Five members of the Tudor family ruled England from 1485 to 1603. f those one hundred eighteen years, Queen Elizabeth I ruled for forty-five (1558-1603). During her reign, the religious, political, economic, and intellectual changes that had begun under her grandfather, Henry VII, and her father, Henry VIII, reached a climax.
The result was a flourishing of the arts and patriotism. As Queen, Elizabeth not only ruled, but also gloriously represented the spirit of her times. Both she and her people loved and lived life with zest. The Elizabethan Age was one of exuberance and enthusiasm.
The medieval focus on life after death gave way to an *Elizabethan emphasis on the here and now.* Though still religious, Elizabeth’s subjects vigorously pursued the pleasures and benefits of worldly living.
Religion itself had been a source of controversy and struggle in England since the reign of Henry VIII. *When the Pope refused to grant Henry a divorce from his Spanish wife, Catherine of Aragon, so that he could marry Anne Boleyn, Henry cut ties with the Church in Rome and established himself as the head of the Anglican Church of England.* Thus, Henry VIII introduced the Protestant Reformation, begun in Germany, to England. Though Henry generally maintained a balance between the Protestant and Catholic elements, his successors did not.
The power struggle between religions accelerated under Henry’s son and immediate successor, Edward VI, and under Mary, Henry’s daughter by Catherine and successor to Edward. After Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn, took the throne, she definitively established the Anglican Church.
One of the greatest crises England encountered during Elizabeth’s reign was an *attack by the powerful Spanish navy. In July 1588*, Philip II of Spain sent his Invincible Armada to invade England. The Spaniards lost over sixty-three ships and nine thousand men, and Spanish dominion of the seas was ended. England ruled the seas and her spirit of pride and patriotism soared.
The Elizabethan Age was a period of geographical explorations and expansion. Consequently, England emerged as a leader in the European race to build commercial empires. Trade with distant countries provided a new source of wealth to the middle class merchants. Enjoying the spirit of success, England was an eager recipient of the spirit of “rebirth” or “reawakening” that was influencing the thought of sixteenth-century Europe.
This “rebirth,” later labeled by historians as the *Renaissance*, was sparked by a renewed interest in the classics of ancient Greece and Rome. It also resulted in a burst of creativity in, and cultivation of, the fine arts; in a growth in the spirit of individualism; in an expansion of intellectual thought; and in a new insight into the purpose and significance of the human person.
The Renaissance *emphasis on the magnificence and wonder of the individual person, as well as of the surrounding world*, encouraged Elizabethans to consider life as more than a process of waiting for life after death. *They believed that life was exciting and beautiful and should be enjoyed immediately.* Shakespeare’s Hamlet exclaims, “What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving how express and admirable.”
The Renaissance ideal expanded the concept of the individual to include all aspects—spiritual, rational, emotional, and physical—of the human personality. The Elizabethan exuberance, therefore, was a reflection of a seemingly limitless desire to know, to do, and to be. The English literature of the Renaissance offers ample proof of the Elizabethan respect for life and beauty, wherever it may be found.
Elizabethan poetry offers a variety of thoughts in words and rhythms that are pleasing to hear. The exuberance of the Elizabethan Age often expressed itself in songs, some spontaneous and others carefully designed. The development of musical Instruments such as the *virginal and viola da gamba* complemented this impulse to sing. Nearly everyone in Elizabethan times could sing or play a musical instrument. *In 1577, Richard Tottel published the first collection of songs and lyrics under the title Songs and Sonnets.* This book, however, usually is called *Tottel’s Miscellany*. Similar songbooks soon appeared, some with titles such as *The Paradise of Dainty Devices and The Gorgeous Gallery of Gallant Inventions*. Like these titles, many of the Elizabethan songs were decorative and elaborate; others, however, were clear and simple.
Elizabethan songs often alluded to Greek mythology. Such references are a natural way for Renaissance songwriters to express their admiration of classical times. In the poem “The Triumph of Charis” the poet used Charis as his subject. In Greek mythology, Charis is the personification of beauty and charm.
Which song would a mother most likely sing to a child at bedtime?
-“Golden Slumbers Kiss Your Eyes”
What does Charis triumph over in the song “The Triumph of Charis”?
-Her beauty and charm have all men wishing to be by her side.
What is the conceit in “There is a Garden in her Face”?
NOTE: A conceit is a literary device that compares two dissimilar things.
-The women’s lips are compared to cherries because she will not allow anyone to kiss them until she cries “Cherry-Ripe.” (line 6)
Choose the sense that the poet appeals to in the last two lines of each stanza.
(“Spring, the Sweet Spring… ” from Summer’s Last Will and Testament, by Thomas Nashe)
Which line offers the best example of alliteration?
“Full Fadom1, five thy father lies”
Personification is a figure of speech by which the author gives human forms and traits to something that is not human (inanimate object, animal, abstraction). Poets use personification to help sharpen the reader’s interest and understanding.
