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View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis The first edition of this book formed the basis of the modern approach to Elizabethan poetic drama as a performing art, an approach pursued in subsequent volumes by Professor Bradbrook.
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As John Addington Symonds notes in his essay "Theatres, Playwrights, Actors, and Playgoers," "The voices of preachers and Puritan pamphleteers were daily raised against playhouses. The bubonic plague, or Black Death , which had begun in southern Europe, originally made its way to England around Although this was well before the Elizabethan era, the effects of the plague continued to be felt for centuries.
Plague broke out frequently, and London was visited by the dreaded disease in , —, , —, and During the outbreak of , over 30, people died.
Deception in Shakespeare's Works: Play Themes
The plague was so deadly because of the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in the city of London. Fleas carried by rats spread the plague, and the overcrowded conditions provided ample breeding grounds and hosts for the disease-carrying insects. These conditions also caused the disease to spread quickly once someone had been infected. The term "plague-sore," an insult that can be found in the drama of the time, is a reference to the visible sores that would cover people's bodies once they had contracted bubonic plague. Actors were subject to the same laws as vagrants and were in danger of arrest if they could not prove that they had a permanent residence.
In order to avoid persecution, they sought a noble patron to support and promote them. They became servants of the nobleman, thus providing him more prestige. In return, the nobleman would protect them if they got into trouble. He did not pay them regular wages or allowances, however. In , noble patronage became very significant because of a law that allowed only registered servants of a nobleman to go on tour.
Since touring was one of the main sources of income for theater troupes, it was necessary for the actors to gain patronage to survive financially. Niccolo Machiavelli , a sixteenth-century Italian philosopher, was famous for the political theories put forth in his book, The Prince. Machiavelli believed in man's capacity for determining his.
Today: Names are spelled consistently, and, for legal purposes, each person's signature is consistent as well. Today: Most plays are performed indoors in the evening. They are illuminated by electric lighting. Today: Thousands of sophisticated surgical techniques are available that have been proven safe and effective. Today: There are sophisticated urban sanitation systems that handle waste and purify water. These systems maintain the cleanliness of cities and help to prevent the spread of disease. The Prince is considered by some to be a manual of tyrants, whereas others claim that Machiavelli was just describing the world as it is rather than teaching people how the world should be.
Machiavelli's work was known throughout England, and his ideas inspired several Elizabethan playwrights.
Christopher Marlowe's The Jew of Malta has been described as a work of Machiavellian policy, and the ghost of Machiavelli actually appears at the opening of the play. She was a devout Catholic and gained the nickname "Bloody Mary" for her attempts to suppress Protestantism by executing many of its leading adherents.
During Mary's reign, Elizabeth concealed the fact that she was Protestant, but when she ascended the throne, Elizabeth restored Protestantism to England. She was not so vicious a queen as her half-sister had been, however. As Dick Riley and Pam McAllister relate in The Bedside, Bathtub and Armchair Companion to Shakespeare , "As queen, Elizabeth fined Catholics who refused to attend services of the official church, but there was no widespread persecution of those who clung to the old faith, and Elizabeth tried to ensure that services and prayers were conducted in a way that both Catholics and Protestants could in good conscience attend.
Attending the theater was an extremely popular pastime during the Elizabethan era. The theater was able to flourish during the sixteenth century partly because Queen Elizabeth herself was a supporter of the arts. She enjoyed attending theatrical entertainments and that legitimized the activity for the rest of the citizens.
Most of the populace loved going to the theater, and as Jeffrey L. Singman notes in his book Daily Life in Elizabethan England , "There was a constant and insatiable demand for plays, and actors became very popular figures—the first 'stars.
There were some who shunned it and others who actively campaigned against it. The Puritans were particularly vocal in their opposition to the English playhouses, and numerous treatises and pamphlets were written, warning citizens of the evil and immorality that could be found festering in these amusements. This was followed by Stephen Gosson's School of Abuse in As Oscar Brockett comments, "Both works railed in the harshest terms against the theater as an instrument used by the Devil to encourage vice and to take people away from honest work and other useful pursuits.
Martha Kurtz, in examination of the history plays that were popular with audiences in the late Elizabethan Age, argues that the strong anti-feminist pattern of exclusion is only on the surface. Beneath the obvious is a strong feminine, domestic foundation, to which the men will return when and if they survive their political intrigues.
Themes And Conventions Of Elizabethan Tragedy Vol.i
While Elizabethan audiences continued to enjoy theater, the philosophical battle continued to rage, and the Puritans finally succeeded in closing the theaters in Elizabethan drama did not disappear, however; the theaters were reopened in , and the works of these fine playwrights were once again brought to the stage. The reputation of the great works of Elizabethan Drama grew steadily in England and throughout the rest of the world. They have consistently been performed and appreciated up to modern times; people in the twenty-first century look to this era as one that produced some of the finest drama in all of theater history.
In attesting to the significance of Elizabethan drama, John Gassner writes, "No one with even the slightest interest in English literature needs to be told that its greatest period is the Elizabethan Age, and no one familiar with that period is likely to depart from the consensus that its major literary achievement is the drama. Bald also weighs in with this superlative praise of the Elizabethan playwrights: "Even if Shakespeare had never lived, the last fifteen years of Queen Elizabeth's reign and the reign of King James I would still be the greatest period in the history of English drama.
His works are considered timeless and universal, and they continue to resonate, more than four hundred years after his death.
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In her book Life in the Elizabethan Theater , Diane Yancey notes, "The number of Shakespearean acting companies and theater productions that exist today also bears witness to the continuing importance of Elizabethan drama. Their work has influenced all succeeding generations of theater artists and audiences. Kattelman holds a Ph. In this essay, Kattelman discusses how Elizabethan plays can provide insight into that historical time period.
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