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The Jacobean Age The Civil War and The Puritan Age

(1603-1660)

The Jacobean Age:

1: The great Queen (Elizabeth) died in 1603, after a glorious reign. She was
succeeded by James I, distantly related to her. The reign of James I ( in Latin called
Jacobus), following the Elizabethan Age, is popularly known as the Jacobean Age.
2: Jacobean period kept up the high literary tradition of its immediate
predecessor(replaced by something else). It was also the period of Shakespeare
later and last plays as also the plays of a good many of his big
contemporaries(existing, occurring, or living at the same time; belonging to the
same time) and prominent(particularly noticeable) successors(a person or thing that
succeeds or follows), like Ben Jonson, George Chapman, Beaumont and Fletcher,
Middleton, Haywood, Webster, Tourneur, Massinger and Shirley.
3: This age presents a galaxy of great poets like Milton, Donne, Drummond, Drayton
and so on. The prose master, like Bacon, Burton, Donne (with his sermons) as also
the Authorized Version of the Holy Bible, published at the personal initiative of King
James I, also belong to this age.
4: The period of James I is actually meant by the term Jacobean. But factually, in
the first place, two ages-Elizabethan and Jacobean- are found to overlap and mingle
up in the matter of literature. In the second place, the literature of the Jacobean
period ran to the phases that followed- Charles Is rule and the Civil War, followed
by the establishment of the Puritan Parliamentary authority till the restoration of
monarchy in 1660.
5: The ascension(The act or process of ascending) of James I to the English throne
in 1603 marked an era of social and philosophical transition(change) that was
reflected in the increasingly dark and ambiguous(open to or having several possible
meanings or interpretations) drama of the period.
6: Christian humanist conception of the universe prevailed(exist everywhere or
generally) during the Elizabethan age, the scientific movement of the seventeenth
century cast doubt upon earlier views of the cosmos(the world or universe regarded
as an orderly, harmonious system) as a highly moral environment governed by God.
7: The transition between the Elizabethan and Jacobean ages was reflected in
drama in varying degrees. With the exception of such late tragedies as Antony and

Cleopatra and Coriolanus, Shakespeare, for example, is generally associated with


the Elizabethan sensibility.
8: The works of several of Shakespeare's noted Jacobean contemporaries including
Webster and Middleton, however, depart from the Elizabethan sense of moral order
through depictions(representation in image form) of corruption and violence that do
not suggest divine retribution(something given according to merits or deserts,
especially for evil) and the ultimate triumph(victory) of good.
9: Critics do not consider Jacobean drama to be amoral, however: many of the
tragedies seek to affirm human dignity and honor in the face of suffering and
injustice. Irving Ribner described Jacobean tragedy as the search "to find a basis for
morality in a world in which the traditional bases no longer seem to have validity.
10: During the Jacobean period were masques(a dramatic composition for such
entertainment), which became highly fashionable in the court of King James.
Predominantly written by the poet and dramatist Ben Jonson, the Jacobean masques
are noted for lavish set designs and musical scores provided by the major artists
and musicians of the period.
11: When the continent was racked(a framework of bars, wires, on which articles
are arranged or deposited) with religious rivalries(enemity) and strives(a quarrel,
struggle, or clash), England passed through an undisturbed period, free from
problem and religious explosions under Queen Elizabeths wise rule. By the end of
her reign, the English people in general readily accepted he state-made Church, free
from either Catholicism or handled well by efficient administration.
12: Situation started to change after the death of the august Queen. The next royal
authority James I had some hidden sympathy for the Catholics, but somehow
followed the neutral religious policy of Queen Elizabeth. Naturally, religious
freedom, humanistic tradition and literary affluences(abundance of money,
property, and other material goods) continued, though not as sweepingly as in the
Queens grand rule.
13: The situation very unfavorably changed with the ascension of Charles I. Charles
I was somewhat opposite to his father and lacked the royal wisdom that alone could
preserve power and achieve prosperity.
14: The Tudor despotism(absolute power or control) was a novel policy and based
on the skillful parliamentary management by sovereign power with a
conciliatory(tending to win or gain) policy of live and let live. Charles, however, tried
to go beyond and tramped(to tread or walk with a firm, heavy, resounding step)
down Parliament. As a result, a sort of Civil War stared in England.
15: Parliament, at that time was constituted of the intellectual gentlemen of high
morals. They were, in the main, under the influence of Puritanism(people with

extreme strictness in moral or religious matters, often to excess; rigid austerity).


The hostility between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians, mainly Puritans,
brought about the deposition of the King.
16: The Puritans had the supreme command on all matters, religious as well as
literary and cultural. There was the abrupt(sudden or unexpected) end of the
romantic tradition of the Elizabethan age and the imposition(an unusual or
extaordinary requirement or task) of Puritan austerity was inevitable(unable to be
avoided).
Literature of The Jacobean Age

1: Jacobean literature was yet fresh and lively with Elizabethan inspirations. In the
realm of drama, Shakespeare had a number of worthy contemporaries and
successors, pursing artistically their craft. Of course, there was a decline in dramatic
sphere.
2: The University Wits and the Elizabethan Lyricists were no more but they were
replaced, not very unworthily perhaps, by the poets, like Donne and Drummond,
and the prose masters, like Bacon and the makers of the Authorized Version of the
Holy Bible.
3: Literature was marked, though a potential change was evident, coming, perhaps
slowly, but definitely firmly. A new literary world for England was about to dawn.
4: The Civil War and the rigours of the Puritans rule seemed to cut off English
literature from its great tradition- from the traditional vitality and variety of English
literature. But it was a gloom before a sparkle to flash with the restoration of
monarchy.