The Aspiring Mind of the Elizabethan Younger Generation

By Anthony Esler | Go to book overview
Save to active project

III. A generation of phoenixes

In practice, the Elizabethan younger generation all but ignored orthodox denunciations of ambition. This is not surprising: their parents had done so too. The significant difference between the generations was that the younger Elizabethans rejected orthodox condemnations of ambition in spirit as well as in fact. These young men accepted high aspiration wholeheartedly, not only in practice, but internally, at the level of thought and emotion. For the prudent compromise and politique evasion of their parents, the generation of 1560 substituted a passionately affirmative mood--the aggressive, extremist mood of the Marlovian aspiring mind.

Two processes seem to have operated simultaneously in the development of this Elizabethan younger generation during the 1570's and early 1580's. First, there was a gradual process of alienation from the ideals of their fathers. Among the consequences of this alienation was an emotional rejection of the older generation's strictures against ambition. Secondly, there was a restless search for new values in a world of new and changing facts. Among the results of this quest for new ideals was the growth of a mood of high aspiration so intense and so all-pervading as almost to constitute a secular religion. These complementary processes and the resulting mood of high aspiration are the subject of this chapter.

In attempting to understand the early development of the generation of 1560, it will be well to begin with a brief outline of the upbringing of a fairly typical member of that generation. Such a biographical approach will have a number of advantages. In the first place, it will provide a few concrete facts about the youth of these young men to balance the heavy theoretical emphasis inevitable in such a study as this. In addition, a biographical profile will make possible a much closer examination of an exemplary member of this generation, a detailed analysis which should make much clearer some of the generalizations to follow. Most important, this approach will bring us into closer contact with the lives of these young aristocrats of

-51-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Aspiring Mind of the Elizabethan Younger Generation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 270

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?