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The Renaissance

THE RENAISSANCE (end of 15th– beg. of the 17th c)

HISTORY:

  • 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.

LITERATURE:

POETRY

  • The Elizabethan sonnet, inspired by the Petrarchan sonnet, introduced by Sir Thomas Wyatt
  • Edmund Spenser creates the Spenserian stanza (new meter in English poetry).

DRAMA

  • Thomas Kid– influenced by Seneca (intrigue, horror, corruption, villains)
  • Cristopher Marlowe uses blank verse and writes genuine tragedy. Was a great influence on Shakespeare.

Elizabethan Drama

  • 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.