Metamorphoses). ranging from Borough Ale-Taster to alderman to bailiff. John Shakespeare. constantly supervised by harsh teachers who would not hesitate to discipline them by mercilessly beating them with a rod. who also held a number of public offices over a twenty year period. as Ben Jonson suggests in the poem dedicated to English Renaissance Literature 49 . “William son of John Shakspere. heralded as the place at which Mary Shakespeare gave birth to William and his siblings.e.” William was the third child of eight born to John and Mary Shakespeare. generally accepted. and he would have read Plautus. The father. 1. “Guiliamus filius Johannes Shakspere.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best 3. i. glove-maker and dealer in agricultural products. Mary Shakespeare – born Mary Arden – was the daughter of a well-to-do landowner in a lesser branch of an aristocratic family from the neighbouring Wilmcote. a prosperous market centre for the county of Warwickshire in the rural heartland of England). Yet. philosophy and perhaps some rudimentary Greek. Knowledge of the custom of baptising children soon after birth makes April 23rd a likely date. Latin grammar. it must have been at the grammar school that William Shakespeare learned to look beyond the mechanics of language to the beauty of literature as well. as its very name indicates it. while the record indicates the date of Shakespeare’s baptism. who remained a great favourite all his life. (The family gave its name to the nearby Forest of Arden. the highest public office in Stratford (by that time.

” Unfortunately. He also seems to have possessed enough knowledge of foreign languages to read French and Italian works in the original. The next official public record on William Shakespeare is a 40 pound marriage bond of sureties posted by two Warwickshire farmers in November 28. and What He Hath Left Us). 50 English Renaissance Literature . that with his tiger’s heart wrapped in a player’s hide. Hamnet. either to become an apprentice in his father’s business or to earn an independent living. Shakespeare’s only son. died at the age of 11 and was buried at Stratford in 1596. Although boys normally attended grammar school until the age of 15 or 16. is in his own conceit the only shake-scene in the country. Presumably he had already achieved quite a reputation as a playwright by 1592 when Robert Greene wrote A Groatsworth of Wit Bought with a Million of Repentance in which he attacked the young actor-playwright in the following terms: “an upstart crow. He may have started by joining one of the five theatrical companies (among them The Earl of Leicester’s Men. 1585. Earl of Southampton.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best William Shakespeare’s memory (“small Latin and less Greek” in Ben Jonson. He may have continued reading by himself the translations of the Latin and Greek classics that abounded in England at that time since he made free use of these books when he came to write. both dedicated to Henry Wriothesley. beautiful with our feathers. a law clerk or a country school teacher? Did he go to one of the larger towns nearby – like Warwick – to further one of these careers? One famous legend has Shakespeare fleeing Stratford for London in 1587. Some of the sonnets may have also been composed during the same period. a soldier. at the age of 13. the period is rife with speculation. He was 18 and she was 26. after being caught poaching deer in the park of the influential Sir Thomas Lucy at Charlcote. Because nothing certain is known of Shakespeare in the years between 1585 and 1592. 1583. the Earl of Worchester’s Men and the Earl of Warwick’s Men) which played in Stratford between 1586 and 1587. Eventually he seems to have been accepted as an actor in the company of the Earl of Leicester. as his name appears in casts of players for Ben Jonson’s dramas. Shakespeare may have been forced to leave school as early as 1577. “sonne and daughter to William Shakspeare.” The closing of the theatres during the 1592-93 plague may have suggested the poet to try his talent on mythological subjects and in 1593 Shakespeare published Venus and Adonis. Was Shakespeare a sailor. The next public record indicates that six months later. But the two years that are generally accepted as Shakespeare’s school training may have been profitable for a man endowed with his genius. To the Memory of My Beloved Master William Shakespeare. There is no record of Shakespeare attending university. supposes he is well able to Bombast out a blank verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes factotum. on May 26. Shakespeare and his wife lived together in Stratford long enough after the birth of Susanna to give occasion for another entry in the parish register recording the christening of their twin children on February 2. because of his father’s financial difficulties. Shakespeare’s first daughter Susanna was christened. followed in the next year by The Rape of Lucrece. 1582 for the legality of the marriage between William Shakespeare (“William Shagspere”) and Anne Hathaway (“Anne Hathwey”). Some time during this period Shakespeare embarked on his theatrical career. another has him beginning his theatrical career minding horses before the playhouses. Hamnet and Judith.

formed after the plague of 1593 from the remnants of several previous companies. to perform Richard II. Meres began by praising Shakespeare’s poetry – the two narrative poems. a day before their failed rebellion.) In 1598. Having invested his money effectively. Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. in February 1608). during the last ten years of her reign. In 1601. Francis Meres. Love’s Labour’s Lost. The company was later investigated to determine its role in the uprising. another contemporary. Richard II. Wits Treasury.) In 1603. the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. purchasing several properties in and around Stratford (including a major investment in farm revenues). 1601. and because John himself had “maryed the daughter & one of the heyrs of Robert Arden of Wellingcote. the College of Heralds granted a coat of arms to the family patriarch. apparently without their author’s knowledge or consent. or simply because he was tired of London and ready to lead the life of a country gentleman. Shakespeare’s name was related to that of the Earl of Essex’ conspirers against Queen Elizabeth I. her only child Elizabeth was born. published a work which has proven most valuable in dating Shakespeare’s plays. There is also a tradition that The Merry Wives of Windsor was written because of the Queen’s desire to see Falstaff in love.” The motto reads: “NON SANS DROIT. the Lord Chamberlain’s Men performed at court thirty-two times. (According to Ben Jonson. in 1597 (after his son’s death). On February 7.” This fact proves Shakespeare’s efforts to improve his fortune and better his social status. Perhaps “semi-retirement” would be a more accurate term. but was cleared of any complicity. and the Sonnets – and then compared Shakespeare to Plautus in comedy and to Seneca in tragedy. but also in London. Shakespeare could afford to retire to Stratford about 161011. Burbage and Condell. the players performed before the queen on the eve of Essex’s execution. Ironically.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best By 1595. the royal documents mention Shakespeare as one of the sharers of the King’s Men (the former Lord Chamberlain’s Men) and 5 years later. and in the most laudatory terms. (Titus Andronicus had also been published but anonymously in 1594. Another proof of Shakespeare’s prosperity is that. he becomes an owner of the Blackfriars Theatre with a seventh share. Shakespeare’s plays were admired by Elizabeth. when he was 33. John Hall and one year later. Shakespeare’s eldest daughter Susanna married Dr. a play which had been published in a censored form. The grant was approved on the basis of the “faithefull & approved service to H7 [Henry VII]” performed by John’s great-grandfather. with two barns and two orchards attached. he had enough money to invest 60 pounds in New Place. the second largest house in Stratford. perhaps because of failing health. Shakespeare continued to write and contributed to two final plays in this English Renaissance Literature 51 . In Palladis Tamia. Shakespeare’s sonnets were piratically printed. with the politically sensitive deposition scene suppressed. In October 1596. In 1609. Shakespeare was certainly an important member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. From 1598. supporters of the Earl of Essex commissioned Shakespeare’s company. compared to thirtyseven performances by all other companies combined. John Shakespeare. taking interest in municipal affairs or receiving visits from his old friends Ben Jonson and his fellow actors Heminge. Indeed. Shakespeare’s name began to appear upon published plays: Richard III. In 1607. for he mentions many of them.

• The first period of creation (1589-1600): o Before about 1594: Four history plays (Henry VI. totalled 908 pages and sold for £1. 1614. The cause of his death is unknown. Shakespeare’s burial is recorded in the Stratford Parish Register as occurring on 25 April. 1616 in Holy Trinity Church. giving evidence in a civil suit brought by a London tire-maker against a former apprentice. We also owe Shakespearean scholarship the subdivision of Shakespeare’s literary activity into three periods (with an additional subdivision of the first period into the early and late first period). in 1616. and he was in London periodically attending to business matters. 18 quartos of his dramas had been printed. Parts One. in 1612 he was in London. This is how some of Shakespeare’s plays appeared in small. That is why it was only after a play had run its course on the stage that the acting company. but he died on April 23 (this is the date given on the funerary monument erected before 1623). he revised and signed his will. Shakespeare’s last documented appearance in London was November 17. cheap quartos. The Rape of Lucrece – 1593-1594). Shakespeare’s fellow actors John Heminge and Henry Condell published the first complete edition – also known as the First Folio – containing 36 plays in all. But. when an artillery salute was fired in the first act to announce the entrance of King Henry. and Three– 15891591. At his death. the text having been pirated from stage copies. Stratford. On March 25. as when he and Richard Burbage designed an impresa (an emblem accompanied by a motto) for the Earl of Rutland. Richard III – 1592-1593). (In 1741.) 1623 is also the year when the first complete edition of Shakespeare’s plays was published. An early performance of Henry VIII. The so-called Doeshut portrait of the poet was on the title page and Ben Jonson composed the verse accompanying it. burning the entire theatre to the ground in less than an hour. The text of Shakespeare’s First Folio was in double column format. In Elizabethan England there was no copyright and rivalling theatre companies might have used the text if a reputed playwright had published his plays in book form. hastily complied for quick sale during his life (see above 1594 and 1598). was unintentionally the most spectacular of Shakespeare’s career. the sole owner of the drama. but one can never be sure how close to Shakespeare’s own writings they are. Two narrative poems (Venus and Adonis – 1592-1593. in 1623. on June 29. He was buried on April 25. 1616. The house where he was born was purchased for preservation as a National Memorial in 1847and the First Shakespeare Memorial Theatre – now the Royal Shakespeare Theatre – was opened in 1879. In 1611 he was one of a number of citizens who contributed to the maintenance of highways in the Stratford area.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best period (Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen). Records also indicate that he was present at Court on several occasions. We have at last got and intelligible and reliable text for the works of the dramatist as the result of the painstaking textual criticism of the scholars in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. a piece of burning material landed on the thatched roof of the Globe. a monument was erected to his memory in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey. 1613. Two. 1616. 52 English Renaissance Literature . where he had been baptised just over 52 years earlier. would have it published to obtain a bit more money. The versions of the First Folio are the only source for twenty of Shakespeare’s plays.

Two final plays written in collaboration. power and love (Antony and Cleopatra – 1607-1608). John Fletcher: a history of recent time in England (Henry VIII – 1612-1613) and a romance of chivalry (The Two Noble Kinsmen – 1613-1614).1605-1609). A tragedy set in Roman times (Julius Caesar – 1599-1600).Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best A comedy in the style of Plautus (The Comedy of Errors . Twelfth Night – 1599-1600). Parts One and Two – 1596-1597.1589). A history. A tragedy of blood in the style of Kyd (Titus Andronicus . No report of rumour against Shakespeare’s English Renaissance Literature 53 . of parents and children (King Lear . A Midsummer Night’s Dream – 1595-1596) . The Shakespearean Controversy Shakespeare’s own age fully accepted him as the great dramatist and among the evidence of his contemporaries Ben Jonson’s testimony ranks as the most unchallengeable. A farcical comedy which today we might call a problem comedy (The Taming of the Shrew – 1593-1594). Four histories. loss and rediscovery (Pericles. A tragedy of love (Othello – 1602-1603). A tragedy of age. An odd and possibly unfinished tragedy (Timon of Athens . A group of three great romantic comedies (Much Ado About Nothing – 1597-1599. • The third period of creation (to about 1614): A patchwork tale of adventure. A comedy of the fat knight. written over several years (Richard II -1595-1596. A romance of Britain and Rome (Cymbeline – 1609-1610). love and fate (Romeo and Juliet – 1591-1595). not part of a group of history plays (King John – 15961597). A comedy that seems at times more like the tragedy of its supposed villain (The Merchant of Venice -1596-1597).1601-1602). A tragedy of Rome. As You Like It. Two dark comedies (All's Well That Ends Well -1602-1603. Egypt. shipwreck. originally created in the history plays (The Merry Wives of Windsor – 1597-1599). Henry V – 1597-1599). of mother and child (Coriolanus – 16071608). A tale of tragic jealousy and pastoral rebirth (The Winter's Tale – 1610-1611). • The second period of creation (1600-1608): One of Shakespeare’s finest tragedies (Hamlet . A tragedy of Rome and power. Some of the sonnets (1592-1598).1611). A tragedy of youth. Falstaff. of husband and wife (Macbeth – 1605-1606). 2. in each case probably with a younger playwright.1605).1606-1608). A tragedy of power. A comedy in the courtly style of John Lyly (The Two Gentlemen of Verona – 1592-1593). 3. Henry IV. Prince of Tyre . o To about 1600: Two profoundly original comedies (Love's Labours Lost – 15931594.1589). A disturbing play that defies category (Troilus and Cressida – 1601-1602). Measure for Measure – 1603-1604). A tale of a brave new world (The Tempest .

(Marlowe was said to hold “atheistic” views.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best authorship was recorded until 1769 when Herbert Lawrence challenged for the first time the ascription of the plays to the minor actor William Shakespeare. but faked his own death and fled England to escape the notorious Star Chamber. Walsingham then passed the plays on to a convenient front man – the actor William Shakespeare – who brought them to the stage. Oxford was a poet and playwright himself. As Hoffman relates at the outset of his book. examining uncanny correspondences between de Vere’s copy of the Geneva Bible and Biblical references in Shakespeare’s plays. which he then sent back to his patron in England. and so he wrote under a pseudonym. Sir Thomas Walsingham. The fact that Oxford died in 1604. that Marlowe wrote his masterpieces. In this respect. The plays are full of philosophy and reveal considerable knowledge of the law. published a book arguing that Sir Francis Bacon. before such masterpieces as Macbeth. Like other Baconians. if not the most convincing. was the author. successfully defended at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. But a recent doctoral dissertation. an American woman. Indeed. Mark Twain was also a proponent of Bacon. it was in Italy. of contributions on the subject. a serious charge in those days. Bacon was not only a philosopher but the greatest legal mind of the age. and The Tempest are generally accepted to have been written. an intimate familiarity with the life and manners of the court. cousin of Sir Francis Walsingham. After having the works recopied in another hand. the theory goes. rests on his belief that Marlowe – known by historians to have been a spy in Elizabeth I’s secret service – did not die in 1593 in Deptford. the mild Stratford bourgeois. has added new fuel to the Oxfordian fire. but said that he was “quite composedly and contentedly sure that Shakespeare didn't. Antony and Cleopatra. claim that the plays of Shakespeare reveal an aristocratic sensibility. the great Elizabethan philosopher. when Delia Bacon. seems to have had a tremendous impact. Elizabeth’s spy master. Protestant England’s equivalent of the Inquisition. Calvin Hoffman’s book. The Oxfordians.) Hoffman believed Marlowe fled to Italy. Hoffman’s theory. and a level of education and worldly experience that would seem beyond a barely educated commoner. some Marlovians say. he first began to suspect that Marlowe was the author when he noticed striking similarities between 54 English Renaissance Literature . The “Authorship Questions” was again brought into discussion in 1857. about whose life almost nothing has come down to us. Twain felt that literature of such great learning and wisdom could not possibly have been written by a two-bit actor with a provincial grammar school education at best. Christopher Marlowe’s name has been put forward as that of the “true author” of Shakespeare’s works. allowing the actor from Stratford to play the part of author. Another theory advanced by a modern group of “unorthodox” or “antiStratfordian” scholars has ascribed the plays undoubtedly to Edward de Vere. has never been conclusively explained by Oxfordians. Twain concluded that he could not say for certain who wrote the plays. as they are referred to. the 17th Earl of Oxford. and his book Is Shakespeare Dead? may be one of the most entertaining." published in the United States in 1955. Last but not least. on the banks of the Thames. The Murder of the Man Who Was "Shakespeare.” and strongly suspected that Bacon did. where his artistic development accelerated amidst the late Italian Renaissance. but as an aristocrat he could not sully his name by writing for the public stage. which is credited with launching the modern case for Marlowe.

