Elizabethan Playwrights: A Short History of the English Drama from Medieval Times to the Closing of the Theatres in 1642

Elizabethan Playwrights: A Short History of the English Drama from Medieval Times to the Closing of the Theatres in 1642

Elizabethan Playwrights: A Short History of the English Drama from Medieval Times to the Closing of the Theatres in 1642

Elizabethan Playwrights: A Short History of the English Drama from Medieval Times to the Closing of the Theatres in 1642

Excerpt

Our is the pleasing task to trace once more the fascinating story of the rise, the flourish, and the decline of that splendid drama in the midst of which towers the genius of Shakespeare. The range of the plays which this age produced is the range of Elizabethan life itself; and that life was the fullest, the most varied and picturesque, the most significant in promise and fulfillment which England had ever known. Elizabethan drama is conspicuous in that it is representative of the totality of the age, and naïvely so representative. For that drama mirrors alike the glitter of the court and the gossip of the presence chamber, the bustling, merry life of London's prosperous citizens and that wholesome rural living which has always been typically English. It did more; for it chronicled, too, martial and other adventure abroad and, levying on the literature of the ages, made to live once again the heroes of other peoples and the stories of other times. In the plays of Shakespeare's age we shall find a range of ideas, an inventiveness, a contrast and variety in dramatic art unparalleled elsewhere. There is scarcely a kind of drama, a method of expressing it, a way of reading in that volume of complexities, the manner in which men live, in which Elizabethan playwrights have not stood forth conspicuous for their originality and resource. The wit of ingenuity of Jonson and Fletcher each in his different way, Webster's power of phrase, with Shakespeare combining these qualities and more: we shall look far before we find again a conjunction such as this.

Actual drama involving a professional stage and the professional writing of plays did not come to exist in Lyly, the poetry of Marlowe and Dekker, the dramatic . . .

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