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universities who moulded the medieval forms of drama into the pattern of their classical education. Most of them seem to have had a taste for dissolute living and encountered untimely deaths. Some of them had a great contempt for unlettered competitors like Shakespeare. In the hands of these wild but gifted writers, the play of human passion and action was expressed for the first time with true dramatic effect. They paved the way for Shakespeare who was to carry the Elizabethan drama to perfection. The University Wits: John Lyly John Lyly (1554-1606) Life: closely connected with the aristocratic circles; born in Kent, brought up in Canterbury; studies: King’s School; MA at the University of Oxford; He sought promotion at the court, but his influence decline after 1589. Three times an MP; After 1590 – retired in Yorkshire at the Mexborough house of his wife Beatrice Browne (whom he married in 1583). Work: the ‘novel’ (prose romance) Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit (1578) and its sequel Euphues and His England (1580) → the most fashionable writer for a decade – the EUPHUISTIC style: sententiousness, preference for moral maximes, overabundant use of comparison by simile, allusion to classical/ mythological figures, syntactic parallelism through balance and antithesis, elaborate pattern of alliteration and assonance. The University Wits: John Lyly “There dwelt in Athens a young gentleman of great patrimony, and of so comely a personage, that it was doubted whether he were more bound to Nature for the lineaments of his person, or to Fortune for the increase of his possessions. But Nature impatient of comparisons, and as it were disdaining a companion or copartner in her working, added to this comeliness of his body such a sharp capacity of mind, that not only she proved Fortune counterfeit, but was half of that opinion that she herself was only current. This young gallant, of more wit than wealth, and yet of more wealth than wisdom, seeing himself inferior to none in pleasant conceits, thought himself superior to all in honest conditions, insomuch that he deemed himself so apt to all things, that he gave himself almost to nothing, but practicing of those things commonly which are incident to these sharp wits, fine phrases, smooth quipping, merry taunting, using jesting without mean, and abusing mirth without measure. As therefore the sweetest rose hath his prickle, the finest velvet his brack, the fairest flower his bran, so the sharpest wit hath his wanton will, and the holiest head his wicked way. And true it is that some men write and most men believe, that in all perfect shapes, a blemish bringeth rather a liking every way to the eyes, than a loathing any way to the mind. Venus had her mole in her cheek which made her more amiable: Helen her
Work: pageants (= spectacular processions/ plays presenting tableaux and including songs. Moth in Love’s Labour’s Lost. the ethereal fairies. The Old Wives’ Tale (written about 1589. plays: The Arraignment of Paris (written 1581. Shakespeare: the above mentioned theatrical devices and the euphuistic style (e. The University Wits: George Peele George Peele (1557-1596) Life: BA and MA in Oxford. Euphues: the Anatomy of Wit) The University Wits: John Lyly Plays: Comedies based on the theme of courtly love. the whetstone of love. Edward I (1593). dances and dramatic scenes →very close to the masque). devices introduced: girls disguised as boys.scar on her chin which Paris called cos amoris. Innovations: . Mother Bombie (1594) . printed 1595).” (J. Polonius in Hamlet ). printed 1599). The Love of King David and fair Bethsabe (written ca. set against a classical/ mythological background: Campaspe (1584). the Man in the Moon (1591) . indebted to the Latin comedy through such characters as: the crafty servant. Influence on W. or vice overcast with some virtue. The University Wits: John Lyly Features: most of them written in prose (except for The Woman in the Moon). Aristippus his wart. Lycurgus his wen: So likewise in the disposition of the mind. Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado about Nothing. living a dissolute life in London. which is why he was turned out of his father’s dwellings. The Woman in the Moon (1597) . either virtue is overshadowed with some vice. 1588. Love's Metamorphosis (1601) . the duped parent. Endymion. the braggart soldier. Midas (1592) . exquisite effects of song and music. Sappho and Phao (1584). Lyly. Gallathea (1592).g. for children’s companies and addressing basically the courtly audience. the lovesick youth. occasional or miscellaneous verse. printed 1584).
Germany.e. high spirits and optimism. is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country. freshness. an “atheistic” pamphlet) together with his friend and former co-tenant Christopher Marlowe → imprisoned tortured on suspicion of spreading heresy and atheism → eventually released. 1578-1583: travelling very extensively abroad. The Two Gentlemen of Verona ascribed to Greene. the enchanted “never-never” land. 1583 . The Scottish History of James the Fourth (1598) → introducing for the first time Oberon. thus benefiting from excellent classical training (Virgil and Seneca). visiting France. embarking on a dissolute life in London as well as on prose and poetry writing until his death. allegedly the author of George-a-Greene. studies: the Merchant Taylors’ School (Edmund Spenser also attended this school at the same time). imitating Christopher Marlowe in his dramatic productions. king of the fairies on the English stage. that with his Tiger's heart wrapped in a Player’s hide. The Comedy of Errors.” The University Wits: Thomas Kyd Thomas Kyd (1558-1594) Life: born in London in a prosperous middle-class family.Peele – the founder of the Elizabethan romantic comedy. persecution by the Queen’s secret agents who searched his house in 1593 on suspicion of his taking an active part in spreading anti-governmental material (i. Poland and Denmark. The University Wits: Robert Greene Robert Greene (1560-1592) Life: BA and MA in Cambridge.already writing for the stage. beautified with our feathers. supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes Factotum. the Pinner of Wakefield (written 1588) .“the most important expression of the democratic trends in the drama of English humanism. ↓ influencing W.” The University Wits: Robert Greene passages from Henry VI. Work: the first professional reference to Shakespeare in A Groats-worth of Wit Bought with a Million of Repentance: “an upstart Crow. Shakespeare. remote from reality. but he soon died in utter poverty. Work: The Spanish Tragedy or Hieronimo Is Mad Again! (1586) plays attributed to him: . Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay (1594). plays: The History of Orlando Furioso (1594). an apprentice in his father’s trade and a translator.