3. Scotland. in particular his Union of the Two Noble and Illustre [Illustrious] Families of Lancaster and York (1548). Patriotic sentiment probably ran particularly high in the years following 1588. Uneven and sometimes crude both in dramatic movement and verse technique. Shakespeare’s supporters. however. Raphael Holingshed’s Chronicles of England. (Of course. they have their ‘Shakespearean’ moments and show Shakespeare seeking a way from the episodic chronicle play to a more dramatic and fully integrated handling of historical material. and Ireland seem a particularly likely source for many of his history plays. William Shakespeare turned to the composition of this type of drama that had no classical prototype. the 26-year old William Shakespeare began to plan and compose his tetralogy dealing with the Wars of the Roses: the three parts of Henry VI (c. Marlovians attribute these differences to the natural maturation that would have occurred in Marlowe’s writing had he fled England and continued his career in Italy. Chronicle Plays The chronicle play/ history play is the only form of drama invented by the Elizabethans.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best Marlowe’s works and those attributed to Shakespeare. “The three Henry VI plays. might also have provided Shakespeare with useful information especially for the last play of English Renaissance Literature 55 .) The debate on the authorship matter continues nowadays and seems still far from reaching a unanimously acknowledged issue. but which held a particular fascination for the English public in the 1590s and helped create a sense of a collective national memory. Only later in his career did Shakespeare look back to the events prior to Henry VI’s kingship. and they were followed by plays tracing the years after Henry VI’s death and the ensuing civil wars over succession. After having tried his hand at an imitation of Roman comedy (The Comedy of Errors) and of a Roman tragedy (Titus Andronicus). Hoffman claimed to have uncovered hundreds of “parallelisms”: lines and passages from Marlowe’s plays and poems that are echoed. in Shakespeare’s. Shakespeare probably made use of contemporary chronicles of the 15th century and the struggles during these years between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians in the War of the Roses. are of interest to those concerned with Shakespeare’s attitude to English history as well as to those numerous scholars who have been attracted by the bibliographical and other problems which they raise. about 1589. Stratfordians point out differences in the two playwrights’ styles: Shakespeare appears much slower in terms of innovation. when the English defeated the invading Spanish Armada. (Edward Hall’s chronicles.) Furthermore. with which he opened his career. if not quoted verbatim.e. After comparing Shakespeare’s and Marlowe’s works. feminine characters and comedy) in which Marlowe was deficient. (It was a common practice by that time. 3.” (Daiches. In this context. dismiss such similarities as proof only that the Bard borrowed rather liberally (not to say stolen) from his contemporaries. including that of his father Henry V. 1592-1593). 15891591) and Richard III (c. The history play drew upon such sentiments. but excels in some aspects of playwriting (i. 1991: 260) They figure among Shakespeare’s first forays into the genre of history play. Shakespeare set to write historical plays still leaning heavily on Marlowe and probably collaborating with other dramatists as well.

both Talbot and his son lay dead. 3 Henry VI is a continuation of the depiction of the War of the Roses between the Lancastrian descendants of Edward III. as a weak king figure. first between Gloucester and Beaufort. 2 Henry VI concerns the continued scheming in the court. causes the Englishmen to give inadequate support to Talbot in the battlefield. The infighting between the lords and the popular uprising by Jack Cade show what happens to the nation when the king in power is too weak to rule effectively. As for Henry. Yet Shakespeare has not 56 English Renaissance Literature . villainously announcing his separation from kinship networks that define the rest of the play. represented by the red rose. thus. That announces Henry. when the Duke of York was killed. particularly those of family. Richard. to the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. but it also acknowledges the potential weaknesses of men. and the future of English chivalry has died with them. Talbot represents the end of a tradition of valiant knights whose sole desire is to fight for the glory of their homeland. to some extent. and of kings. led into battle by Talbot. he has appeared on numerous occasions throughout the play. he is fated to be thwarted and disgraced at every turn of the plot. becomes even more prominent than in the previous two plays and. By the end of the play. the Countess of Auverge. Near the end of the play. Shakespeare had to conflate or alter historical events so they would fit within a dramatic context. Gloucester. He is a man from a lost world where valour and honour were communally shared masculine ideals passed from father to son. who wore the white rose. Richard kills Henry and declares that he has no father or brothers. defeated the Lancastrians. the story of a warrior culture that is dying. stretching between the Battle of Wakefield in 1460. when Edward. dominated by the charismatic Joan of Arc. The play creates heroes of a masculine world. in particular. Margaret). 1 Henry VI is entirely driven by conflict. there is the conflict between Henry’s forces. and his Yorkist descendants. exacerbating the primary conflict. from the very beginning of the trilogy. Equally threatened by the power of women as public figures (Joan of Arc. in general. Henry seems to recognize this truth. Strong kings like Henry V do not necessarily create strong successors in their sons. in Henry’s court. echoing the struggle between Winchester and the Protector of the kingdom.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best the trilogy. The degradation of social ties. when he speaks about dissention as the “worm” gnawing on his kingdom. the argument between York and Somerset. As the representative of legitimacy in a time of social disorder. yet he is unable to end the crisis. On one hand. and the forces of the Dauphin Charles. nothing remains but the assertion of individual will. thus. However. This third installment ambitiously depicts many significant battles fought during that civil war. then between York’s faction and the other lords. The message within these court struggles is that petty rivalries and internal divisions among the nobility can be as dangerous to England as French soldiers. Then. as well as in the previous plays of the trilogy. York’s eldest son. which is best illustrated in the case of one of the Duke of York’s sons. The play becomes. under the circumstances. as a weak king. The play charts the rise and fall of many lords and lesser figures within the kingdom. the world of men seems to crumble.) Focused mainly on the events that followed Henry V’s death up to the disastrous end of the Hundred Years’ War (the loss of Britain’s territories in France) and subtly anticipating the Wars of the Roses.

executed. Using his intelligence and his skills of deception and political manipulation. Queen Elizabeth I ruled England. power-hungry. the historical King Richard III was not necessarily more murderous than the kings who preceded or succeeded him. He then has the boys’ relatives on their mother’s side—the powerful kinsmen of Edward’s wife. Richard then imprisons the young princes in the Tower and. 1592-1593) The source is again Holinshed’s Chronicles. And when his meditation is interrupted by the dreadful scene of father killing son and son killing father. afterwards Richard III.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best designed him only to be the object of scorn. Queen Elizabeth—arrested and executed. as Shakespeare portrays him. Lord Buckingham. nevertheless. The struggle between opposing wings of the same family infects the familial tone of an entire nation. most notably Lord Hastings. After King Edward dies. campaign to have Richard crowned king. Clarence. With Elizabeth and the princes now unprotected. Richard. Nor is it likely that he was deformed. Henry VI becomes more and more clearly a representative of peace and its blessings. bold and subtle. treacherous yet brave. He manipulates a noblewoman. England enjoys a period of peace under King Edward IV and the victorious Yorks. Richard begins to aspire secretly to the throne—and decides to kill anyone he has to in order to become king. Richard’s reign of terror has caused the common people of England to fear and loathe him. the official party line of the Elizabethan era was that Richard was a monster who was not a legitimate ruler of England. Next Richard kills the court noblemen who are loyal to the princes. Bloody though he was. When rumours begin to circulate about a challenger to the throne who is gathering forces in France. After a long civil war between the royal family of York and the royal family of Lancaster. Richard has his political allies. into marrying him—even though she knows that he murdered her first husband. Case Study: Richard III (c. noblemen defect in droves to join his forces. the lord chamberlain of England. Malicious. ambitious. The challenger is the English Renaissance Literature 57 . write history. Thus. a murderer and usurper of the crown. He has his own older brother. The message of the play is clearly expressed: a weak monarch like Henry VI means chaos in the kingdom torn apart by selfish feuding lords. He sits upon a hill withdrawn from the battle from which Margaret and Clifford have “chid” him and gives voice to his longing to be a shepherd. not losers. sends hired murderers to kill both children. and he has alienated nearly all the noblemen of the court—even the power-hungry Buckingham. and bitter about his physical deformity. When Shakespeare wrote this play. the play definitely becomes an anti-war play. physically deformed. particularly his righthand man. Elizabeth was a descendant of King Henry VII. By this time. in his bloodiest move yet. resents Edward’s power and the happiness of those around him. Lady Anne. He tells how much he wants quiet for contemplation in lines of elegiac quality that wins sympathy for the humiliated king. sanguinary. Richard becomes lord protector of England—the figure in charge until the elder of Edward’s two sons grows up. and shifts the burden of guilt onto his sick older brother King Edward in order to accelerate Edward’s illness and death. the ruler who overthrew Richard. The play centres on the figure of Richard of Gloucester. But Edward’s younger brother. It would have been thoroughly dangerous for Shakespeare to suggest otherwise. Richard begins his campaign for the throne. Winners.

and generations of readers have found themselves seduced by his brilliance with words and his persuasive emotional manipulations even as they are repelled by his evil. Promising a new era of peace for England. our relationship with Richard mimics the other characters’ relationships with him. Nevertheless. In the battle on the following morning. we are likely to sympathize with him. and that exploration is centred on Richard’s mind. Even characters such as Lady Anne. Although it is often viewed as a sequel to three of Shakespeare’s earlier history plays—1 Henry VI. the daughter of the former Queen Elizabeth and the dead King Edward. Perhaps more than in any other play by Shakespeare. The play chronicles the bloody deeds and atrocities perpetrated by its central figure—the murderous and tyrannical King Richard III. ambiguous. a descendant of a secondary arm of the Lancaster family. the new king is betrothed to young Elizabeth in order to unite the warring houses of Lancaster and York. That justifies describing Richard as a Machiavellian villain. Furthermore. Richard. But despite his open allegiance to evil.” the archetype of the scandalously amoral. conveying a powerful sense of the force of his personality.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best earl of Richmond. power-hungry ruler that had been made famous by the Renaissance Italian writer Niccolò Machiavelli in The Prince (first published in 1532). Richard is in every way the dominant character of the play that bears his name. to the extent that he is both the protagonist of the story and its major villain. allow 58 English Renaissance Literature . Richard proves to be highly self-reflective and complicated—making his heinous acts all the more chilling. and England is ready to welcome him. Richard has begun to lose control of events. 2 Henry VI. In this way.i. Iniquity. and Queen Elizabeth manages to forestall him. who simply represented the evil in man. he is such a charismatic and fascinating figure that. she secretly promises to marry young Elizabeth to Richmond. Shakespeare’s audiences also would have thought of the “Machiavel. Vice. compares himself to this standard character when he says. Though young Elizabeth is his niece. who have an explicit knowledge of his wickedness. Richard invites an eerie fascination. Watching Richard’s character. and 3 Henry VI—Richard III is usually read and performed on its own. for much of the play. so that he can marry young Elizabeth. Like the “Vice” character of medieval morality pageants. Richard does not justify his villainy—he is simply bad. He has his wife. Meanwhile. “Thus like the formal Vice. Richard. and Richmond is crowned King Henry VII. Richard is clearly a villain—he declares outright in his very first speech that he intends to stop at nothing to achieve his nefarious designs. We should note that the mere fact that he reflects upon his similarity to the Vice figure suggests that there is more to him than this mere resemblance. especially in the later scenes of the play.82–83). Richard is killed. Indeed. Richard has a terrible dream in which the ghosts of all the people he has murdered appear and curse him. tries to consolidate his power. telling him that he will die the next day. the audience of Richard III experiences a complex. who was a flat and one-sided embodiment of evil. the alliance would secure his claim to the throne. / I moralize two meanings in one word” (III. murdered. The night before the battle that will decide everything. or at least to be impressed with him. Critics sometimes compare Richard to the medieval character. and highly changeable relationship with the main character. with self-conscious theatricality. Richard III is an intense exploration of the psychology of evil. in the meantime. Queen Anne. Richmond finally invades England.

Richard’s evil is a much more innate part of his character than simple bitterness about his ugly body. makes it easy to sympathize with Richard during the first scenes of the play.e. while Richmond ends the War of the Roses by uniting the red and white rose through marriage and originating the Tudor line. fascinating monologues. In Richard III. In Act I. Richard’s monologues end. and he manages to take the throne. corruption and crime may be put an end to only by the united forces of those who stand for righteousness in the word (i. The reason for Shakespeare’s choice of John’s reign was the opportunity to dramatize its events in a way that would make them serve as a favourable commentary on the political and religious struggles in which Elizabeth was involved. Richard’s long. was an heir of Henry VII. He apparently thought it unwise to take up the story of English monarchs with Henry VII’s seizure of the throne since such continuation would have carried him dangerously close to Queen Elizabeth’s immediate ancestors. but somehow he loses his charismatic power once he has achieved the crown. for example. his skilful argumentation. and that he is unloved because of his physical deformity. Challenged by Henry. thus. He turned to the reign of John and Richard II. authority and security. His tyranny. In the early chronicle plays Shakespeare detailed the disaster brought on the kingdom by a weak monarchy. 1595-1597) was adapted by Shakespeare from an earlier work. The Life and Death of King John (c. The final political lesson is thus that civil disorder shakes a nation into chaos and inevitably raises a tyrant to supreme power. Now that he belonged to the prosperous middle classes. and his relentless pursuit of his selfish desires.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best themselves to be seduced by his brilliant wordplay. Once Richard stops exerting his charisma on the audience. English Renaissance Literature 59 . that Richard simply uses his deformity as a tool to gain the sympathy of others—including us. in which he outlines his plans and gleefully confesses all his evil thoughts. Shakespeare the humanist still condemns absolute power and oppression but the bourgeois in him demands a firm enlightened rule to check up any manifestation of social chaos. Shakespeare’s history plays show the faults of the Lancastrians and Yorkists. far into England’s medieval past. The play with some departure from historical accuracy deals with various events in King John’s reign. however. This claim. It quickly becomes apparent. the Tudors). are central to the audience’s experience of Richard. Richard succeeds in bringing about the death or downfall of both his brothers. his real nature becomes much more apparent. and by the end of the play he can be seen for the monster that he is. he shared his class’s ideal of order. Richard dolefully claims that his malice toward others stems from the fact that he is unloved. But he uses this speech to win our trust. the reigning sovereign when this play was written. which casts the other characters of the play as villains for punishing Richard for his appearance. scene i. Earl of Richmond. Richard loses the throne and his life. Elizabeth I. After he is crowned king and Richmond begins his uprising. enabling this manipulative protagonist to work his charms on the audience. Shakespeare returned to the profitable medium of history plays once he had been successful with his tetralogy. Shakespeare uses these monologues brilliantly to control the audience’s impression of Richard. indirectly championing the Tudor succession. and he repeats this ploy throughout his struggle to be crowned king.

And' in the ritual note which pervades the play he pictures a phase of English civilization very different from the breezy background of power politics we see in the Henry IV plays. Richard himself. and his succession the result of personal ambition rather than divine right-had long acquired an aura of mystery and pathos in the minds of those who looked back to it. The deposition scene is a careful inversion of the coronation ritual. then in favor of Richard) shows remarkable dramatic cunning. and the way he manipulates the audience's sympathy (first against. providing both adequate psychological explanation and impressive poetic expression.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best When the London theatres reopened in the spring of 1594 after the great London plague of 1592 Shakespeare embarked upon the ambitious project of constructing a sequence of 4 connected history plays: Richard II (1595-1596). Part 1 (1596–1597). petulant. The other side. the last English king to rule in virtue of his direct and undisputed descent from William the Conqueror. 1Henry IV (1596). forms the second part of a tetralogy that deals with the historical rise of the English royal House of Lancaster. Inspired by Holinshed’s Chronicle and Daniel’s History of the Civil Wars. 2 Henry IV (1597) and Henry V (1597-1599). the historical Hotspur was not the same age as Prince Harry. For instance. saw Richard as a weak and foolish king who voluntarily abdicated because he recognized his own unfitness to carry out his royal duties. who supported the claims of Henry IV and his successors. in tone to suggest the Elizabethan view of the Middle Ages. although Shakespeare significantly alters or invents history where it suits him. the action of 1 Henry IV takes place nearly two centuries before Shakespeare’s own time. His deposition was in a sense sacrilege. Richard was the Lord's anointed. Set in the years 1402–1403. is the most complex character that Shakespeare had so far created. 1991: 260-1) Henry IV." belonging to Shakespeare's own world. and Bolingbroke's impatience with Richard's histrionics is also the modern man's impatience with the stylized forms of medieval life. but it also helps to build Richard's character and to differentiate it from that of his more realistic and practical supplanter. “Richard II (1595-96) is a more complex and interesting play. The play refers back to the history covered in Richard II (which can be considered its prequel). written at about the same time). deliberately ritualistic-even sacramental. Shakespeare combines both pictures with complete dramatic consistency'. the Lancastrians. emotionally self-indulgent. and Shakespeare deliberately set out to render that aura dramatically. not by fate. and after his death his supporters built up a picture of him as saint and martyr. and a familiarity 60 English Renaissance Literature . more commonly referred to as 1 Henry IV. Richard II was probably meant as a reply to Marlowe’s Edward II. The deposition of the last of England's medieval kings – for Shakespeare clearly thought of Henry IV as "modern. and Shakespeare’s Mortimer is a conflation of two separate individuals.” The catastrophe is caused neither by a villain. In general. nor by the pressure of events but by a serious flaw in the protagonist’s nature. childish.” (Daiches. it follows real events and uses historical figures. The self-indulgent lyricism of many of Richard's own speeches reflects the predominantly lyrical interest that seems to have been a feature of Shakespeare's dramatic art in this phase of his development (we see it also in Romeo and Juliet. Richard II marks a new development in the poet’s composition of his “histories. incapable of asserting his authority over factious nobles but brooding and poetizing over his royal status once he is on the point of losing it.

on the battlefield against determined rebels. so richly amusing in his comic vitality in his habitual environment. the country justices. He enters the latter world only to be ejected from it.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best with the events of Richard II is helpful for understanding the motivations of various characters in 1 Henry IV. He has many historical precedents: he owes much to archetypes like the figure of Vice from medieval morality plays and Gluttony from medieval pageants about the seven deadly sins. an arrogant soldier from classical Greek and Roman comedy. even attractive. Prince Harry’s fat. But the figure who represents Riot is so much more than a character in a morality play that the whole tone and character of the two plays are altered by his presence. In Part II. however. and criminally degenerate mentor and friend. In Part I the three levels of the action – the high political. but politically immoral world of Hotspur and his fellow rebels – each has its appropriate language and its place in the~ total politjco-moral pattern. Falstaff is no conventional Vice. The central theme is the education of Prince Hal. Falstaff’s irreverent wit is legendary. and this is worked out with many echoes of the older moralities. and the plausible. Shakespeare uses the Percy rebellion in Part I in order to put Falstaff in some degree in his proper moral place: the colossus of the Boar's Head tavern. Henry IV's son and later Henry V. unconsciously comic (unlike English Renaissance Literature 61 . It is perhaps simplest to take the common-sense position that Shakespeare wrote the first part as a play complete in itself. surrounding Henry IV. aged. that he belongs to the amoral world of the Boar's Head. and must be removed from it. This is to consider the two Henry IV plays as a single dramatic unit. Among Shakespeare’s most famous creations is Falstaff. As a matter of fact. the world of inefficient innocence. and there are convincing arguments for and against this view. Hotspur's heroic egotism and Falstaff’s unheroic egotism are both contrasted with the attitude of heroic unselfishness which is the implied ideal attitude for the ruler. The way for the final and inevitable rejection of Falstaff by his former boon companion now become king is prepared throughout the latter section of Part I and the earlier section of Part II. and though we are properly sorry for him we must realize that the amoral becomes the immoral in this new context. Ultimately. faking a heroic action for himself. and in a sense a deeper one: they represent the England which remains unchanged throughout all the political struggles of ambitious men to achieve control of the state. but a comic figure of immense proportions who embodies in his speech and action an amoral gusto in living at the same time as he stands for a way of life which the prince must repudiate before he can be king. becomes less satisfactory as a human being when he is found using his authority as an officer to line his own pockets and impair the strength of the king's forces or. Shallow and Silence. and the Lord of Misrule. not to the moral world of the dedicated Christian ruler. Much ink has been spilt on the rejection of Falstaff: the simple fact is that he is (and is meant to be) engaging but not admirable. second among Shakespearean characters only to Hamlet as a subject of critical interest. the low comic. the title given to an individual appointed to reign over folk festivities in medieval England. represent yet another level. but when he continued it in the second he adjusted his continuation to a comprehensive and consistent view of the meaning of the whole action of both parts. both “Henry IV Part I and Part II (1597-98) show Shakespeare combining the political with the comic in a new and striking manner. Falstaff is a Shakespearean creation. surrounding Falstaff. His character also draws on the miles gloriosus figure.