In “Golden Slumbers Kiss Your Eyes,” Thomas Dekker uses personification in the first and second lines: “Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,/ Smiles awake you when you rise.”
In his effort to involve the reader, the poet often uses imagery; that is, he uses clear, concrete details that appeal to the reader’s senses. An image is sometimes defined in literature classes as a “word picture.” More exactly, an image is a word or phrase that encourages the reader to hear, touch, smell, taste, and see the poet’s subjects.
In “Song” from Cymbeline, Shakespeare helps the reader to see the flowers by showing the shape (cup-shaped) of some and color (golden) of others.
Elizabethan poets frequently used an elaborate and exaggerated image called a conceit. In this figure of speech, the writer makes a comparison between two things that are normally considered very dissimilar.
Match the example to the term.
1. the fields breathe sweet
3. bag of the bee
4. first collection of songs and lyrics
5. “The Triumph of Charis”
Match the definition to the word.
1. something not concrete; a quality separated from an object
2. that which filled up or completed or brought to perfection
3. something that can be perceived by the senses (smelled, tasted, felt, heard or seen)
4. treating or regarding as the same
Thomas Campion uses elaborate imagery to help the reader see his lovely lady. Match the comparison that the poet uses to the feature of his love’s face.
1. roses and lilies
4. rosebuds filled with snow
7. bent bows
Lyric poetry is highly subjective. It expresses the feeling or attitude of the poet. The sonnet is a specialized type of lyric poetry that was popular in Elizabethan England.
The sonnet had its origin in Italy (the word means *”little song”* in Italian) where it had been perfected by the poet *Francesco Petrarch*. Introduced into England in the early sixteenth century by *Thomas Wyatt and the Earl of Surrey*, the sonnet soon became a literary fashion.
*Three famous sonneteers of the Elizabethan Age were Sir Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, and William Shakespeare.* John Donne is noted for his religious sonnets.
(1554-1586) was a poet, critic, scholar, diplomat, courtier, and soldier. He offers an example of the ideal Renaissance man. At 32, Sidney took part in a military expedition to Holland. He was fatally wounded during a skirmish there, and, according to a traditional story, he offered his own bottle of water to another dying man because he believed the soldier’s need was greater than his own. He died as he had lived: as a gentleman.
With his Astrophel and Stella, Sidney sparked the popularity of writing sonnet sequences. He addressed his sequence to Penelope Devereux; but gave his lady a name taken from Greek and Roman literature, as did some of the other Elizabethan poets. “Stella” means star; “Astrophel” means star-lover. Like most other Elizabethan sonnet sequences, Astrophel and Stella focuses on the poet’s love for a beautiful woman. The sonnets you will read are two of the 108 sonnets in Astrophel and Stella.
Although he used variations, Sir Philip Sidney followed the Italian sonnet form more closely than any other Elizabethan writer.
(has “Sonnet XXXI” and “Sonnet XLI” as examples)
Match the description to the person or term.
1. brought sonnet to England
2. fourteen line poem written in iambic pentameter
4. three quatrains and a couplet
5. famous sonneteer
(1552-1599). Considered one of the greatest English poets, he was the successor to Chaucer in the development of English poetry. After his graduation from Cambridge, Spenser spent four years in the household of the Earl of Leicester, Philip Sidney’s uncle and a favorite courtier of Queen Elizabeth. Then he accepted a government assignment in Ireland, where he remained until shortly before his death.
Spenser’s most famous work is *The Faerie Queen*, the longest poem in the English language. The “Faerie Queen” of the poem is Gloriana, a symbol of Queen Elizabeth to whom he dedicated this masterpiece.
The name of Spenser’s sonnet sequence is *Amoretti* (“Little Loves”). Spenser’s sonnets sprang from a real, personal love for Elizabeth Boyle, his future wife.
Spenser wrote in a quaint and archaic language; therefore, his poetry is often reprinted in Elizabethan spelling to give a true representation of his style. You should have no trouble understanding the sonnets if you pronounce the words as they are spelled and keep in mind that a u is used as a w or a v. (shows Sonnet XV & XXXIV for examples)
Spenser used a simile to develop “Sonnet XXXIV.” A simile is a figure of speech that expresses a similarity between two objects, using like or as. A metaphor is a figure of speech that does not use like or as to compare two objects.
Spenser, as you have seen, developed a sonnet pattern of his own. In the Spenserian sonnet, the thought is developed through three sets of rhyme. Each set introduces the rhyme of the next: abab bcbc cdcd. The last two lines introduce a new rhyme—ee—that summarizes the idea of the sonnet.
The poet compares himself to a ship.
What, according to the speaker, is the fairest treasure of his loved one?
A metaphor compares two things without using like or as.