his grief is not relieved. the Viceroy of Portugal. inherited largely from the Anglo-Saxon and Danish influences on English culture. the clearest example of this may be her participation in Hieronimo's revenge playlet. and her uncle.). BelImperia. The University Wits: Thomas Kyd Main characters: Bel-Imperia: an unfortunate young woman: she falls in love with both Andrea and Horatio shortly before they die. she is the object of Balthazar’s affection. the top judge for any legal matters concerning the Spanish king or his estate. Hieronimo. Pedringano. 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 → the decision of seeking revenge in a Machiavellian. the background . but not a weak woman: she displays her rhetorical ability in stichomythia (line-by-line exchanges) and she has the necessary strength of will to act on her desires and motivations. Isabella. deceitful manner (the play-within-the-play: Hieronimo’s revenge is seen less as a violent. Serberine. the Duke of Castile. she is forced by both her father. there was a conflict between the old custom of seeking private revenge for wrongs done to one’s family. how to reconcile his duties as a judge with his inability to find justice for his son. where to seek revenge against murderers with far more influence over the king than he. I will repay”.the conflict between the Spanish and the Portuguese in 1580 → the strong anti-Spanish sentiment. justice and revenge. the Duke of Castille. she has the misfortune to have an evil brother in Lorenzo.whether to end his misery by suicide instead of waiting to seek revenge. Arden of Feversham. Old Hamlet) . Psychological complexity . that is why he ultimately prefers death. Though his revenge is successful. characters: Don Andrea. “Vengeance is mine. Balthazar. sayeth the lord. the spirit of Revenge. whether to leave revenge to God once his legal means are exhausted.e. when Balthazar is the very man who murdered her beloved Andrea and then went on to murder her beloved Horatio. The University Wits: Thomas Kyd The Spanish Tragedy or Hieronimo Is Mad Again! (1586) WHY? the revenge theme – very popular among the Elizabethans.Ur-Hamlet (i. he links thus two of the play’s key themes. Horatio. The University Wits: Thomas Kyd . Lorenzo. Soliman and Perseda. the King of Spain— the two most powerful men in the country—to wed this very same Balthazar. as well as from the Christian injunction of Vindicta mihi. The University Wits: Thomas Kyd Main characters: Hieronimo – the avenger. evil act than as a creative way to find justice in an unjust society. Actually. Torn apart between his violent urges of a grieving father whose son was brutally murdered and his responsibility as the Knight-Marshal.
Pedringano’s belief that a pardon is contained inside the box Lorenzo has sent him. using that protagonist's inherent moral weakness. Yet. Love and Memory: revenge = an expression of love. many of the initially antithetical characters at times seem very similar to each other: e.g. and respectively. playing on their moral weakness as well as their lack of knowledge. The key difference between Vice and the Machiavellian villain: the former is supernatural. duplicity. (See also the symbol of the bloody handkerchief = the memory of the dead son + the desire to revenge his death) Appearance versus Reality: Kyd uses dramatic irony throughout the play to drive a wedge between the world as his main characters see it and the world as it actually is. It is the sane and happy who are truly disconnected from reality. Lorenzo and Hieronimo at the end of the play. Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello. use of violence and fear. has weaknesses and can be manipulated. of man’s inability to penetrate appearances. Antithesis and Irony: Both rhetorically and in terms of characterization. Meta-Theatre: The introduction (twice) of the meta-theatre in the play serves to make the relationship between the play-world and the real world ambiguous. 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. Barabas in Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta) = combining the Elizabethan misinterpretation of Niccolo Machiavelli’s political philosophy (focused on the picture of a political ruler who uses manipulation over persuasion and fear over love to ensure the loyalty of his subjects) and the traditional Vice figure in English literature. Machiavelli = evil. therefore. The University Wits: Thomas Kyd Major themes: Revenge and Justice: 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 BelImperia’s offer of help as a sign that Heaven favours his decision. → madness = a manifestation of the desire to escape from a horrible reality. Vice features: use of verbal cleverness to lead a protagonist into sin. the box = a symbol of a more fundamental and general limitation on human knowledge.Main characters: Lorenzo: the Machiavellian villain (other examples of such characters in Elizabethan drama: Richard III of Gloucester in Shakespeare’s Richard III.g. Isabella – inward destruction and suicide. Lorenzo’s accepting to take part in Hieronimo’s play. interpreting the failure to revenge one’s loved one as a lack of love. Furthermore. Kyd loves opposites: Lorenzo/Hieronimo. Hieronimo → an agent of the divine vengeance. Horatio/ Lorenzo. the latter is human and. Bel-Imperia and Hieronimo make the most explicit connection between the two. E. Machiavellism: In Elizabethan England. to lead the people around him to injustice. Vengeance becomes then an assertion that the loved one is not forgotten. The University Wits: Thomas Kyd Major themes: Madness: Hieronimo – outward destruction and bloody revenge. unable to see the pervasive evil that surrounds them. .
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