much more significantly.A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595-1596) – one of his first great romantic comedies of amazing originality.” (Daiches. the King and his sons and advisers. A play about love and male friendship. rebels. roisterers. . Multi-layered in structure. The structural complexity finds its correspondence in 62 English Renaissance Literature . The juxtaposition of different moral and social levels in both parts helps to give the play its richness and brilliance. happily varied play. the richest comic creation in English literature. Statesmen. it brings together the world of the fairies and that of the human beings. Launce. 1991: 261-3) 3. Percy and his friends.The Taming of the Shrew (1593-1594) – a farcical play based on the playwithin-the-play device. his kind of success comes to simpler and in some respects less attractive characters. that rejects the idea of cloistered study of philosophy and idle contemplation and affirms direct experience of life in the company of women. the girl in man’s disguise in pursuit of her lover). Henry V is good theater and contains some admirable rhetorical verse.The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1592-1593) – a romantic comedy of gentle manners and cultivated emotion that draws on some of Lyly’s innovations (e. who is consciously so).Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best Falstaff. about the relation between moral character and human behavior. The witty and aloof prince of the Henry IV plays has become a copybook model for a conquering prince. and esthetically satisfying plays whose subject. . foolish and pretentious. a much narrower concept than that of the Renaissance gentleman. Shallow and Silence – each group has its place in the unfolding action (or series of actions). Here is a list of Shakespeare’s comedies of the (early and late) first period of creation: . with its upper (the royal pair – Theseus and Hipolyta. but they are. is human nature. Falstaff with Peto and Bardolph and Mistress Quickly and Doll Tearsheet. The Henry IV plays can be seen as part of the general pattern of Shakespeare's picture of English history from Richard II to the Tudor. Comedies Ever since his first period of creation. They grew in complexity and covered a wide range of themes. Its most prominent couple Berowne and Rosaline anticipate by their witty exchanges further developments in Shakespeare’s comedies. like the subject of all great drama. 4. on Henry as ideal warrior and man of action with a conventional piety and a gift for military rhetoric that impressed Shakespeare's contemporaries more than they impress us. . well-constructed. entertaining. it also displays Shakespeare’s first clown.The Comedy of Errors (1589) – written in imitation of Plautus as a comedy of mistaken identities. And Falstaff remains.g. A brisk. stimulating. each reveals something about England. Henry V (1598-99) concludes the historical series. and one for which the modern reader or audience has to make a special effort to align his sensibility with that of the Elizabethans. It is narrower in scope and interest than the Henry IV plays. according to tradition. Shakespeare tried his hand at writing comedies.Love's Labours Lost (1593-1594) – a court play occasionally written in the euphuistic style. concentrating. about the nature of man. But it is the narrowest and occasionally the stuffiest of all of Shakespeare's maturer plays. greater even than the plays which contain him. Henry V has none of the tortured idealism of Brutus or the intellectual and moral complexity of Hamlet. the aristocratic lovers) and lower (the Mechanicals) classes. yet impressively and averagely human. .

According to many Shakespearean scholars.The Waking Man’s Dream. .Petruchio taming plot and . Rosalynd (disguised throughout most of the play as a boy under the name of Ganimede). i. “Beatrice is one of Shakespeare’s great heroines: spirited. as it is called in one version – circulated in a variety of forms throughout Europe and to be found even in The Arabian Nights: a man of lower class.Twelfth Night (1599-1600) – the last of Shakespeare’s great romantic comedies. revenge and ambiguous gender relations raises many questions and does not invite the spectator to laugh light-heartedly (as in the case of the previously mentioned plays) but to bitterly meditate on the twists of fortune. justice and love.the Sly framework. prose (the Mechanicals. . except Oberon and Titania).Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best the discursive variety: blank verse (the royal couple). inspired by Thomas Lodge’s novel Rosalynde. hence they are referred to as “problem plays.Much Ado about Nothing (1597-1599) – another great romantic comedy. next to his two original creations. . 2000: 139) Case Study: The Taming of the Shrew (1593-1594) For the first audience to witness a performance of the play.” (Gavriliu. In all these plays the actions are motivated by love for a person who proves to be patently unworthy of such devotion. independent.The Merry Wives of Windsor (1597-1599) – allegedly written to satisfy Queen Elizabeth’s desire to see Sir John Falstaff in love. drawing upon a variety of sources. The Taming of the Shrew may have appeared as the most elaborate and skilfully designed comedy that had yet been staged. misanthropic Jaques. rhymed couplets (the lovers).e. 2000: 130) . combines in a far more complex manner three distinct lines of plot: . a play about the triumph of love that draws extensively on the motifs of mistaken identities and of the girl disguised as a boy.” (Gavriliu. All's Well That Ends Well (1602-1603) and Measure for Measure (1603-1604) do contain elements of comedy but they “present a problem for the reader or the spectator who is left with a sense that the author is viewing his characters from a distance and with a pessimistically ironic eye. this play of racial conflict. yet completely feminine. Similarly. Written mainly in prose. Though entitled “a comedy” of romantic love and true friendship. it is highly realistic owing to the faithful manner of representation of life in the small English towns in the Elizabethan England. Shakespeare also wrote a more problematic comedy (more of a tragic-comedy.As You Like It (1599-1600) – another great romantic comedy. Benedick is superbly witty and masculine. The Merchant of Venice (1596-1597). is found by an English Renaissance Literature 63 . During the same first period of creation. foregrounding the great witty couple Beatrice –Benedick (a development of the Rosaline-Berowne couple). the first of them is an adaptation of a folk tale . trochaic tetrameter (the fairies. Exploring gender and power relations against the background of the Arden forest heterotopian world. Shakespeare’s comedies take a gloomier turn. especially Bottom). Unlike the previous Comedy of Errors. in the early years of the second period of creation. a poor drunkard.” Troilus and Cressida (1601-1602). proud. it reveals one of Shakespeare’s best achieved heroines. deceit. the clown Touchstone and the melancholy. .the Bianca – Lucentio wooing plot. brilliant. this play.the Katherina .

After having served its purpose to connect the reality of everyday life with the imaginary world of the play.R. see. Christopher Sly. Shakespeare shapes it to his own purposes with extraordinary artistry. easily recognisable by the audience. who is perfectly content with his lot in life and does not want to be transformed into a lord. As G. “the brief yet vigorous altercation between Sly and the Hostess with which the Induction begins is a little curtainraiser for the struggle between Petruchio and Katherina that is to follow. born in a Warwickshire village. carried to his palace and treated like a lord. known as The Taming of a Shrew. for example. Some scholars have believed that neatly rounded-off play to be an earlier draft which was pirated (there is no relevant evidence that the author of that version was Shakespeare himself. irrespective of the origins of that version. against a realistic setting. uses Sly for his own and the audience’s amusement and commands all his servants to take part in his game. Sly is a thoroughly convincing character. Hibbard put it. He has a trick played upon him. just like Katherina. arrives in Padua accompanied 64 English Renaissance Literature . who appears as an absolute monarch of his small domain. before the last scene of the play proper begins. However. where it introduced a story in the form of a dream – which was quite in fashion in playwriting by that time (see also Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy or George Peele’s The Old Wives’ Tale). the story seems to have been very popular in ballads and folk poetry and hence. Shakespeare’s Heroines). most Shakespeareans have argued that the play is better without it. embedding in it many details about life in the part of England the he knew best. once he has done that. In another variant. 1968:44) The play-within-a-play that the actors put on for Sly is the story of two courtships. or he tries to behave like the lord he thinks he is). to whom he would be a familiar figure. while the Lord’s instructions to his page Bartholomew as to the behaviour he is to assume when he appears disguised as Sly’s wife adumbrate the main theme of the play proper” (1968:13). Thus. Anna Jameson’s study. the Induction will be quietly dropped. But the function of the Induction is not only that of offering the play a framework. and addicted to ale. Sly is acted upon and imposed a new identity. transforming at least in part into what other people would like him to be (his transformation is more then obvious when he starts speaking in verse. The Lord. Lucentio. the Lord gives order that Sly should be dressed in his own clothes and carried back to the side of the alehouse where he had been found.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best aristocrat. Moreover. and he makes the perfect link between the world of the audience. and. Sly will be put in a totally alien environment in order to laugh at his awkwardness. while the more current view is that this text was put together from memory by an actor/ several actors who had once taken part in performances of The Taming of the Shrew. Sly wakes up there. “Solid. the play opens with an Induction introducing. but also of providing some interesting parallels to the Katherina – Petruchio plot. leaving behind his rough prose. and the world of the play” (Hibbard. By Shakespeare’s time. 1968:12). convinced that the whole experience has been a dream and goes home to apply the newly acquired knowledge to tame his own shrewish wife. a young man from Pisa. “Sly’s main function is to lead the spectator into the imaginary world of the play. earthy. a drunken tinker. when the play is over. This is the only play in which Shakespeare makes use of this unique theatrical device –inspired by medieval narrative poetry.” (Hibbard. he is no longer required. the rural Warwickshire of his youth. so as to be persuaded that he is really a great man who has been suffering from temporary insanity or who has been dreaming. Of course.

appear to put an end to the situation. Cambio/ Lucentio arranges to be secretly married to Bianca. Under the circumstances. Petruchio arrives in Padua and. The servants pretend not to know Vincentio and the latter is even in danger of being arrested when Lucentio and Bianca. He arrives late. Still. worried about his son. Petruchio and Baptista agree upon the former’s marrying Katherina in exchange for a large dowry to be paid after the wedding. he is even delighted. Moreover. the suitors of his younger daughter Bianca. Petruchio tests Katherina’s having been definitely tamed on the expense of the old Vincentio. who. as he is in search for a wife. The gamble Petruchio proposes to the others is the best opportunity for him to prove everybody that Katherina has changed and she lectures the other women about the duties of women to men. in his turn. but that is not reason enough for Petruchio to give the wedding up. Katherina will completely change her attitude towards her husband. On the wedding day. in spite of his having found out of her temper. after having been denied decent food. should also give his consent to the marriage and Baptista insists that Vincentio should agree to the bargain in person. sheets and pillows or new clothes. the competition for Bianca’s hand becomes even fiercer. for fear that the plot should be revealed. Still Baptista imposes a condition: that his daughter should agree to the marriage as well. Petruchio and Katherina will be invited to Bianca’s wedding and on the way to Padua. Meanwhile. goes to Padua to find him. Consequently. will not let anyone woo his younger daughter until the elder and always bad-tempered Katherina is married. while Tranio will pretend to be Lucentio. in other versions). will present Lucentio. Katherina. he manages to trick the Pedant. Hortensio and their wives. still disguised as Lucentio. So he offers himself as a suitor to Katherina and he introduces Hortensio. Lucentio becomes Cambio the tutor. Tranio. Baptista auctions his daughter off to Tranio/ Lucentio. He convinces Hortensio that neither of them should marry Bianca since she prefers her tutor Cambio (the real Lucentio). dressed as Cambio. dressed in outlandish rags and riding a worn-out horse and humiliates Katherina behaving worse than she does and insisting on leaving at once for his own house without even waiting to eat the wedding dinner. just married. Lucentio. The sparks of battle fly when the Katherina and Petruchio first meet. into accepting to impersonate Vincentio. which will take place right in front of Lucentio’s house. Naturally. With Katherina on the verge of getting married. he is interested in his friend’s Hortesio’s proposal of marrying Katherina. now dressed as the tutor Litio to teach the girls music. Lucentio falls himself in love with Bianca and he and Tranio decide to disguise so as to gain access to the forbidden Bianca. on the contrary. Gremio. The story ends with the wedding feast for Petruchio.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best by his servant Tranio to study at the university. The old man. to teach them literature. But Lucentio’s father. Vincentio. English Renaissance Literature 65 . Baptista will obviously agree to the marriage. Hortensio will marry a widow who has fallen in love with him. Bianca and the widow. The stage is now set for the confrontation between the real and the pretended Vincentio. a newly arrived scholar (or merchant. who offered a higher price than the old Gremio. has done an excellent job for his master. The two come across the wealthy Baptista Minola arguing with the young Hortensio and the elderly Gremio. Petruchio’s behaviour is outrageous. That is only the beginning of a difficult taming process at the end of which.

That explains the popularity in the English comedies or poetry of the shrewish wife as a character-type (from the miracle plays up to Chaucer’s Wife of Bath). some questions should be answered first: What determines Petruchio to adopt such a different strategy? And why is Katherina being shrewish? The opinions of the Shakespeareans scholars vary to a great extent in this respect and that has also influenced their interpretation of the taming. obeyed by his wife. during their first meeting when she strikes him and he replies “I swear I’ll cuff you. the subtlety and the ingenuity of methods by which Petruchio achieves his goal. Petruchio’s strategy is different. Shakespeare offers his readers only some ambiguous clues with respect to the real reasons of her dreadful temper and her unrestrained rebelliousness. The Katherina–Petruchio plot in particular is about the struggle for mastery in marriage.” (Shakespeare. “in the respect of the commandment of God. stressing the fact the he never uses violence against her. The question of domination in man-woman relationships should be considered in close connection with the Elizabethan sense of order. but even then he does not allow himself to be carried away and he sticks to the plan he had previously set his mind to. 1968: 16) But the Elizabethans also knew that their world did not always conform to these ideals and that the struggle for domination in husband-wife relationships was a fact of existence. before thoroughly analysing it. pun for pun and insult for insult. a typical Elizabethan suitor in pursuit of a wealthy wife. Then. For example. tries to bring out the best in her. the shrewish woman was “tamed” by the use of physical force. explicitly stated that the wife owed her husband obedience. 1968: 92). perhaps. In most of the previous works focused upon the same kind of conflict. Some others. Should her “shrewishness” be interpreted as a result of her father’s showing favouritism towards her younger sister Bianca? That she is a highly intelligent woman could be easily seen from her first meeting with Petruchio when she keeps up with him. Similarly. In as far as Katherina is concerned. “The Elizabethans believed that the world was ordered in a series of hierarchies. the main theme of the play is the battle of the sexes. What distinguishes Shakespeare from all the other writers who had dealt with the same theme is the way he handled the taming process. Obviously his main line of attack is psychological. if you strike again.” (quoted by Hibbard. who wants to be “master of what is mine own” (Shakespeare. a man was supposed to be the master of his own household. for the husband is the head of the woman as Christ is the head of the church. Only once is he tempted to use force. one of the oldest themes in the world. Still. psychologically astute “educator”. as St. beginning with God at the top of the highest one and continuing down in a series of nested pyramids.” (Mitchell. the monarch was the highest point of the political hierarchy. He or she was supposed to be like God to nobles and common subjects alike. to take his rightful place as male and husband in the Elizabethan scheme of things where a man is the head of his household. have seen him as a firm. He expected obedience and submission from his inferiors – his wife. who. 1993) The Book of Homilies or The Sermon of the State of Matrimony. 1968: 94). she has become spoiled and bad-tempered because she has never met a man who is her equal and capable of standing 66 English Renaissance Literature .Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best As it can be seen. as to the Lord. which was read in the Elizabethan church. Paul expresseth it in this form of words: Let women be subject to their husbands. children and servants. Some have considered Petruchio a symbol of masculine confidence and strength. convinced after his first rough meeting with Katherina that her true nature is not shrewish. the sophistication.

what makes Petruchio’s strategy even more interesting is that all his outrageous actions and speeches are never directed at his wife and that he constantly appears as a knight-errant who does everything “in reverend care for her”. that is the wild falcon or the haggard. 1968: 8). might appear cruel. two other aspects of Petruchio’s plan are much subtler and more important. Petruchio announces his intention of using such traditional methods of taming at the end of Act IV. when Katherina has fallen asleep.” (Hibbard. to silencing women’s voices. Moreover. if successful. tired after having been dragged out her house without even taking part in her own wedding feast and forced to make a cold. is transformed into comic exuberance by a linguistic virtuosity that delights in the exercise of its own powers” (Hibbard. / For by this light whereby I see thy beauty/ Thy beauty that doth make me like thee well. dirty and unpleasant journey at the end of which she is packed off to bed without any supper. hence. in the end. Petruchio tries to diagnose the cause of her violent behaviour and tells Baptista: “I am as peremptory as she proudminded. Kate. “He kills her in her own humour” (1968: 121). However. The way Katherina herself reacts to the taming has also been subject for debate. 1996: 23). And he is successful for. offensive or outrageous. Katherina is completely transformed. when Petruchio takes everything she says in the reverse sense. the dead letter of an outmoded misogynist culture” (Yachnin. though in different ways.” (1968: 97) and his words have been interpreted as an evidence of his having recognized a kindred spirit in her and. / Thou must be married to no man but me. 1968: 20) This strategy is obvious from the first meeting with Katherina. 1968: 21) Thus. welcoming the chance of meeting an antagonist who will put up a good fight. patience and dedication from the tamer. he says: “Now. So he appreciates her proud animal spirits and compares her with another fierce and difficult creature. after having met her. On the contrary. I am a husband for your turn. through her husband’s exaggerated parody of her wild behaviour.” (1968: 91) Then. in a different context. As Peter. in a mutual trust between man and bird. Before meeting Katherina. Does she finally come to accept her traditional role as a wife who should obey her husband? Could she have fallen in love with Petruchio and that makes her really want to change? Or has she understood Petruchio’s strategy and enjoys joining him in his game? Most feminist Shakespeareans have argued that the play is “of the nature of a joke whose spirit has long vanished. / And where two raging fires meet together. Katherina will come to see the value of that order for which she previously had no use and to see herself as she is. As the Elizabethan books on the subject emphasize. In fact. it is a battle of wills which results. he uses the metaphor of taming the falcon/ hawk to explain his strategy. as the critic put it. /They do consume the thing that feeds their fury. Hibbard explained this line: “What Peter means by this is that Petruchio is deliberately outdoing his wife in his displays of perversity and bad temper. His displays of temper are a caricature of hers.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best up to her. making himself “a kind of mirror – a mirror that exaggerates . scene 1. Petruchio’s servant says. With him. As he himself concludes.” (Hibbard.to Katherina.R. language turns into a “weapon” deliberately exploited for effect so that “what. Here is how G. “This is a way to kill a wife with kindness…” (1968: 122). Scholars like Shirley Nelson Garner (1988) or Linda Boose (1991) have fixed its meaning in terms of the misogyny of early modern England and stated that Katherina’s taming as well as the horrific practice of “bridling” wives contributed equally. the taming and training of these hunting birds requires energy. other English Renaissance Literature 67 . Everything Petruchio does or says is aimed at.

