THE RENAISSANCE (end of 15th– beg. of the 17th c)
- The Tudor Years: stabile monarchy (Henry VII),
- The Church of England (Henry VIII),
- The first steps into creating the British Empire (Elizabeth I.)
ECONOMY AND SOCIETY:
- The British economy is rural and self-sufficient. Towns are populated by merchants and craftsmen;
- Colonial expansion under Elizabeth I is facilitated by building a fleet for transportation and military purposes;
- The East India Company starts doing business with Asia;
- Due to economic progress and prosperity, interest in culture and learning grows.
IDEOLOGY AND CULTURE:
English Renaissance follows Italian Renaissance
Humanism – the dominant cultural ideology:
- The revival of interest in classical literature (Greek, Latin).
- Shift of focus from God (central to the Middle Age ideology) to man; in Humanism the individual is more important than deity. Man is capable of shaping his own destiny.
- Interest in local culture; Henry VIII’s Reformation puts an end to Religious drama and rekindles the tradition of Miracle and Mystery Plays.
- The Elizabethan sonnet, inspired by the Petrarchan sonnet, introduced by Sir Thomas Wyatt
- Edmund Spenser creates the Spenserian stanza (new meter in English poetry).
- Thomas Kid– influenced by Seneca (intrigue, horror, corruption, villains)
- Cristopher Marlowe uses blank verse and writes genuine tragedy. Was a great influence on Shakespeare.
- Theatre appeals to all social classes. Theatre language is less artificial than the language of poetry.
- Dominated by the principle of order (if the natural order is disturbed, the result is chaos)
- Acting is considered an immoral profession (women’s roles are played by men)
- There is no scenery in the plays
- The message of the play is transmitted mainly through language
- The Globe Theatre is built in 1599.