- Slides: 15
The Renaissance Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and other figures
Christopher Marlowe 1564 -1593 • Unlike Shakespeare, Marlowe attended university education. • He was one of the University of Wits, the young generation of writers who were educated at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. • Marlowe’s plays are different from Shakespeare’s in style and content. • Unlike Shakespeare, Marlowe uses superhuman hero and poetic style.
Christopher Marlowe 1564 -1593 • The language of Marlowe’s characters in is more poetic regardless of their position. • On the contrary, Shakespeare’s kings speak like kings, women speak like women, fools speak like fools…etc.
Christopher Marlowe 1564 -1593 • The language of Marlowe’s characters was more classical because he was influenced by the university studies of Latin and Greek. • Dr. Faustus and The Jew of Malta are the most famous tragedies for Marlowe. • Marlowe’s theme was always power. • Marlowe died at the age of 29.
Dr. Faustus • Dr. Faustus is Marlowe’s best-known tragic hero. • Faustus sells his soul to the devil in exchange for all knowledge and power. • The play shows a series of Faustus ambitions, but in the end he has no time. • When the devil returns to claim the soul he has bought, Faustus tries to keep death away. • Faustus’s tragic flaw is his excessive pride and ambition
Dr. Faustus O Soul, be changed into little water-drops, And fall into the ocean, ne’er be found! Ugly hell, gape not! Come not, Lucifer! I’ll burn my books. (Dr. Faustus) üIs the language here poetic? How? üFaustus does not speak to the audience; he speaks to his soul, to hell, and to the devil himself.
Ben Jonson 1572 -1637 • Ben Jonson was influenced by classical writers as well. • His early plays were not successful and caused controversy due to their political relevance. • Ben Jonson tragedies were not as successful as comedies. • Every Man in his Humour (1598) and Every Man out of his Humour (1599). ‘Humour’ here means ‘emotion’. A sort of emotion is what prompts a human being to act. • Two of Jonson’s best comedies are Volpone (1606) and The Alchemist (1610) during the reign of King James I. • The best plays of Ben Jonson were written during the Jacobean age.
Jacobean plays • At the court of King James I, there was a fashion for entertainments, called masques. • Masques were moral fables with very expensive settings and costumes and were presented only once. • Unlike Shakespeare’s plays, the masques were for a small audience, at court. • The actors were often members of the noble families.
Jacobean plays • The titles show the two aspects of nobility and moral themes common in the masques. • Ben Jonson wrote The Masque of the Queens (1609) and Pleasure Reconciled (1618). • Masque plays Short plays performed only once on special days at the court for entertainment. They were attended by a small audience mainly from royal family.
Masques Vs. Shakespearian plays Audience Content Time Actors Setting and costumes Place of performance Masque plays Small Moral fables Special days Members of the royal families Very expensive Shakespearian Big Serious plots Professional actors At an average level At the court At a theater ‘The Globe’
Other Elizabethan and Jacobean figures • Thomas Kyd wrote The Spanish Tragedy in 1592. • The Spanish Tragedy was one of the most popular plays of its time, and gave rise to a whole series of revenge tragedies. • Revenge was a major theme because it was part of the ‘code of honour’ of the age. • Blood tragedy took many forms during Elizabeth’s reign. It was influenced by Latin writer of poetic tragedies, Seneca.
Other Elizabethan figures: Thomas Kyd • They were called tragedies of blood because they usually ended in the violent death of the main characters. • The plays of the Jacobean period became more complex and violent than the plays of the Elizabethan age because they go deeply into problems of corruption and human weakness.
Other Jacobean figures: John Webster • The masterpieces of the Jacobean period include plays by Webster. • John Webster wrote The White Devil and The Duchess of Malfi around 1612. • The plays contain two of the most memorable tragic heroines in English Drama. • Vittoria Corombana and the Duchess of Malfi are victims of male violence. (How is this against the norms of the time? • Their sufferings show many of the problems that the Jacobean society, especially women, was experiencing.
The Puritans • In 1620 s, the taste for violence, corruption, and complex sexual feelings began to bother the Puritans. • The Puritans, an extreme religious sect, are originally Protestant Christians. • The Golden Age of Elizabeth was followed by new social, religious, and political problems. • The Puritans saw theater as a symbol of the bad features of the past, rather than a major literary form
The Puritans • This was the beginning of the time of criticizing theater and its morals. • The Puritans eventually closed theatre in 1642. • The theater was never again so popular as a medium of entertainment, nor so effective in questioning and analyzing the concerns of the Age. • The Golden Age of English Drama ended in criticism, censorship, and decline.