it also has a specific source: George Gascoigne’s translation into English of a comedy called I Suppositi (The Substitutes or The Impostors) written by the great Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto. the playwright. then it points in the opposite direction suggesting her awareness of the value of her own moral and intellectual capacities. Shakespeare preserves the main theme of the Supposes. the practical effect of performing his plays may have been to encourage the expansion and evaluation of options. The first meeting of hero and heroine is rather romantic and Lucentio. Moreover. Thus./ Our strength as weak.e. For the second line of plot in the play. If. It is obvious that “power is over Katherina. she uses her husband’s methods against him. the speech implies Katherina’s recognition of her overweening unworthiness. is given a larger share of action and more initiative. the heroine of The Supposes. but she has power too. but as his equal in a select society which includes themselves. freely choose and change their roles in order to avoid the narrow. Although it has its forerunners in Roman and Italian comedy.” (1981: 64) Textual evidence could be given to support this approach to Katherina’s transformation: when she and Petruchio meet the old Vincentio on their way to Padua. our weakness past compare. Shakespeare makes use of different sources.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best critics have estimated that both Petruchio and Katherina play at. This view of the complexity of Katherina’s character is also supported by the new historicism pointing to the liberating capacity of representation. as she claims./ That seeming to be most which we indeed least are./ My heart as great./ To bandy word for word.” (Yachnin. transported at the sight of Bianca. Dennis Huston argues that “[Katherine’s] speech is undoubtedly proof of her pronounced debt to [Petruchio]. understanding his games. i. as well as a number of other elements such as the change of clothes between master and servant or the use of a casual traveller as the lover’s father. wrote and acted. “in the society in which Shakespeare lived. patriarchy. her closing speech is puzzling. which presents the efforts of a young man. J. at first. “My mind has been as big as one of yours.” (Shakespeare. to the play unsettling its own ending. and frown for frown. the playwright also re-shapes it by adding new elements or suppressing the others. expresses his feelings in stock terms and phrases specific to conventional Elizabethan love poetry./ But now I see our lances are but straws. and perhaps a few members of his audience: those who. which is what she does up to the end of the play. has enabled Shakespeare to treat the matter of marriage and its social implications in a more complex manner than he could have done it otherwise. Bianca. in spite of his preserving the basic structure of the source play based on mistaken identities. 1968: 155). the Bianca –Lucentio wooing plot. (1983: 68) Anyway the understanding of this final speech should be consistent with the interpretation of Katherina’s motives throughout the taming. which obviously makes an excellent contrast to Petruchio’s direct and open wooing of Katherina and his forward proposal to her father Baptista. she is ready to join in them. my reason haply more. imprisoning roles society would impose upon them. 1996: 26) and it is not clear whether she is confessing her discovery of the “naturalness” of patriarchy. unlike Polynesta. Moreover. helped by a clever servant to outwit the old men who stand in the way of his obtaining the girl of his choice. because they know that man is an actor. In Louis Montrose’s opinion. Just as Lucentio functions in 68 English Renaissance Literature . for it takes as its model his own harangues… Yet the very nature of Kate’s performance as performance suggests that she is offering herself to Petruchio not as his servant. Plays are provocations to thought and patterns for action”. rather than live in. This kind of intrigue.

for here words. 1968: 9) There are also some other significant alterations. giving them orders and being in complete command of the situation. a colour which the Elizabethans associated with purity. she proves perfectly capable of asserting her own will. in spite of having even less individuality than the other stock characters in the play. or to take on an identity that is not their own. The motif of the lost son who is restored to his father. And she has no scruples about the deception being practiced on her father. Petruchio and Katherina have gained full knowledge of each other and trust each other. the number of Bianca’s wooers is larger with the appearance on the stage of Hortensio. In dealing with her young suitors. because in the end the husband is left in the dark about his wife’s real nature. nor any objections to her secret marriage with Lucentio. who is consistently mistaken about everything and everybody. as one of Bianca’s wooers. the father (Baptista). in order to get what they want. scheming servant. she really has the potential to become a “shrew” indulging in bawdy banter and disobeying her husband. while. the disguised Lucentio and Hortensio.” (Hibbard. He is Petruchio’s friend. the Pedant. But her gentleness and submissiveness prove not to be genuine. but to serve as a form of disguise for characters who seek to hide what they are. in some editions of the play). she appears to be the sweet and submissive daughter. but she behaves in ways that don’t match the first impressions. at the end of a difficult road. he appears. like actions. they are part of an act put on to impress the others. Then. The rest of the characters could be subdivided into two categories: the old. Katherina. what seemed to be a romantic and exciting relationship is in fact unreliable. who are tricked. for it would have been rather inappropriate in a comedy of wooing and wedding. She gets what she wants. it functions due to a number of stock characters. who seems superior even to his master (Tranio). Thus. She manipulates them so as to encourage Lucentio and discourage Hortensio. The only exception is Bianca. who. where three sets of husbands and wives are needed to give the right amount of suspense and climax to the business of the wager. as previously mentioned. even while she appears to comply with authority’s commands. the one who knows the least is Baptista. as her behaviour at the marriage banquet shows. still plays an essential part as a link between the two plots. as pointed out above. Bianca herself acts as a contrast to her sister. He contributes to the success of the last scene of all. are not intended to create something new or reveal something latent. helping the former woo Katherina. This is also the reason why “the writing employed in the tale of Bianca and her suitors should be comparatively tame and conventional. He knows very little English Renaissance Literature 69 . and the young who play tricks on the old and on one another as well. Out of the first category. People are attracted to her for her good looks and her apparently sweet nature. beauty and other desirable feminine qualities. All in all. And like any other comedy of this kind. is this time suppressed. which is essential in The Supposes. and at the same time. as her name itself suggests it: Bianca means “white” in Italian. the lover (Lucentio) and the clever. on the other hand. At the beginning. who develops along different lines. type figures who remain unchanged throughout the play and whose actions are always predictable: the Pedant (or the Merchant. In the end.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best contrast with Petruchio. the old pantaloon who feebly pursues the young girl and makes himself look foolish in his expressions of love (Gremio). the comedy of changes connected to the Bianca-Lucentio wooing plot remains to a large extent a comedy of situation that culminates in the riotous meeting between Lucentio’s real father and the supposed father.

makes no attempt to understand Katherina and is duped by Bianca’s apparently submissive behaviour. as a symbol of both moral and political disorder. his wife and Titus’s daughter.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best about his daughters. some of which drew on historical subjects provided by the classical Roman antiquity. or Gremio. The first period of creation was marked indeed by a number of attempts at writing tragedies. He is the kind of aged suitor. “the arch-manipulator. in case his father personally agreed to the marriage. he proves. he is a wealthy businessman for whom marrying his daughters means doing a fine business. the play opposes Queen Tamora. 5. to be endowed with shrewdness in as far as other matters than love are concerned. mutilation and revenge. Tragedies By far the most prolific period in terms of tragedy writing for Shakespeare was the second period of creation. 3. and the best of all was the wealthiest. That explains his promising Bianca’s hand in marriage to the one who bid more. 70 English Renaissance Literature . whereas the other servants speak in prose. By that time. Shakespeare’s first tragedy. the emperor’s brother and Titus’s son-in-law is brutally murdered. two of Titus’s sons are framed for the murder of Bassianus and executed despite all Titus’s attempts at proving their innocence and saving their life (even at the expense of his own mutilation). it was the parents’ duty to find a suitable match for their daughters. Titus Andronicus (1589). It is Tranio’s idea to change clothes and he plays excellently his part being able to quote from Ovid or Aristotle and speaking in verse. is raped and terribly mutilated by Tamora’s sons. The most obvious opposite of the previous two characters is Tranio. After all. foolish in his pretensions as a lover. drawing on that stock of proverbial wisdom. Inspired by Senecan and Ovidian sources. that is Lucentio. he might have appeared as a good father interested in assuring his daughters’ economic future in a society where they had virtually no opportunity of making a living. who has all the strings in his hands until the moment when Vincentio turns up. Gremio should be mentioned. Lavinia. Perhaps to the Elizabethan audience. There are instances when his character is remarkably sustained and when. (Hibbard. This play of incontestable excessive violence actually aims at illustrating the theme of the opposition of moral and political disorder to the unifying force of friendship and wise government in which Shakespeare seems to have taken great interest and which is perhaps best epitomised in the image of the raped and mutilated Lavinia. however. Suffering eventually transforms Titus into an equally bloody avenger who kills Tamora’s sons and feeds her a pie made of their flesh before killing her as well. Probably meant to compete with Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy. by which time Tranio’s main purpose of enabling Lucentio to marry Bianca has been achieved”. should the former default on his promise. 1968: 28) Lucentio’s dependence on him is almost complete. He is perfectly aware from the very beginning of his master’s lack of devotion to learning and he is proved right by Lucentio’s so easily falling in love with Bianca or with what he thinks Bianca is. but he is not a clown. Next to Baptista. He is equally unaware of the extent to which he is duped and unwittingly introduces his rival Lucentio into Baptista’s house. to the Roman general Titus Andronicus and to his family whose members gradually get to suffer the consequences of the Gothic queen’s revenge: Bassianus. and her villainous slave-lover Aaron the moor. moulded in the Senecan pattern a story of utmost atrocious violence.

more than any other in the English Renaissance Literature 71 . the world is pictured as full of evil forces and man as being either thoughtless. a play which. but not a tragedy proper. Though they are driven sometimes too rashly into action by their youthful passion (especially Romeo) and they seem mere toys in the ‘hands of fate’. Othello. chief among which Brutus. enlarging her power at the expense of the aristocracy and the House of Commons. is brought low because he makes a wrong moral choice” (Gavriliu. “In them. Timon of Athens. when the play was first performed. Romeo and Juliet eventually triumph over their elders who realise too late that their enmity caused the very destruction of their offspring. Antony and Cleopatra. appears as “a tragic hero who. King Lear and Macbeth). During the second period of creation. and on the subsequent civil war that opposed Brutus and the senators to Marc Antony and Octavius. In an age when censorship would have limited direct commentary on these worries. But the lovers’ sacrifice turns out at least not to have been in vain since the Montagues and the Capulets are finally reconciled. The story of a pair of “star-crossed lovers”. Macbeth. 2000: 138-139) In particular in his so-called “great tragedies” (Hamlet. By far. in particular. Brutus. 1991: 271). in spite of a noble nature and a sense of high purpose. 2000: 138) and is destroyed – like Hamlet or Othello – by his own virtues. however. in which case he blindly answers the call of elementary passions – jealousy. of a different type. Shakespeare’s plays display a significant change in tone to sadness and a dark outlook on life. This slightly optimistic ending which promises peace in Verona is actually one of the reasons why the play is considered a play of tragic conception indeed. ambition. this change in tone has found its best expression particularly in the plays that give the full measure of Shakespeare’s maturity as a playwright. Many feared that her death would plunge England into the kind of chaos that had plagued England during the fifteenth-century Wars of the Roses. King Lear. As she was then sixty-six years old. it focuses on the events that led to Julius Caesar’s assassination by the Roman senators.” (Gavriliu. 1591-1596) which. and then his meditative turn of mind paralyzes his will. Whether caused by personal disappointment or illustrative for a more widely-spread depression. well versed in ancient Greek and Roman history. it is aimed not only at revealing the ‘faces’ of love (as each character holds her/his own opinion about it) but also at praising man as an individual above family and rank. by its poetic decorations and impressive richness of figurative language. is. Shakespeare’s contemporaries. Shakespeare could nevertheless use the story of Caesar to comment on the political situation of his day. namely the tragedies: Hamlet. Shakespeare has endeavoured to translate his enhanced awareness of the complexity of human nature and to contain “something of the larger dimensions of life within the limiting formality of art” (Daiches. her reign seemed likely to end soon. announces Shakespeare’s maturation as a writer. yet she lacked any heirs (as did Julius Caesar). would very likely have detected parallels between Julius Caesar’s portrayal of the shift from republican to imperial Rome and the Elizabethan era’s trend toward consolidated monarchic power. In 1599. Queen Elizabeth I had sat on the throne for nearly forty years. The set of plays of tragic conception of the first period is rounded off by Romeo and Juliet (c. irrational love – or meditative. Julius Caesar (1599). Coriolanus. Othello. the best case in point is his Hamlet.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best The other Roman play belonging to the same first period of creation. A political tragedy. which seems to have affected the Elizabethan society at the turn of the century.

preserved in the dramatic works. 1990: 19-20) The legend appears somewhat transformed in Ur-Hamlet and there are sources which maintain that Kyd. the original murder is done secretly by poisoning. so that the wicked uncle is not publicly known as wicked and the ghost is required to reveal the truth to Hamlet. who is not a hypocrite at all. There is also an attempt to have Amleth put to death in England. while another. might have successfully incorporated in its matter some of the devices of the Senecan revenge play. Ur-Hamlet basically appears as a revenge tragedy. the original of Polonius. originating in Scandinavia as the tale of Amleth. roughly speaking. as he does in Saxo. but Kyd was a great hand at madness and kept this element in the story (indeed he added to it by making Ophelia go 72 English Renaissance Literature . The usurping uncle sends agents to try to find out whether Amleth’s idiocy is genuine: one of these agents is a girl. the story is an ancient one. and is discovered and killed by Amleth. also referred to as the Ur-Hamlet. like Thomas Nashe and Thomas Lodge. openly declares his intention of doing away with anyone who would challenge his position). One of them is the ghost – a Senecan device – crying for revenge. especially for murder). revenge!” Since Thomas Nashe includes his reference to the play in a piece of criticism regarding the work of his fellow University Wit. There are several important elements of Saxo’s version which have been. Amleth’s purpose is sheer selfpreservation. This makes it unnecessary for Hamlet to feign madness in order to save his life. (Muir and Schoenbaum. there are documents which record its being performed in different theatres outside London about 1594 and 1596. is no longer available nowadays. in the end. with only slight alterations. make reference to it and to its famous Ghost crying “Hamlet. presumably one of Amleth’s friends.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best Shakespearean creation. 1976: 216) As a matter of fact. as his uncle. in a collection of tragic stories by François de Belleforest. and. Amleth achieves his revenge. Saxo mentions Amleth’s feigning madness so that the usurping uncle would regard him as a completely mindless lunatic not worth killing. Even some of the University Wits. Thomas Kyd. furthermore. The latter also hides himself in the straw of Amleth’s mother’s room to overhear a conversation between mother and son. And. the original of Ophelia. just like Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy. Though this play. the legendary prince of Denmark. the text Shakespeare most probably based his play upon is the revenge tragedy of Hamlet. invites the reader/ spectator to embark on a stimulating exercise of interpretation in order to eventually grasp its meanings (if that is really possible). As Sydney Bolt (1990: 19) points out. (But. speculations have been made that Kyd himself might have been the author of this play. and then retold. (See Bolt. slays his wicked uncle with his own sword and becomes king. here. Case Study: Hamlet (1600-1601) The issue of the sources Shakespeare might have inspired from in writing his Hamlet has also provided Shakespearean scholarship with material for speculations. It was told. in the original legend. not openly as in Saxo. around 1200. known to have been in the possession of Shakespeare’s stage company for several years before his own tragedy was staged. by the Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus in his Latin Historia Danica. as the ‘father of the Elizabethan revenge drama’ so popular among the audiences of the time (despite the fact that the Elizabethan laws and religion strongly condemned those who took revenge.

tragic meaning on a traditional story. Shakespearean scholars belonging to different critical schools have tried to provide valid explanations in this respect. Hamlet is still mourning his father. his sister. The paucity of concrete evidence suggests that these codes rarely led to legal action. after the old king’s funeral. while the courtiers party. As the soliloquy develops. the table of consanguinity prohibits marriages with close blood ties. and grandchild).” (Daiches. The device of the play-within-the-play may have also been used. he has caused the alienation of Hamlet’s line: “King: But now. and my son – Hamlet: A little more than kin and less than kind. Scene 2) reveals. however. “to impose a new. on the other hand. Such speculations have been made on the basis of a degraded version of the lost Hamlet which exists in German. To put it otherwise.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best mad as well) though the motivation for it is now much less clear. the fact that he rather seems to be overwhelmed with rage against his mother who. Or. the representatives of New Historicism have explained Hamlet’s reaction to Gertrude’s marriage starting from two historically acknowledged aspects. and by the overtones of meaning and suggestion set up by his poetic handling of the characters’ language. by the kind of life and motivation he gave to the characters. unlike the rest of the court. merrily celebrating Queen Gertrude’s wedding with Claudius. it becomes obvious that Hamlet. King: How is it that the clouds still hang on you? English Renaissance Literature 73 . it reflects unions which might produce conflicting inheritance claims. as the words in which Claudius addresses Hamlet from the beginning indicate that. is not in a joyful mood: he stands apart. his father’s sister or his mother’s sister. His first soliloquy (Act I. however. the marriage is unlawful by Ecclesiastical canons. it deprives Hamlet of his lawful succession. offspring. Hamlet seems to settle the burden of the blame particularly on his mother’s shoulders. and introduced Laertes. What cannot be. Actually. he also killed off the hero and the other major characters in the end. and the poisoned rapier and drink. For instance. sibling. my cousin Hamlet. married another man – and not any man – but her former husband’s brother. From this point of view. (Of course.) As for the table of affinity. True to the Senecan fashion. Naturally. Hamlet’s uncle and the new king after his brother’s death. the readership/ audience realize that. but this is not the only reason for his melancholy. the marriage to a dead brother’s widow is undoubtedly considered incest. denied is that Shakespeare’s task was to rework the melodramatic Senecan revenge play Ur-Hamlet and. his daughter or the daughter of his own son or daughter. it is difficult to say how many alterations of the original legend were effected in the Ur-Hamlet (those already pinpointed are considered the most probable in the light of the more general knowledge of Thomas Kyd’s dramatic work and of the scarce documentary evidence of the existence of the play) and how many were Shakespeare’s. the fencing match. though a marriage presupposes mutual consent of the spouses. too soon. by his arrangement and presentation of the action. in the generations in which it might plausibly occur (parent. by marrying Gertrude. On the one hand. all dressed in black. since direct comparison is impossible. 1991: 268) From the very first act (scene 2). Reference should thus be made to the tables of consanguinity and affinity drawn up in England under Henry VIII. thus. Consanguinity conforms broadly to what we might expect: a man may not marry his mother. historians of the family have registered a discrepancy between general kinship rules and legislation concerning lawful and unlawful unions in particular and actual practices. Claudius.

Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best Hamlet: Not so. I am too much in the sun. Horatio – the Roman friend. 1999: 14-15 and Jones. though setting the action of the play in Denmark. That Hamlet has fundamental urges which are not visible in the course of the play is a tribute to the energy he has invested in repressing them. it is the fate of all men. it is clear that an innate desire to kill one’s father and sleep with one’s mother runs contrary to the very fabric of the society. public figures of the time: Hamlet’s figure seems to have been inspired by that of the Earl of Essex. Ophelia – the ineffectual courtly love heroine. with the royal council naming the next king. (See Jardine. If Hamlet is Claudius’s cousin (simply. old Hamlet/ young Hamlet present. But. Polonius – boring. but of great deeds. in fact. one might say that this matter of succession is. The offence is Claudius’s committed against the Hamlet line. But Freud explains the difference between what he takes to be an innate universal psychological mechanism and the accepted range of expression of civilization with the notion of repression. the explanation for Hamlet’s melancholy might be completely different. Laertes and Fortinbras – the men of few words. my lord. (See Freud. if Hamlet is Claudius’s son. (That Shakespeare’s intention was indeed to mould the Elizabethan reality in his tragedy might further find support in the parallelism that some scholars have identified between certain characters and. kin). The difference between this innate urge and the demands of the civilization is then mediated by repression and sublimation. Hamlet should be king. Other characters correspond to some stock characters of those days that could be easily identified among the aristocrats such as: Osric – the Elizabethan dandy. therefore. 74 English Renaissance Literature . then he is confirmed as line-dependent on Claudius.) (Muir and Schoenbaum. judging by the way in which Hamlet refers to his dead father in the first soliloquy and by his decision of avenging his death. the idea that he might suffer from an Oedipus complex might seem rather preposterous. to direct their first sexual impulse towards their mother and their first hatred and their first murderous wish against their father (like Oedipus who slew his father Laïus and married his mother Jocasta). according to which Hamlet. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern – the obsequious courtiers. wearing black. maintaining an elaborate spying system on both friend and foe – might have been modelled after Elizabeth’s treasurer. rather ambiguous. even after his father’s death. Either the inappropriate urges are repressed (which risks manifesting itself in psychological illness) or they are transformed into some expression which is useful to society. At a first sight. According to Freud and his followers (chief among whom Ernest Jones should be mentioned – see Hamlet and Oedipus). meddling. Most of them agree on the fact that “the Problem of Hamlet” – to use the very terms Freud himself preferred in his examining the matter – resides in his Oedipal feelings. whose rebellion failed and brought about his execution under the charge of treason on February 25th. William Cecil. Hamlet insistently keeps the direct line. which makes his uncle a usurper. perhaps. for several generations of psychoanalytic scholars. respectively. 1601. 1976: 168-179) Nevertheless. there was no actual guarantee that Hamlet and not his uncle might be elected to the throne. Shakespeare chooses to represent the matter of succession as conceived in the English society. 1996) Of course. according to the Scandinavian system. is the rightful heir. given the fact that.” (2005: 801) In his prolonged mourning. the Danish throne was an elective one. Nevertheless. as his father’s only son. given to wise old sentences and truisms.

the conclusion we reach is that Hamlet’s melancholia results from an incomplete detachment from the mother as much as from grieving for a dead father. the pre-oedipal dyad. for instance. ah fie [dung].ac. which historically marks a turning point in the social position of the mother.com/jones) And he is successful in repressing his jealousy for his father and attraction to his mother until Gertrude’s remarriage with Claudius. but it is hindered by the Ghost’s injunction to kill Claudius. The emergence of a new father explodes Hamlet’s construct.hull. like Frederic Wertham. things [male sex] rank [in heat] and gross [lewd] in nature [female sex] Possess it [sexually] merely ['merrily'. (Kristeva 1987: 25 in http://www. (Observation: Not all psychoanalysts have agreed with the idea that Hamlet’s behaviour is definitely marked by an Oedipus complex. (Crunelle-Vanrigh. repression of incestuous and parricidal drives must be carried out again. the dyad and the triad. lecherously]”. along Julia Kristeva’s lines. The suffering for the initial maternal loss is painfully re-lived and this “incomplete or unsuccessful detachment from the mother. that.htm) leads to what the Elizabethans called melancholy. is reviled and the dead father is idealized and mourned.uk/renforum/v2no2/crunelle.htm) The surface structure of the text appears to be one in which the incestuous mother. Taking further the argumentation in Freudian terms. (See the rhetoric of disgust in the first lines of the soliloquy: “How weary. the “Orestes complex” provides a more appropriate model for the action in Hamlet. the ideal state of fusion between mother and child could have been recreated. http://www. but have argued.Gertrude. refusal of food. to give vent to what he is trying to hold back. as it can be seen throughout the play.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best http://www. as a result of an initially successful repression of oedipal urges. and finally raving madness. flat [to copulate]. in modern terms maniacdepressive psychosis. (Crunelle-Vanrigh. the merger and the end of the merger. whose femininity emerges from underneath the maternal object escaping control. The death of old Hamlet prompts a “regressive reverie”. which in the light of the newly reactivated complex appears shameful. crazy behaviour.uk/renforum/v2no2/crunelle. this variety of parent complex which centres on the mother. with additional pun on 'seam': filth] to me all the uses [sexual enjoyment] of this world! Fie on't.hull. lusty and corrupted. http://www. his father’s kinsman. characterized. and more specifically on hostility toward her. by symptoms of dejection.hull. i. The legend of Orestes.ac. “Orestes killed his mother Clytemnestra and her lover. Wertham. 'tis an unweeded garden [womb] That grows [becomes pregnant] to seed [semen]. has far more similarity to the story of Hamlet than has the story of Oedipus. “Critique of Freud’s English Renaissance Literature 75 . Under the new circumstances. that is. Aegisthus.uk/renforum/v2no2/crunelle. The original parental couple Old Hamlet . Once his father dead.” in Julia Kristeva’s terms. insomnia. but the new husband figure that is Claudius interferes.ac. superseding the son. Claudius – Gertrude. fits of delirium. pure is replaced by a new one. stale [prostitute]. was conceived as perfect.” – F. which. reactivating oedipal issues.clicknotes.htm) a pre-oedipal fantasy of fusion with the mother. Its deeper layers of imagery (here including its mythological background – the references to Niobe and Hyperion) suggest a structure in which the father as male principle is by-passed and the emphasis is laid on the son as begetter.e. and unprofitable Seem [to fornicate. Hamlet’s first soliloquy thus juxtaposes the pre-oedipal and the oedipal pattern.

victimizing treatment inflicted. Coextensive with the father’s ‘dread command’ to avenge him is Hamlet’s readiness to avenge himself on his mother” (Crunelle-Vanrigh. Scene 5. 86. 2005: 817) Yet. “Hamlet the character unsuccessfully conducts (…) his battle with Symbolic collapse. Gertrude frames her reproach formally. as long as ‘the mother has not been killed off. the only alternative to asymbolia.hull. The fact has already been underlined that the appearance of the ghost does not allow for a successful repression of the oedipal urges for a second time. l. the memory of the father of the Symbolic it stands for. he fails. 21. Again.htm).edu/faculty/bierman/Elsinore/Freud/freudFirst.” (Crunelle-Vanrigh. He turns his violence towards the man behind the curtain. by education. Faber: 120 available on http://arts.e. Hamlet must make a choice on which his identity depends.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best Interpretation of Hamlet” in M. Hamlet retaliates with the more grievous offence against his deceased natural father of his mother’s remarriage to his brother. intimations of erotic possibility are almost inevitable. Performing before Polonius – an illegitimate intruder in her intimate space –. seems to be re-gaining ground.ac. the function of the ghost should also be reconsidered. his previously verbal assault is taken to the point of turning into violence and he appears to be on the verge of killing Gertrude.” (Act I.’ which is essential for individuation. Ophelia. http://www. turning matricidal intents into pseudo-parricide.ac. has been already assimilated by Hamlet. the son crosses into the enclosure of his mother’s privacy to encounter her as a sexualized object. l. presumably the king – in fact Polonius –. it is meant to constantly bring back. This might be the underlying explanation of a cruel.html). i. misogynist behaviour regardless of whether the woman is perceived to be virtuous or lascivious. Reproved for his offensive behaviour (with the familiar thou of maternal scolding).edu/~fs10/garber.’ any woman will only be rejected as an erotic object. by transference. the fact must be mentioned here that this is not the only explanation psychoanalysis has come up with as to the Hamlet – Ophelia 76 English Renaissance Literature . The upshot is that the language of public disapproval collides with that of personal hurt. 2005: 805) The Closet Scene is a key moment in the play for the understanding of Hamlet’s relationship with his mother and his striving for ‘matricide.columbia.hull. “the melancholiac cannot cope with Eros. he intrudes where customarily a woman would only entertain her husband or lover. coloured by the present reminders of maternal sexuality.” therefore he is a misogynist. embodied by Gertrude. This argument goes hand in hand with the Kristevan one in the sense that. Ernest Jones has postulated that Hamlet’s sexual repression leads to hostile. his failure in definitely separating from the mother also compromises any attempt at getting involved with another woman. which.htm) Unfortunately.uk/renforum/v2no2/crunelle. In this context. of killing off the mother. Scene 3. believing himself alone. When Hamlet responds to his mother’s summons and comes to her closet. torn between his dead father and his all-too present mother is a man to double business bound. The duty of remembering the father takes him along the paths of revenge.ucsc. The Ghost actually becomes “the place for the projection of the missing signifier” (Stetner. in the Nunnery Scene. (Act III. http://www. in a context in which the Imaginary. “Hamlet.D. a messenger of the “Law of the Father” in Lacanian terms. depression and self-destruction. in spite of the Ghost’s request to “leave her to heaven. upon Ophelia. Hamlet responds familiarly. Such complementary demands are registered in the play.htm). More of a construction of Hamlet’s psyche. For an adult son. http://www.uk/renforum/v2no2/crunelle. For once. the necessity of detaching himself from the mother takes him along that of Kristevan ‘matricide’.

Daring damnation. In the conventional revenge tragedy. is also condemned to death. by its uncontrolled sexuality. is easily dominated/ manipulated by the other two ruling male forces in her life. He tries in fact to reconcile his English Renaissance Literature 77 .ac. the brother and the lover is that. unambiguously Elizabethan. the avenger does not look for justice. understands and respects them. who. overwhelmed with the feeling of guilt (for Hamlet’s madness and her father’s death). gives up taking justice into his own hands and he will be eventually rewarded for that. he is obedient. (For further details. First of all. He also has a slain father. Scene 7 (See Appendix). like Jane Adelman. Some. Shakespeare deviation from it might be welcome under the circumstances. water. when he is recalled to order by the law. to satisfy her grief. he passes brilliantly the test of fidelity – while most of the others at the court. (http://www. her cynical father and her unperceptive brother. Hamlet’s is a case of shifting roles. At the opposite pole. see Bachelard’s comments on what he calls “the Ophelia complex. but her description –like the entire play. The Queen apparently tries to suggest that Ophelia’s drowning “in the glassy stream” (2005: 826) was an accident. the sweet girl. but for personal satisfaction. there is Fortinbras. the next part of the lecture should try to provide another possible answer to the question ‘why does Hamlet delay his revenge?’ A return to a few aspects related to the tradition of revenge tragedy and.hull. the point should be made that Hamlet is not the only avenger figure in the play. the melancholic Hamlet does not manage to clearly define his identity. Loved by his people. He is ready to take action and regain his father’s lands from Denmark. there is Hamlet. Educated at a new university (Wittenberg). As a matter of fact.htm) The result of this undeniable triple victimization by the father. based on passion. a victim of a Hamlet who projects upon her “the guilt” of feminine power threatening masculine identity – first embodied by his mother -. the Imaginary and the Symbolic. fail it – remaining faithful to the memory of his father and. he seeks their company.e. As a matter of fact. But they are all different. here including his own mother. and. hiding his discontent with their behaviour. given her obedient nature. 2005: 800) A man of noble principles. Laertes and Fortinbras. Yet. at the same time. torn apart between the two poles in his life. implicitly. he lives in a specific extant castle (Elsinore) and is a connoisseur of modern plays and modern fencing. the limits of the patriarchal values of womanhood. like Hamlet for instance. an uncle on the throne to contend with.uk/renforum/v2no2/crunelle. Ophelia goes mad and eventually commits suicide. he appears as a noble prince. a fall in fortune. In the beginning of the play.” (Act I. the mother and the father. (Bolt.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best relationship. 1990: 13-14) This is a pattern in which Laertes seems to perfectly fit.” 1995) If the previous analysis in psychoanalytical terms has provided us with more insight regarding Hamlet’s relation especially with the women in his life and has led to the conclusion that. In this intellectual milieu. he sinks to the moral level of his victim and having usurped heaven’s right to punish. In between these two extremes. ghosts are hard to believe in and Hamlet’s fellow-student Horatio speaks for both of them when he says “I might not this believe/ Without the sensible and true avouch/ Of mine own eyes. as a matter of fact – is marked by unresolved ambiguity and Shakespeare’s stylistic choices indicate voluntary drowning: Ophelia returns to ‘her element. Her death is presented by Gertrude in Act IV. breaking. Shakespeare includes three avengers: Hamlet. scene 1. have seen in Ophelia.’ i. especially by his soldiers.

he may freely express in soliloquies his inner torment resulting from the clash between two codes of values: the morality of revenge. The ‘To be or not to be’ Soliloquy (Act III. 1990: 50) In the Great Chain of Being of the Elizabethan times. in a rather medieval-like fashion. that of the avenger. one could stop at the first level of meaning and take it as ‘to live or not to live’: if life is nothing but “a sea of troubles”. the encounter with the ghost which reveals him the terrible truth about his father’s death and urges him. to prose. Ambiguity makes the soliloquy prone to different interpretations. 1990: 65) The aim of his revenge should be to punish a “murder most foul” by an equally foul one. or aporia. as Hamlet proudly reminds Horatio his father was a man .” (Bolt. on his knees in prayer. more appropriate for the noble prince. then the only possible escape seems suicide. the malcontent. as already emphasized.” (Bolt. Instead he questions the very value of any sort of movement. a man. 1990: 54-62) “As a revenger. people were free to reject their roles. reminiscent of a dark. Hamlet the malcontent chooses to wear the mask of the fool and consequently adapts his speech shifting from the blank verse. displays the painful quest for a solution to what Hamlet perceives as an insuperable deadlock.” (Bolt.. “To really ‘be’ you must be somebody. The turning point in his life is. This meaning of ‘to be’ was common intellectual currency at the time the play was written. is a proof of Hamlet acknowledging in Claudius the very embodiment of his oedipal urges (he killed his father and married his mother). which called for moral effort. “Dispassionately exploring the maze of these implications. The revenger must sink to the same level as his victim. amounts to a demand that Claudius’s death must be no less horrible. this is not the only valid meaning. Yet.” is cast a new light upon. might appear. When in private. Thus. which Hamlet recalls at the moment. whether they continued to live or not. while accepting that immobility too is painful. a refusal to inflict too good an end for Claudius: “the Ghost’s detailed account of the horrors of King Hamlet’s death.e. i. but when they did. His further development becomes puzzling. a field of “heart-ache” and of “thousand natural shocks” (2005: 812). That enables him to reject the society 78 English Renaissance Literature . the deed with the “bare bodkin” that the fear of death prevents. an active rational being – in short.” directly related to that so much wished-for “quietus. moulded in ‘stretched’ iambic pentameter (11 syllables instead of 10). What. medieval past and the dictates of his own temperament as a Renaissance philosopher and Christian. What does ‘to be or not to be’ mean? Of course. 1990: 66) The ghost is also responsible for the release of the malcontent – equally passionate and alienated. is incompatible with that of the malcontent. he ceases to be a noble prince and becomes a slave. The fear of death might prevent two kinds of incompatible actions: self-destruction or self-assertion. to take revenge. the deed with the “bare bodkin.” (Bolt. even shocking precisely because the role that he needs to assume.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best position of a noble prince with the other role which he reveals only when he is alone. Scene 1) is by far the best instrument for the exploration of the role of the malcontent. for some psychoanalysts. (…) To be involved realizing one’s essence. the ironist is not looking for the right direction. they ceased to be. from a different perspective. Its flow of thought. 1990: 51) When in public. It is a role in which he cannot take even his trusty friends into his confidence. “Quietus” may mean then pacification or the discharge of an obligation. This aspect might cast a new light on his decision not to kill Claudius when he finds him alone. (Bolt..

to create a Gertrude swearing everlasting faith” (Crunelle-Vanrigh. Acting mostly as a self-effacing. “because of the traditional association of his role with the bawdy. faithful wife. He just watches out for the opportunity which. the dumb-show that Hamlet asks to be performed. it might be Hamlet’s way of threatening the king. http://www. he may not be held responsible for what he says. Othello (16031604) “explore[s] again some of the paradoxes of good and evil and the irony of evil being bred out of innocence” but it “concentrates on a domestic issue and produces the most relentless and the saddest of [Shakespeare’s] tragedies. but he seems incapable of adapting to a life confined to the limited space of the isle of Cyprus and especially of his own bedroom. he has the Murder of Gonzago performed in front of the royal audience. which. the killer marries the queen. but she eventually falls a victim to Iago’s talent for understanding and manipulating the desires of those around him as well as for abusing their trust in him.hull. though in public. He dies an avenger.ac. Once he has accepted his role as an avenger. and it is his uneasiness in the private space that Iago exploits in stirring and then fuelling Othello’s jealousy that leads him to committing murder. after the mousetrap. then it definitely becomes obvious in the prayer scene. Othello is a skilled soldier and leader. King Lear (1605-1606) brings to the foreground an old archetypal story to illustrate the disastrous consequences of foolish confidence in the appearances and of the violent disruption in the family dynamics and the political authority. independent personality. He returns to Elsinore as the prince ready to perform his allotted task. has been often referred to as the “mousetrap. occasionally. Second in line chronologically among the great tragedies.” To get a definite confirmation of the ghost’s story about the murder. he temporarily drops his mask: when he is in the company of the actors. sooner or later. Otherwise. And if its effectiveness is not to be seen in the king’s storming out of the hall where the play was performed. 1990: 72).uk/renforum/v2no2/crunelle. as pointed out. The latter become instruments in his cat-and-mouse game with the king and their play-within-theplay. and thus of Claudius’s guilt or innocence. valuable and necessary to the Venetian state. He does no longer feel he must somehow manipulate the events. is sure to present itself. There is a crucial moment when.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best of Elsinore even while remaining within it. Hamlet regains his calm and the readiness of the soldier to die. As a fool. The king is killed. a peculiar point where the story of Gonzago’s death differs from Old Hamlet’s. In disobeying his duties as a king (he prematurely divides English Renaissance Literature 79 . A cultural and racial outsider in Venice. as a bold. The mousetrap “enables him to secure the ‘sublimatory grasp of the lost Thing’ which Kristeva describes. This has raised a lot of questions again. he is the nephew. but also. letting him know that he knows. the fool lends itself with facility to the expression of misogyny” (Bolt. but eventually redeemed by the renewal of conscience. this might be the moment of artistic triumph of the melancholiac.htm). characterizes the malcontent. but he can use his folly as a stalking-horse to expose the truth. however. but he is not the uncle.” (Daiches. From the Kristevan perspective. Furthermore. There is. 1991: 273) The devious scheming of Shakespeare’s arch-Machiavellian villain Iago that turns the Moorish general Othello against his friend and lieutenant Cassio and especially against his faithful wife Desdemona draws on man’s darkest feelings like jealousy and hatred. Desdemona dies trying to lift the ‘veil’ on Othello’s eyes and to make him see the truth.

his former ally in the civil war against the murderous senators and Rome’s emperor. causing them to fight for power) and father (he disinherits Cordelia. Expanding on the theme of misanthropy. Constant emphasis is put upon the world-shaking importance of 80 English Renaissance Literature . Antony and Cleopatra (1607-1608) presents the events that followed Caesar’s death. (His story is closely paralleled in a subplot by that of Gloucester who also misjudges reality because of his ignorance. ambition. leaving Macbeth increasingly alone. He fluctuates between fits of fevered action. bringing the play full circle: it begins with Macbeth winning on the battlefield and ends with him dying in combat. the only daughter who is indeed true to him). Octavius’s sister) and Egyptian magic embodied by Queen Cleopatra. Hence the themes of madness – in Lear’s case – and blindness – in Gloucester’s – converge to convey the same paradoxical relationship between fathers and loyal/disloyal children. having given way his kingly power. his artificial personality. and self-doubt struggle for mastery of Macbeth throughout the play. however. focusing on Marc Antony’s struggling between Roman loyalty (to Octavius Caesar. Elizabeth’s successor to the throne. He goes down fighting. he can finally return to life as a warrior. ironically. he introduces tragic chaos into both family and state. Goneril and Reagan.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best his kingdom to his eldest daughters. her powerful personality begins to disintegrate. The initial impression of Macbeth as a brave and capable warrior is complicated when he interacts with the three witches (strikingly resembling the Fates. Macbeth (1606) was Shakespeare’s shortest and bloodiest tragedy and it was probably meant as a tribute to James I Stuart. the play denounces “love of money as the root of all evil. which lurk like dark thoughts and unconscious temptations to evil). the voice of wisdom and truth meant to penetrate the king’s consciousness. and to his wife Octavia. 1991: 278): “a remarkable transformation of a stock Elizabethan dramatic character” (Daiches. deserted man who reacts violently to human injustice and parasitism and eventually comes to detest mankind. in which he plots a series of murders to secure his throne. the Fool is. In doing that. Bravery. Shakespeare turned again for inspiration to the Roman world. Shakespeare’s probably unfinished tragedy Timon of Athens (1605-1609) follows the stages of the main character’s transformation from a good-natured and generous rich Athenian into a poor. 1991: 278). Inspired by historical events mentioned in Holished’s Chronicle of Scottish History. yet unable to change anything or to oppose the destructive collision of the rival groups and the ensuing suffering and chaos. “This is one of Shakespeare’s longest plays which contains a tremendous historical spectacle encompassing the whole of the Mediterranean world from Rome to Alexandria. 2000: 147) For his last tragedies. Lear can no longer count on the artificial relationships which it produced” (Daiches. After the murder. when he seems to succumb to despair).) “Only the Fool realizes from the beginning that. As things fall apart for him at the end of the play. he seems almost relieved— with the English army at his gates. Shakespeare uses Macbeth to show the terrible effects that ambition and guilt can have on a man who lacks strength of character. These fluctuations reflect the tragic tension within Macbeth: he is at once too ambitious to allow his conscience to stop him from murdering his way to the top and too conscientious to be happy with himself as a murderer.” (Gavriliu. and moments of terrible guilt (as when Banquo’s ghost appears) and absolute pessimism (after his wife’s death. It takes Lady Macbeth’s steely sense of purpose to push him to commit the murder (Duncan) that would allow him access to the throne.

yet are ultimately subordinated in importance to the private drama of the two protagonists. all the 100% Shakespearean creations pertaining to the third period of creation may be labelled as romances. • a mixture of "civilized" and "pastoral" scenes (such as the gentry and the island residents in The Tempest). i. another term for romance is tragicomedy – Abrams. Combining elements of both comedy and tragedy (as a matter of fact. which actually reflects on the contemporary situation in England. namely the chronicle play Henry VIII (1612-1613) and the dramatization of Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale known as The Two Noble Kinsmen (1613-1614). The Winter’s Tale (1610-1611) and The Tempest (1611) – share the following features: • a redemptive plotline with a happy ending involving the re-uniting of long-separated family members.. Prince of Tyre (1606-1608). “Coriolanus is portrayed as an aristocratic politician professing humanitarian feelings for Man but despising the mob.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best the events and the principal figures. often manifesting as a Roman god (such as Jupiter in Cymbeline or Diana in Pericles). […] His failure is that of a misplaced personality.” (Gavriliu. 1999: 325). Romances Apart from the last plays which Shakespeare is said to have written in collaboration with a younger fellow-playwright John Fletcher. and is thought to have died. • a deus-ex-machina. though more mellow and profound. • magic and other fantastical elements. these plays – namely Pericles. He brings disaster on his own head and on the state through his contempt for the people and his rigidity of character. a political leader faced with the contradiction between the ideal and its misapplication. her being kidnapped by pirates and sold to a brothel in Mitylene. the political tragedy of Coriolanus (1607-1608) develops the subject of class struggle between the patricians/ the rich/ the powerful and the plebeians/ the poor/ the weak. 2000: 150) Finally. the governor. 1964: 419) Shakespeare’s first experiment in the creation of this kind of play.. Many motifs Shakespeare uses in Pericles will be further developed in the next romances: the supposedly dead wife’s resurrection theme and the discovery of the lost child which is instrumental in the reconciliation of the parents will appear in The Winter’s Tale. King Simonides’s daughter.e. but at the same time crowding numerous strange and sensational events: Pericles’s miraculous survival after the shipwreck in Pentapolis. Pericles is simple in plot.” (Gavriliu. 6. “Mask-like dancing. and her being miraculously reunited with both her father and her supposedly dead mother Thaisa (who had become a priestess in Diana’s temple). 2000: 151) 3. Marina’s ordeals caused by Dionyza’s jealousy. his marriage with Thaisa. Cymbeline (1609-1610). song and instrumental music are other theatrical features of the romance." (Halliday. her wonderful love story with Lysimachus.and the poetry is a return to the lyrical style of the early plays. while the storm causing separation and later reunion provides the background for The Tempest. 2000: 153) English Renaissance Literature 81 . • ".” (Gavriliu. Political events account for almost the entire action of the play. Marina. the popular revolt against the enclosure of great areas of agricultural land (1607). the storm in which Thaisa gives birth to their child.

Caliban. therefore the whole family is reunited. that Hermione. The Winter’s Tale introduces. Perdita lives a fairytale-like love story with king Polixenes’s son. on a story from Boccaccio’s Decameron. The English colonial project seems to be on Shakespeare’s mind throughout The Tempest. which is nonetheless put a cruel end to by Polixenes’s being against his son’s relationship with a poor shepherdess. survives to win her husband back in the final scene of explanation and reconciliation. the triumph of innocence: thus. misfortune and evil dogging her footsteps wherever she goes. Stefano. however. unlike Othello. The ship was carrying Alonso. as in the previously mentioned romance. Shakespeare seems also to have drawn on Montaigne’s essay Of the Cannibals. Perdita’s adventures counterpart those of Persephone and her mother. in a climatic moment. King of Bohemia) that his son Mamillius dies. and.” The play opens with a storm which causes a ship to sink. “The play also sounds overtones of pagan myth. just like Othello. 1991: 298) But the main theme of the play is. So. 1991: 298) “Notorious for flouting the ‘unity of time’ as well as of place with supreme confidence” (Daiches. on the other hand. Sebastian. The name of Prospero’s servantmonster. Cymbeline seems to be build upon a fairy tale pattern: “Imogen. ponders how he would rule the island on which the play is set if he were its king. seems to be an anagram or derivative of “Cannibal. the wicked stepmother. Ferdinand. 2000: 155) Case Study: The Tempest (1611) The Tempest is most likely the last play written entirely by Shakespeare.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best Drawing. the wicked Cloten pursuing her. this romance allows evil to be at least partly undone: Hermione lives and is hidden by her faithful attendant Paulina and Perdita is found and brought up by a shepherd.” (Daiches. Cymbeline’s Queen. the theme of unjustified jealousy that leads to the destruction of a once happy family: it is because of King Leontes’s wicked jealousy (he thinks his wife Hermione has an affair with his friend Polixenes. Perdita’s apparent death and prolonged disappearance parallel Persephone’s departure into the lower world at the onset of winter and her joyous reunion with her mother is like the blooming of all nature at Persephone’s return to her earth-mother. is said to be dead in prison and that his new-born daughter Perdita is lost to him. Antonio. The play does.” (Gavriliu. In the Bohemian ‘fairyland’ typical of pastoral romances. Florizel. his wife. 1991: 300). on a fragment from British history as adapted in Holinshed’s Chronicles. Demeter. having survived the shock of hearing that her husband has ordered her to be murdered and the counter shock of seeing what she thinks is the dead body of her husband. which was translated into English in 1603.” (Daiches. But. “her own banished husband turned against her by the vile trick of Iachimo. on the one hand. draw on travel literature of its time. the lovers flee to Sicily where truth is finally discovered: Perdita’s identity is revealed and. she yet takes her destiny into her own hands and. the “Snow White” theme of the apparently dead girl covered with flowers by her simple companions. Hermione is proven to be alive. as almost every character. from the lord Gonzalo to the drunk Stefano. the potion which brings apparent death but really only sends the drinker into a prolonged swoon. the princess who marries [the Roman Leonatus Posthumus] against her parents’ wishes. Gonzalo. and 82 English Renaissance Literature . and it is remarkable for being one of only two plays by Shakespeare (the other being Love’s Labor’s Lost) whose plot is entirely original.

Caliban also meets another group of survivors made up of Trinculo and Stefano. As instructed by Propero who has made a plan to get his daughter married. Alonso. imprisoned him. While Alonso laments his son’s tragic fate and Gonzalo tries to maintain his spirits high. now Prospero’s slave.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best Trinculo back from Africa to Italy after the wedding of Alonso’s daughter. the sprite Ariel. at Fernando’s violent reaction. The latter are actually the only ones to remain awake after Ariel casts a spell. the dead Sycorax’s son. after which they all set out to look for Ferdinand. He tells her that he raised the tempest that caused the ship of his enemies to wreck because he wanted to make things right with them once and for all. take his daughter. he charms him and leads him off to prison. namely that Prospero was the Duke of Milan until his brother Antonio. whom he is first afraid of and whom he takes for spirits sent by Prospero to torment him. Trinculo and Stefano give him some liquor to drink. Ariel awakes Gonzalo and the rest of the party. usurped his position. whom he had saved from the tree-trunk prison in which the former master of the island. Stirred by the invisible Ariel. therefore. in exchange for his becoming his faithful servant. unseen. Propero continues to subtly manage the issue of his daughter’s marriage: he has Ferdinand to carry wood and pretends then to fall asleep. reveals the bitter enmity between the ‘conqueror’ of the island (Prospero) and the ‘conquered’ (Caliban). Caliban gets drunk and begins to sing. so Antonio and Sebastian have to make up a ridiculous story about having drawn their swords to protect the king from lions. Afterwards. and set Stefano up as king of the island. but they are distracted by Ariel’s music and follow it. he casts a spell on his daughter to make her sleep and calls for his magical agent. Antonio. To prevent them from putting their murderous intentions into practice. Trinculo and Caliban – begin to fight and Caliban even boasts about knowing how to kill Prospero. so they can discuss freely the advantages of killing Alonso and his companions. to meet and the two instantly fall in love. The second scene introduces a quieter atmosphere with Miranda and Prospero standing on the shore of their island. Gonzalo. the witch Sycorax. twelve-years ago. the drunkards – Stefano. Gonzalo. and the three prepare to set off to find Prospero. and other miscellaneous lords. looking at the recent shipwreck. the King of Naples. To tame the frightened monster. Miranda hopes her father could help the survivors and Prospero promises to her that everything will be all right. Antonio and Sebastian make sarcastic remarks. that they managed to escape with the help of Gonzalo and that they were forced. Sebastian and Antonio are secretly observed by Prospero who sees Sebastian and Antonio plot to kill Alonso and Gonzalo English Renaissance Literature 83 . Sebastian. to settle. he is then pleased to witness the two lovers’ flirtatious games and their making the decision to get married. A quarrel between Prospero and Caliban. But the affair will not be allowed to develop too quickly so Prospero accuses Ferdinand of merely pretending to be the Prince of Naples and. Stefano thinks this a good plan. Ariel is sent then to ‘play’ with the other survivors Alonso. Ariel makes Miranda and Ferdinand. King Alonso’s son. He proposes that they kill Prospero. conspiring with Alonso. He reveals to his daughter the truth about their past. on the island with the books that are the source of his magic and power. Prospero orders Ariel to take the shape of a sea nymph and make himself invisible to all but Prospero and to separate those whom he saved from the shipwreck into small groups.

but he forgives them and reveals that Ferdinand is alive and is to marry his own daughter. will retire to Milan. and so on. Then Prospero and Ariel prepare a trap for the three drunkards (Trinculo. Pericles. A central issue of the Tempest is an exploration into the nature of theatre itself. by hanging inside it beautiful clothing. The Tempest does depend for much of its effectiveness on a wide range of special effects – sound. As You Like It. fantastic visions. special effects. the treacherous betrayal of a legitimate ruler (Richard II. As You Like It). so that at times it comes across almost as a final summary look at some very familiar material. Macbeth). Ariel then accuses the men of supplanting Prospero and says that it was for this sin that Alonso’s son. King Lear). and Caliban) whom the latter had driven near Prospero’s cell. The Tempest seems. Finally. monsters. dancing. asking them to forgive him for his wrongdoing and set him free by applauding. Prospero invites Alonso and the others to stay for the night so that he can tell them the tale of his life in the past twelve years. driven on by Prospero and Ariel. In the end. the relation between nature and 84 English Renaissance Literature . Ferdinand is accepted by Prospero as his daughter’s husbandto-be and a masque is performed by the spirits in front of the soon-to-be-wed couple. Prospero delivers an epilogue to the audience. leaving Alonso feeling vexed and guilty. He vanishes. the murderous hatred of one brother for another (Richard III. “The Exploration of the Nature of Art The Tempest is a very theatrical play. But there's more to the theatricality of the play than just its style. King Lear). the threat of a radical loss of identity (The Comedy of Errors. that is. Antonio. The Winter's Tale. a whole realm of "magic" (it may well have been written in response to the changing theatrical tastes of an audience that was requiring more theatrical effects in the presentation of dramatic productions). has been taken. Prospero. all survivors of the shipwreck are brought together: Prospero confronts Alonso. in some ways. The Winter's Tale). a feast to be set out by strangely shaped spirits. Eventually. the wooing of a young heiress in ignorance of her place in the social hierarchy (Twelfth Night. who then enter wearing their stolen clothing. King Lear). Hamlet. Prospero gives Ariel one final task—to make sure the seas are calm for the return voyage – before setting him free. At Prospero’s bidding. in fact). lighting. Cymbeline). After this. the drunkards are immediately set upon by a pack of spirits in the shape of dogs and hounds. drunken humour. the group plans to return to Italy. and Sebastian with their treachery. restored to his dukedom. Julius Caesar. it is obviously a wonderful vehicle for displaying the full resources of the theatre: dramatic action. the dream of manipulating others by means of art. something Stephen Greenblatt calls "a kind of echo chamber of Shakespearean motifs": Its story of loss and recovery and its air of wonder link it closely to the group of late plays that modern editors generally call "romances" (Pericles. Hamlet. Hamlet). When they are caught trying to steal the clothes. especially by staging miniature plays-within-plays (1 Henry IV. but it resonates as well with issues that haunted Shakespeare's imagination throughout his career: the painful necessity for a father to let his daughter go (Othello.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best and puts on. Prospero and Alonso command them to return it and to clean up Prospero’s cell. Much Ado About Nothing. with Ariel’s help. Ariel releases Caliban. to revisit many earlier Shakespearean themes and characters. music. magic. storms. the passage from court society to the wilderness and the promise of a return (A Midsummer Night's Dream. that is broken at the very last moment by a harpy (Ariel. Stefano. Trinculo and Stefano. Ferdinand. Richard II.

quite literally. What is the purpose of Prospero's experiment? He never gives us a clear statement. features an experiment by Prospero. as we shall see. Macbeth). and together they resolve to return to Italy. but when they do come close to it. even against one's own family. Before considering the purpose of Prospero's experiment. thrills her imagination. is not quite so straightforward in other approaches. The magic leads them by separate paths until they all meet in the circle drawn by Prospero in front of his cave. Two questions seem to puzzle the readership in this respect. away from the Machiavellian world of the court. in other words. it is effective only on the island. and of all the people in the play. in large part. why does he abandon it before returning to Milan? The most satisfying answer is a very obvious one: the magic does not work in Milan. The Winter's Tale). The earlier inhabitants of the island. where plotting against each other. on a magic island.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best nurture (Pericles. a world of spirits. He has not brought the Europeans to the vicinity of the island. Sycorax and Caliban. at the end of a course like this there is a natural tendency to want to link the concerns of the play with a celebration of the wonderful achievement we have been studying so far. her situation is the most transformed: she is going back to Europe a royal bride. As with As English Renaissance Literature 85 . and the sailors remain asleep. The experiment first of all breaks up their social solidarity. But there is more to this approach to the play than simply nostalgia. but it seems clear that one important element in that purpose is Miranda. leaving behind the powers of the magic associated with the island. One of the great attractions of this view of the play as a celebration of the powers of theatre is that it makes the best sense of Ariel's character. […] Prospero's Experiment The Tempest. Prospero's power depends. then why didn't he use it back in Milan to avoid having to be exiled in the first place? And the second one. the harnessing of magical powers (2 Henry VI. The first is this: If Prospero's power is so effective against his opponents as it appears to be. Stephano and Trinculo by themselves. something which. lured them into his very special realm. which arises naturally from that first one. is this: Given that Prospero is so keen on his magic and takes such delight in it and that it gives him so much power. and enchantment. on Ariel's release and willing service. and so they simply imprisoned him in the world which governs them. in the theatre. we should note how central to all his magic Ariel is. so that his daughter can take up her rightful place in society. of illusion. filled with a sense of enthusiasm and joy at the prospect of living among so many fine people in a society that. given this rich allusiveness to other plays. So. In that sense. A Midsummer Night's Dream. for they land in different groups: Ferdinand by himself. it is clear. There he removes the spell of the illusions. song. for the sake of political power is the order of the day and where. He wants to arrange things on her behalf. had no sense of how to use Ariel. if you take your mind off the political realities for very long. he has. you may find yourself in a boat with a load of books heading to an unknown exile. And Ariel is not human but a magical spirit who has been released from natural bondage (being riven up in a tree) by Prospero's book learning. Prospero's magic can only become effective in a special place. the court group. raw nature. Ariel can be seen as some imaginative power which makes the effects of the theatre (like lightning in the masts of the boat) possible. It seems that Prospero's major intention includes a recommitment to civilized life in Milan. the human family recognizes each other. through the power of illusion.

The theatre. a state in which we forgive and forget in the interests of the greater human community. It can. the ending here requires neither the death nor the punishment of any of the parties. What's very interesting about this is that Prospero learns that that is not the appropriate response. can transform our perceptions of human beings into a "brave new world. there is no sense here that any appropriate life could be based on remaining on the island when they no longer have to. The magic here brings about a total reconciliation of all levels of society from sophisticated rulers to semi-human brutes. no matter how he has lived. that is. The experiment brings them together. […] Virtue expressed in forgiveness is a higher human attribute than vengeance. Their love for each other. who at least comes to realize something of his own foolishness in resisting Prospero in favour of two drunken European low-lifes. Moreover. song. Prospero's Magic as the World of the Theatre It makes sense to see in this Shakespeare's sense of his own art – both what it can achieve and what it cannot. In considering his motives for undertaking the experiment. to loving our neighbour as ourselves. has a place in the magic circle at the end. awakens their sense of wonder at the world and at each other. he has it in his power significantly to injure the parties that treated him so badly. And he learns this central insight from Ariel. illusion. These two young people carry with them the major weight of the optimistic comic hopes of the play's resolution. can reconcile us to the joys of the human community so that we do not destroy our families in a search for righting past evils in a spirit of personal revenge or as crude assertions of our own egos. Prospero does not even mention the list of crimes against him. Prospero's world can awaken the young imagination to the wonder and joy of the human community. however. in a spirit of reconciliation. it seems clear that one great success is the marriage of Ferdinand and Miranda. we might want to argue that there's is the beginning of a similar change in the animalistic Caliban. Another success in Prospero's experiment is the change of heart which takes place in his earlier enemy Alonso. regenerate Milan. into a final acceptance of the world. help us fully to understand the central Christian commitment to charity.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best You Like It. in a very real sense. even to the point of surrendering the political power he took away so long ago. Here that change is initiated by Ariel's remarks. which is presented to us as a true love firmly under the control of their moral feelings. The theatre – that magical world of poetry. Unlike earlier plays which featured family quarrels. momentarily holding off Machiavellian deceit. takes place within Prospero himself. will. and is sending them back to Milan full of the finest hopes for the world. educate us into a better sense of ourselves. and animalistic rebellion--each person. After all. In the same way. Whether Prospero's experiment is a success or not. drunken foolishness. the very spirit of imaginative illusion. like Prospero's magic. in a sense. pleasing and threatening apparitions – can. And in the conclusion of the play. The most complex change in the play. who is not even human. He simply offers to forgive and accept what has happened to him. 86 English Renaissance Literature . Prospero's actions bring Alonso face to face with his past evil conduct and prompt him to repent and reconcile himself with Prospero." full of beauty. And no one is asking any awkward questions. we cannot escape the sense that Prospero harbors a great deal of resentment about his treatment back in Milan and is never very far from wanting to exact a harsh revenge.

Lawrence pointed out) because his idea of freedom from Prospero seems to involve becoming the slave of someone else. but is too much in the grip of his raw instincts for rape and rebellion to respond with anything other than anger to his condition. Prospero's "civilizing" arts keep him in control. H. faith that in time we will work things out. because he is not capable of being educated out of the state he was born into. who stands in opposition to Prospero's power and who is its most immediate victim? This reading would probably stress (as many productions have always done) Caliban's dangerous. not having the wit to see them for what they are. For Prospero is no sentimentalist. ambitious and potentially murderous power seekers. where competition English Renaissance Literature 87 . can achieve what is not possible in the world of Milan. then by bringing us such a reconciliation. He is an earth-animal (some intermediate form perhaps) who represents a clear and present danger. For all the potentially warm reconciliations at the end of the play. that they are going to return to Naples and Milan the same people as left it. Prospero's control of him through his magic is not only justified but necessary. has forced them to see themselves. If we see the irony here as present but not totally corrosive. And there is a good deal of discussion of just how unequivocal the celebration is at the end. On this reading of the play. because it's a Machiavellian world ruled by the realities of power and injury and there is no Ariel to serve us with the power of illusions. and love. theatre (Prospero's experiment in the play and The Tempest itself) can help to maintain our best hopes for a meaningful life. we have moved beyond tragedy. someone who will kill Prospero. Caliban might well be considered in some sense a natural slave (as D. that. Prospero's theatrical magic has brought them together. where everyone must always be on guard. Caliban is at times quite sensitive to the emotional qualities of Prospero's magic. however. anarchic violence. In the world of the Tempest. though with difficulty. just as Stephano and Trinculo are going back as stupid as when they left. But he doesn't go with the Europeans and remains on his island.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best promise. political double dealers. especially the wonderful music he hears. He recognizes the silence of Sebastian and Antonio at the end for what it is. what would we make of Caliban. an indication that they have not changed. his violence is natural to him and is not an outgrowth of the way he is treated. Does Caliban undergo any sort of significant change at the ending of the play? There's a suggestion that he has learned something from the mistakes he has made. Hence. Locked into the contingencies of history in our political and business lives. in spite of evil. So Caliban throws in his lot with two drunken Europeans. Caliban is thus not so much interested in freedom as he is in rebellion./ And seek for grace") may be a cryptic acknowledgment of some restraint. but it has had no effect on some characters (unless the staging of the end of the play conveys in non-verbal ways that the two noble would-be killers are as contrite as Alonso appears to be). it is not without its potentially sobering ironies. and excite our imaginations with the prospects of living life in the midst of our fellow human beings. […] This play seems to be saying that theatrical art. Caliban's future life has always sparked interest among certain writers. and his final comment ("I'll be wise hereafter. the magic of Prospero. the end of our story will manifest a pattern of moral significance. for there is a tradition of sequels to the Tempest in which Caliban is the central character (notably Browning's long dramatic monologue "Caliban on Setebos").

The realities of life must be encountered and dealt with as best we can. even wake people up to more important issues than their own Machiavellian urge to selfaggrandizement. overwhelmed with the wonder and delight of seeing so many finely dressed civilized Europeans cries out. Life cannot be lived out in the world of illusions. failed. One might argue that if Prospero's experiment is designed to make everyone better. Just how evident and serious should those ironies be: non-existent. as he well knows. a place which can restore us. but the political world they are returning to (where Prospero will soon die) is unchanged and will remain much the same. naive. But she is as well equipped as he can make her. for Miranda has. it can liberate and encourage youthful wonder and excitement at all the diverse richness of life. even to the point of suggesting that Prospero's experiment has. "O brave new world/ That has such people in't!" to which the more sober minded and mature Prospero comments only. for he knows that the sense of joyful and optimistic wonder which she. as mentioned above. more of a hope than a robust certainty. The theatre is. in a sense. we may easily lose this faith. the irony is sufficiently strong to introduce an ominous note into the whole proceedings. into the complexity of human life. In some productions. the irony is hardly noticeable and the celebration is thus dominant. as a young woman. And it may be. Life must be lived in the real world. "'Tis new to thee. That's why in acknowledging the most famous single line quotation from the play. as yet. and Miranda cannot thus entirely fulfill herself on the island. Prospero's sober awareness of what the silence of Sebastian and Antonio means qualifies our sense of joy by indicating that the eternal problem of human evil has not been solved or dismissed. in the last analysis. which does not always (or usually) answer to Miranda's joyous affirmation. Prospero's Farewell to the Stage The theatre metaphor also helps to explain why. at times. is carrying back to Italy is the world's best hope. It is not unusual to stage this play in such a way that the conventional comic structure of the ending is seriously undercut by the sense of sadness in Prospero. it can educate us into 88 English Renaissance Literature . The ending of this play may not be the unalloyed triumph of the comic spirit that we are tempted to see there. it can. In others. then it's a failure in large part. or a heavy reminder of what is in store back in Italy? The strength of this sobering irony at the end will determine the particular tone which governs the return. But that restoration is provisional and fragile. no sense of the evils that lurk back in the political world of the city. in Milan or in Naples. and. In them he acknowledges his earned awareness into the nature of human beings. a light shadow under the communal joy. who is returning to Milan to die. But he is not about to deliver Miranda another sermon. It may be. most important of all. in a sense.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best and deceitful self-interest hold sway. that Prospero recognizes that fact." Those four words of Prospero are wonderfully pregnant. That is something she will have to discover in her turn. She sees only the attractive exterior of her human surroundings with no sense yet of the potential deceptions within. Yes. One major interpretative decision any director of the play has to make concerns this ending. and it is not up to him to sour her youthful enthusiasm with a more complex and less affirming mature reflection. Prospero has to surrender his magical powers. one needs also to examines the four words which immediately follow: Miranda. Miranda and Ferdinand will be happily married. The world of the theatre can remind us of things we may too easily forget. delightful and educative as they can often be.

perhaps to die. But he learns from Ariel that to do this is to deny the moral value of the art. But he learns in the play to avoid the twin dangers to his experiment. when he neglected his responsibilities for the self-absorbing pleasures of his books. he has nothing left to achieve as an artist. not to even a personal score. whose major purpose is to reconcile us to ourselves and our community. he has no more work for him to do. one has to maintain a firm sense of what it is for. to exact vengeance against wrongs done in Milan through the power of his art (perhaps. having reached the zenith of his skill. It can never substitute for or conjure away the complexities of life in the community. educate us. he may become too much the showman. once again putting his art in the service of the social experiment. The second great threat which we see in this play is that Prospero may get too involved in his own wonderful capabilities. the two main threats to the value of his theatrical magic. now able to appreciate more fully what he did not understand so long ago. namely. the logic behind Prospero's surrender of his magic. Scene 1 one of the most frequently quoted passages in the play. and Ariel does not belong in Milan. and where it is most appropriate. and he is tempted to channel his personal frustrations into his art. We may carry what we learn in the world of illusion with us into life. But art is not a substitute for life. and human English Renaissance Literature 89 . a speech which has come to be called "Shakespeare's Farewell to the Stage. to learn about how to deal with the evil in the world. and it can never provide an acceptable environment for a fully realized adult life. perhaps to enjoy a different life. Having wrought what his art can bring about. The magic island is not Milan. the danger of using of his powers purely for vengeance. There's a strong sense in this play that. buying and selling. whatever the powers and wonders of the illusion. like Shakespeare. especially in the light of the wonderful speech in Act V. one gets the sense that there's a good deal of improvising going on). Of course. So he releases Ariel. including our own. it is critically illegitimate and no doubt very sentimental to link Prospero's giving up of his art with Shakespeare's decision to give up writing plays and to return to Stratford to enjoy life with his grandchildren (in fact.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best forgiveness. and it cannot alter the fundamental conditions of the human community. perhaps not entirely sure what he going to do (after all. is a master illusionist. But it can never finally solve the problem of evil. and perhaps we may be able. and reconcile us to each other. too proud of showing off his skill to attend to the final purpose of what he is doing. He has done all he can do. But it's a very tempting connection. He is going home. they may energize us. The first that should be alluded to. back to the human community. family strife. but we cannot live life as a dream. alcohol. too. what it can and cannot do. he did not give up the theatrical life immediately after writing this play). We see this in the scene in which Prospero puts on a special display of his theatrical powers for Ferdinand and Miranda--his desire to show off makes him forget that he has more important issues to attend to. This approach helps me to understand. through art. Prospero." Dreams may be the stuff of life. He launches his experiment from a mixture of motives. delight us. as Shakespeare is doing for unknown personal reasons against women in Hamlet and Lear). And it's interesting to note that it was his self-absorption in his own magic that got Prospero in trouble in the first place in Milan (as he admits). as some have argued. the proper relationship between the world governed by magic and illusion and the world in which most of us have to live most of the time--the compromised world of politics. Prospero doesn't start the play fully realizing all this.

and when we see him tormented by spirits. and Caliban. in the opening scene. The colonizers and the colonized The nearly uninhabited island presents the sense of infinite possibility to almost everyone who lands there.101–103). and Stefano immediately envisions his own reign: “Monster.ii.” and Antonio adds.ca/~johnstoi/eng366/lectures/tempest.” (Johnston. The play explores the psychological and social dynamics of power relationships from a number of contrasting angles. For instance. and so forth. While there are many representatives of the colonial impulse in the play. As he attempts to comfort Alonso.htm) Masters and Servants Nearly every scene in the play either explicitly or implicitly portrays a relationship between a figure that possesses power and a figure that is subject to that power. not aesthetically.bc.mala. All these characters envision the island as a space of freedom and unrealized potential. Caliban suggests that Stefano kill Prospero. Caliban’s mother. Life must be lived historically. the “servant” (the Boatswain) is dismissive and angry toward his “masters” (the noblemen). Sebastian replies. When Gonzalo says that there would be no commerce or work or “sovereignty” in his society. over which he would rule (II. once alone on the island. laments that he had been his own king (I. worked her magic there after she was exiled from Algeria.i. Caliban. From then on.i. an ideal place to school his daughter. Stefano particularly looks forward to taking advantage of the spirits that make “noises” on the isle. Trinculo. Stefano. The play explores the master-servant dynamic most harshly in cases in which the harmony of the relationship is threatened or disrupted. however. “The latter end of his commonwealth forgets the beginning” (II. Prospero has found it.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best beings belong in Milan with all its dangers. 1999: http://www. the generally negative relationship between Prospero and Caliban. Even as Caliban plots to kill one colonial master (Prospero) in Act III. Gonzalo imagines a utopian society on the island. Gonzalo’s fantasy thus involves him ruling the island while seeming not to rule it. as by the rebellion of a servant or the ineptitude of a master. 90 English Renaissance Literature . In Act III. Alonso and his nobles. Prospero and Ariel. scene ii. master-servant relationships like these dominate the play: Prospero and Caliban.344–345). The urge to rule and the urge to be ruled seem inextricably intertwined. they will provide music for his kingdom for free. when Prospero seeks him out merely to abuse him. such as the generally positive relationship between Prospero and Ariel.ii. scene ii. and in this he becomes a kind of parody of Prospero. scene ii. now Prospero’s slave. “yet he would be king on’t. in its isolation. whose ineptitude threatens to lead to a shipwreck in the storm. Gonzalo’s utopian vision in Act II. However. and the treachery in Alonso’s relationship to his nobles. this sympathy is made more difficult by his willingness to abase himself before Stefano in Act II. I will kill this man. The tone of the play. the nobles and Gonzalo. We might develop sympathy for him at first.148–156). the colonized have only one representative: Caliban. Sycorax. scene i is undercut by a sharp retort from the usually foolish Sebastian and Antonio. toward the hopes of the would-be colonizers is vexed at best. His daughter and I will be King and Queen—save our graces!—and Trinculo and thyself shall be my viceroys” (III. if they are to be fully human. he sets up another (Stefano).156–157).

crunt. unfinish'd. sent before my time Into this breathing world scarce half made up.g. prea timpuriu Zvârlit în lumea asta vie. And that so lamely and unfashionable That dogs bark at me as I halt by themWhy. Din aspre trâmbiţi. Purtăm pe frunţi cununi de biruinţă. Scene 1). And if King Edward be as true and just As I am subtle. paşi suavi de danţ. De-a-fundu-n suflet. Urzeli am înnodat. Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this sun of York. De răul profeţiei cum că G Vlăstarii lui Edward îi va stârpi. Explain the artistic purpose of Richard III’s soliloquy (Act I. 2. 1. Dive. Chiar astăzi Clarence intră-n colivie. PETRUCHIO. Examination Tests. Unless to spy my shadow in the sun And descant on mine own deformity. I am determined to prove a villain And hate the idle pleasures of these days. Cheated of feature by dissembling nature. Our dreadful marches to delightful measures. fraţii mei. gânduri: vine Clarence. ce nu pot să mă-nfoi Pe lâng-o nimfă legănată-n şolduri. And now. PETRUCHIO. cea mai frumoasă Kate din lume. since I cannot prove a lover To entertain these fair well-spoken days. Kate din Kate-Hall. glas de voioşie. căci ţi se spune Kate şi-atât. Brăzdatul Marte chipul şi-l descruntă. Iar norii toţi ce casa ne-o striveau Sunt îngropaţi în sânu-adânc al mării. motifs. Deci cum nu pot să fiu un curtezan. Şi-acum. KATHERINA. Pe rege şi pe Clarence. emphasising how language is deliberately exploited for effect in the lines below (Act II. ce nu-s croit pentru hârjoane Şi nici să mă răsfăţ în dulci oglinzi. thoughts. Deform'd. Our stern alarums chang'd to merry meetings. Kate! ‘neaţa. Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths. zău. Din marş de spaimă. cutră. And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house In the deep bosom of the ocean buried. Our bruised arms hung up for monuments. Plots have I laid. cel necumpănit deopotrivă. This day should Clarence closely be mew'd upAbout a prophecy which says that G Of Edward's heirs the murderer shall be.for that's your name. mistuitoare. down to my soul. Scene 1) and comment upon Shakespeare’s arts of language as illustrated in the following lines: GLOUCESTER. PETRUCHIO. Here Clarence comes. To set my brother Clarence and the King In deadly hate the one against the other. La ură să-i asmut. Mi-am pus în gând să fiu un ticălos. Give examples of a) three chronicle plays. But I-that am not shap'd for sportive tricks. Din ciunte arme am făcut trofeu. Kate. Eu. Cei cari Vorbesc de mine Katherina-mi zic. c) three tragedies. ciuntit. types of characters. for you are call'd plain Kate.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best 3. English Renaissance Literature 91 . and dreams. And therefore. Nu simt plăceri să-mi trec răgazul altfel Decât privind-mi umbra lungă-n soare Şi-amănunţindu-mi strâmbăciunea mea. Urând huzurul zilelor de azi. Kate fără de pereche. Şi dacă Edward riga-i bun şi drept Cât eu subţire. eu. Neisprăvit şi strâmb. Make then more general comments on Petruchio’s strategy of ‘taming’ Katherina and on the different illustrations of gender relations in Shakespeare’s comedy. and want love's majesty To strut before a wanton ambling nymphI-that am curtail'd of this fair proportion. Dar eu. Eu. Nici să mă-mbii la aste dulci taifasuri. Kate – aud c-aş îţi spune. and d) three romances by William Shakespeare and indicate their most prominent features (e. Da. By drunken prophecies. Şi bine auzi. Well have you heard. Nor made to court an amorous looking-glassI-that am rudely stamp'd. themes. El zburdă prin iatacuri de domniţe În freamătul molatec al lăutei. şi Kate afurisita. etc). Practical Applications. în piuitul slab al păcii. KATHERINA. prepusuri grele. GLOUCESTER. şi-ncă Aşa pocit. in this weak piping time of peace. and treacherous. I. scorneli şi vise.7. PETRUCHIO. type of discourse. în loc să sperie vrăjmaşii Încălecat pe cai împlătoşaţi. inductions dangerous. Kate. I hear. în toi de vară. but something hard of hearing: They call me Katherine that do talk of me. You lie. in faith. dar eşti cam surd. Prin bete profesii. Minţi. He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber To the lascivious pleasing of a lute. scălâmb. Voioasa Kate. libels. Prin soarele lui York. Good morrow. false. Grim-visag'd war hath smooth'd his wrinkled front. Dar. Describe Petruchio’s original method of subduing the shrewish Katherina. b) three comedies. Azi iarna vrajbei noastre s-a schimbat. instead of mounting barbed steeds To fright the souls of fearful adversaries. Have no delight to pass away the time. 3. Prădat la trup de firea necinstită. -ntortocheat. că pân’ şi câinii Mă latră când şonticăiesc pe drum.

KATHERINA. O. Kate. you wasp. Nor hast thou pleasure to be cross in talk. my super-dainty Kate. Too light for such a swain as you to catch.] PETRUCHIO. Înaltă. yet sweet as springtime flowers. with my tongue in your tail? Nay. mi s-a spus C-ai fi mojică. But slow in speech. Nay. Yet not so deeply as to thee belongs. And now I find report a very liar. Nor bite the lip. PETRUCHIO. and so farewell. if you strike again. PETRUCHIO. Nu ştie cine unde-l poartă viespea? În coadă. and thy beauty sounded. and sullen. Vai. thou canst not look askance. PETRUCHIO. sunt un gentilom. Să văd. Ce dropie! O să te ia bondarul! KATHERINA. că-ţi trag un pumn. PETRUCHIO. Should be! should. deci. Ei. and like a buzzard. PETRUCHIO. vreau să te peţesc. KATHERINA. come. KATHERINA.. grea atât cât se cuvine. ţi-am auzit Blândeţea lăudată în tot oraşul. slow-wing'd turtle. Cum te-am ghicit. for a turtle. KATHERINA. if me you mean. No such jade as you. With gentle conference. Şi-am fost mişcat şi . De nu eşti gentilom. passing courteous. the prettiest Kate in Christendom. [Îl pălmuieşte. uşoară … KATHERINA. KATHERINA.. let me see thee walk. zveltă. if you talk of tales. Cu limba mea în coada ta? Nu. Kate. ‘ţi închipui c-am să port un bou ca tine? PETRUCHIO. let me go. rea. and sweeter than the kernels. oacheşă la chip Precum aluna. dacă prostul află unde este. De unde-au scos că şchiopătezi? O. dacă sun viespe. KATHERINA. And if no gentleman. Kate. Whose tongue? KATHERINA. nu caţi ponciş. you are too angry. Ay. Măgarul e pentru cărat – ca tine. I am a gentleman. For thou art pleasant. Alas. Come. I chafe you. Come. Ascultă-n felul astă n-ai să scapi. PETRUCHIO. best beware my sting. Mult prea uşoară spre-a mă prinde-un urs. and sometimes Kate the curst. and so are you. So may you lose your arms. Poruncă. m-ascultă. Fereşte-te de ac. uricioasă. Virtuţile-amintite. Mov'd! in good time! Let him that mov'd you hither Remove you hence. Kate! Ce dulce-mi pari! Ştii. Good Kate. PETRUCHIO. if the fool could find it where it lies. haide. and so are you. 'Twas told me you were rough. KATHERINA. Un scaun. sit on me. good Kate. la vorbă-nceată. De bârfitori ! Tu eşti smicea de-alun. KATHERINA. Kate. […] PETRUCHIO. But thou with mildness entertain'st thy wooers.. And yet as heavy as my weight should be. Şi totuşi. If I be waspish. KATHERINA. nu faci Ca bosumflatele ce-şi muşcă buza Şi nici nu-ţi place vorba s-o întorci. Cât se cuvine – bâzz! KATHERINA. KATHERINA. I knew you at the first You were a moveable. PETRUCHIO. as he takes a buzzard. Femeia e pentru purtat – ca tine. PETRUCHIO. Why. cu bine. [She strikes him] PETRUCHIO. what's a moveable? KATHERINA.. What. viespe. I find you passing gentle. I swear I'll cuff you. O. hear you. KATHERINA. PETRUCHIO. PETRUCHIO. Kate of my consolationHearing thy mildness prais'd in every town. as angry wenches will. sprintenă. Vezi să nu-ţi pierzi blazonul. Te-ntoarce. căci dacă stau te supăr. I will not burden thee! For. Bun. A join'd-stool. you scape not so. No. mângâierea mea. KATHERINA. Aşi. Aşează-te pe mine. [. nu vreau să te împovărez! Ştiindu-te eu tânără. PETRUCHIO. PETRUCHIO. haide. Ia să te văd cum mergi – nu şchipătezi.. Tu nu te-ncrunţi. Da. Kate. PETRUCHIO. gamesome. shall a buzzard take thee? KATHERINA. Thou dost not halt. KATHERINA. KATHERINA. n-ai nici blazon. Take this of me. dacă pălăvrăgeşti. Primeşti frumos pe cei ce te peţesc. prieteneşti. Kate of Kate Hall.. Voioasă. dulci. lume.buzz! KATHERINA. KATHERINA. Yours. PETRUCHIO. Thou hast hit it. and as brown in hue As hazel-nuts. nu mai eşti gentilom. Ay. KATHERINA. În limbă. Adică? KATHERINA. A ta. tontule. and therefore. My remedy is then to pluck it out. Limba cui? KATHERINA. Thy virtues spoke of. PETRUCHIO. Thou canst not frown. Mişcat! Halal! Cin’ te-a mişcat încoace Te mişte de aici. KATHERINA. and coy. PETRUCHIO. Dar gingaşă ca o floare-a primăverii. Kate. PETRUCHIO. you are no gentleman. KATHERINA. Kate.] PETRUCHIO. Cu vorbe blânde. mă jur. să dai la slugi! 92 English Renaissance Literature . Dacă mă loveşti. come again. if I tarry. not a whit. Mai bine plec. But. Grozav bondar! PETRUCHIO. Drept dropie… Şi ea va lua bondarul! PETRUCHIO. Who knows not where a wasp does wear his sting? In his tail. i' faith. PETRUCHIO. Cum minte gura lumii! Eşti plăcută. dulce miezul ei. For dainties are all Kates. prea eşti rea. frumuseţea Cântată. PETRUCHIO. PETRUCHIO.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best And bonny Kate. Why does the world report that Kate doth limp? O sland'rous world! Kate like the hazel-twig Is straight and slender. Cum te-am văzut. That I'll try. Myself am mov'd to woo thee for my wife. Dacă mai dai. KATHERINA. Well ta'en. Women are made to bear. In his tongue. soft and affable. why then no arms.in sooth. Asses are made to bear. Căci tot ce-i bun e Kate. Atunci să-l scoatem – ăsta-i leacul meu. chiar de nu pe-atât cât meriţi. If you strike me. knowing thee to be but young and lightKATHERINA. Eşti mişcător.

there’s the rub. Must give us pause: there’s the respect That makes calamity of so long life. Când însuşi ar putea să-şi facă seama Doar cu-n pumnal ? Cine-ar răbda poverii. Am I not wise? KATHERINA. vrei nu vrei. Kate. in thy bed. dispreţul omului trufaş. Măiastre vorbe! Unde le-ai deprins? PETRUCHIO. And therefore. PETRUCHIO. este-o încheiere Cucernic de râvnit. The oppressor’s wrong. and whom thou keep'st command. whereby I see thy beauty. For in that sleep of death what dreams may come. cu mersu-ţi de prinţesă? O. or not to be: that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. and let her be Kate. Să mori. eu tot te iau. de unde nimeni Nu se întoarce ne-ncâlceşte vrerea Şi mai degrab’ răbdăm aceste rele Decât zburăm spre alte neştiute. Thou must be married to no man but me. Did ever Dian so become a grove As Kate this chamber with her princely gait? O. Scena 1): HAMLET: To be. Scene 1). Comment on the following excerpt from The Tempest (Act V. Sau fierul să-l ridici asupra mării De griji – şi să le curmi ? Să mori : să dormi . zăbava legii. Kate. The pangs of despised love. To die. The insolence of office and the spurns That patient merit of the unworthy takes. PETRUCHIO. puzzles the will And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of? Thus conscience does make cowards of us all. 5. For who would bear the whips and scorns of time. the proud man’s contumely. Ba! Du-te şi te culcă. And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep. Iar marile. Kate castă şi Diana jucăuşă! KATHERINA. scârba Ce-o svârlu cei nevrednici celor vrednici.aceasta-al morţii Când hoitu-i lepădat? De-aceea-i lungă Năpasta. setting all this chat aside. PETRUCHIO. by this light. so I mean. înaltele avânturi De-aceea îşi întoarnă strâmb şuvoiul Şi numele de faptă-l pierd. Deşteaptă mamă! Ce noroc pe fiu! PETRUCHIO. mai ştii ? Aici e greu. Păi. I am a husband for your turn. Nu-s înţelept? KATHERINA. When we have shuffled off this mortal coil. from my mother wit. Aşa că. Neobrăzarea cârmuirii. A witty mother! witless else her son. Să dormi – visând. Go. Now. It is extempore. tatăl tău s-a învoit Să-mi fii nevastă. PETRUCHIO. that law’s delay. călcâiul Tiran. ‘tis a consummation Devoutly to be wish’d. Marry. Thus in plain terms: your father hath consented That you shall be my wife your dowry greed on. For. Comment upon the malcontent’s dilemma and inner conflict. And then let Kate be chaste. Căci se cuvine-a cugeta : ce vise Pot răsări în somnu. The undiscover’d country from whose bourn No traveler returns. Kate. ce mai tura vura – spun deschis: Iubito. Gemând şi asudând sub gruel vieţii. Thy beauty that doth make me like thee well. Cât teama în ceva de după moarte. KATHERINA. And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought. 4. Chinul iubirii-n van. When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear. în patul tău – chiar asta vreau. keep you warm. showing how Prospero functions as an ‘instrument’ in exploring the nature of English Renaissance Literature 93 . să dormi. PETRUCHIO. nill you. Where did you study all this goodly speech? PETRUCHIO. And will you. Dar. A-mpodobit cândva Diana crângul Ca tu ăst loc. fie Kate Diana şi ea Kate. ay. and by a sleep to say we end The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to. exploring the following lines from Hamlet’s soliloquy (Act III. To sleep: perchance to dream. And bring you from a wild Kate to a Kate Conformable as other household Kates. Atât : şi printr-un somn să curmi durerea Din inimă şi droaia de izbelişti Ce-s date cărnii.Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best KATHERINA. No more. I will marry you. sweet Katherine. be thou Dian. mi-au venit – de la măicuţa minte… KATHERINA. Altfel cine-ar mai răbda A’lumii bice şi ocări. and Dian sportful! KATHERINA. And enterprises of great pitch and moment With this regard their currents turn awry. For I am he am born to tame you. fool. HAMLET: Fiinţă – nefiinţă: ce s-alegi? Mai vrednic oare e să rabzi în cuget A’ vitregiei praştii şi săgeţi. To grunt and sweat under a weary life. Astfel mişei pe toţi ne face gândul: Şi-astfel al hotărârii proaspăt chip Se gălbejeşte-n umbra cugetării. Or to take arms against a sea of troubles. Tărâmul neaflat. zestrea-i hotărâtă. to sleep. And lose the name of action. Yes. But that the dread of something after death. Da.

Section 3: William Shakespeare or Elizabethan Drama at Its Best dramatic art, in revealing the beauty of the world of the stage, while also voicing Shakespeare’s farewell to it:
PROSPERO: Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves, And ye that on the sands with printless foot Do chase the ebbing Neptune and do fly him When he comes back; you demi-puppets that By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make, Whereof the ewe not bites, and you whose pastime Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid, Weak masters though ye be, I have bedimm’d The noontide sun, call’d forth the mutinous winds, And ’twixt the green sea and the azured vault Set roaring war: to the dread rattling thunder Have I given fire and rifted Jove’s stout oak With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory Have I made shake and by the spurs pluck’d up The pine and cedar: graves at my command Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let ’em forth By my so potent art. But this rough magic I here abjure, and, when I have required Some heavenly music, which even now I do, To work mine end upon their senses that This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff, Bury it certain fathoms in the earth, And deeper than did ever plummet sound I’ll drown my book. PROSPERO: Voi, silfi din măguri, râuri, bălţi şi crânguri, Şi voi, cari, fără urme de nisip, Goniţi după Neptun când e-n reflux Şi o zbughiţi din faţa-i; voi, păpuşi Sădind, pe lună, brazde verzi şi acre Din cari nu pasc mioare; voi, ce-n joacă, În crucea nopţii scoateţi hribi, râzând Când sună-a nopţii stingere; prin voi, Puteri plăpânde, soarele de-amiază L-am stins, am slobozit turbatul vânt Şi marea verde-am încleştat cu-azurul. Aprins-am tunetul temut şi surd, Crăpând stejarul mândru a lui Joe Chiar cu săgeata lui; din temelii Clintit-am promontorii; pini şi cedri Am smuls din rădăcini; la glasul meu, Mormintele i-au deşteptat pe morţi Şi s-au căscat şi i-au lăsat să iasă Prin arta-mi şi vârtutea ei. Ci, iată, Mă lepăd de magia asta aspră; Iar dupa ce-am să cer un cânt din slăvi – Şi-l cer acum – ca să-mi sfârşesc lucrarea Asupra simţurilor lor, căci vraja E pentru ei, bagheta am s-o frâng, S-o-ngrop la câţiva stânjeni în pământ, Iar cartea mai afund am s-o înec Decât s-a-ncumetat vreodată plumbul.


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