The Italian sonnet is also called a Petrarchan sonnet.
The word this in the last line refers to
The poetic device used in line 6 is
According to the poet, the summer is inferior to the subject of his poem because: ______. Select all that apply.
it is too short??
it is too hot??
Choose the rhyme scheme of Sonnet XXIX (Presume possess’d rhymes with least. ).
abab cdcd efef gg
What is the metaphor in Line 7?
Love is compared to the guiding star for all earthly travelers.
What is the best restatement of the first sentence?
Let me not speak out against why two true-minded people should be married.
What type of sonnet is this?
In “Sonnet XV,” why does the speaker not think merchants need to seek for precious things in far away places?
because his lady contains all riches within herself
The “eye of heaven” is the
What two reasons does the speaker give for why all fair things decline?
nature and chance
What does Donne not say that death is a slave to?
What is the sonnet seeking to define?
The rhyme scheme of the following lines is _____.
High diddle diddle,
The Cat and the Fiddle,
The Cow jumped over the moon.
The little Dog laughed
To see such craft,
And the Dish ran away with the Spoon.
Match the phrase that describes his sonnets with the poet.
1. addresses his sonnets to Stella
2. bases his sonnets on a love for his future wife
3. bases his sonnets on religious thought
4. addresses some of his sonnets to a “Dark Lady”
What line number states how long the subject of the poem will live?
Which of the following is not mentioned in the poem as an element that destroys man-made monuments and memories?
What theme, commonly used by Shakespeare, does “Sonnet LV” illustrate?
-A poet can immortalize love and beauty in his poetry.
In which line does the poet use allusion?
What line number states why the subject of the poem will live so long?
The plays found new support from the town authorities who used the trade guilds as dramatic companies. Guildsmen provided money for costumes, stage properties, and actors’ wages. The plays came to be called mystery plays. Although *secularized in production, the plays were based on the Bible*. The plays were performed in a *cycle*, a series of short plays that formed one long narrative.
Sometimes the individual plays within the cycle were performed on fixed stages or stations, and the crowds moved from station to station to see the entire cycle. Usually, however, individual plays were performed on separate wagons that moved to the spectators who were gathered at various predetermined locations in the city. Moving in succession, the wagons brought the entire cycle to the waiting crowds. These wagons were called *pageants*. The design of a pageant usually reflected its purpose and relationship to a specific guild.
is a dramatic form that is considered a transition from medieval morality plays to Elizabethan drama. The original definition of an interlude is unknown, but it is believed to have begun during the reign of Henry VIII as a brief skit between the courses of a banquet. The word ultimately suggested a play brief enough to be presented between events of a dramatic performance, entertainment, or feast.
*Court interludes* were realistic and humorous and intended primarily to amuse. *John Heywood* was the best-known writer of interludes; his most famous one is *The Four P’s.* This interlude presents a debate among a Palmer, a Pardoner, and a Pothecary. A Pedlar acts as a judge to determine who can tell the biggest lie. The Palmer wins when he claims that he never saw a woman lose her temper. (A palmer was a type of religious pilgrim; a pardoner sold indulgences; a pothecary was an early pharmacist; and a pedlar, now spelled peddler, was a traveling salesperson.)
Some of the interludes both developed from and resembled morality plays. The purpose of these educational interludes was to teach a moral.
Everyday details and a realistic approach were characteristics of the interlude. Although following the allegorical pattern of the morality plays, the interlude began the move away from personifications of abstracts toward portrayal of individual characters. Most importantly, the court interludes strongly suggested that comic elements that simply amuse and do not instruct had recognizable value.
The first Elizabethan playhouses resembled the inn yards. These early theaters were eight-sided buildings with an unroofed yard in front of the stage and two or three tiers of covered galleries lining the walls. The *”groundlings,”* who paid one penny, occupied the open yard. Known also as the “stinkards,” the groundlings were a loud, raucous bunch. The more sophisticated people could spend another penny and get a seat in one of the galleries.
The Elizabethan playhouses transformed the crude platform of the inn yards into a permanent, three-sided stage that jutted almost halfway out into the theater. This physical closeness between the actors and their audience encouraged the audience to get emotionally involved in the action rather than to just sit and watch. In fact, the groundlings sometimes got physically involved. Depending on their response to specific actions or characters, the groundlings would hiss, boo, applaud, throw vegetables and fruits, or even jump onto the edge of the stage. An Elizabethan audience was a lively, but attentive, one.
The Elizabethan stage had no front curtain to mark the ends of acts and scenes. Nor did playgoers receive printed programs that outlined the time and place of each scene. The stage was usually bare. The scenes and setting depended primarily on the playwright’s descriptions—through the words of his characters—and the audience’s imagination. A curtained area at the rear of the stage served as a tomb, a tent, or any form of inner room or secluded area. Balconies, one directly above the curtained area and others on the sides of the stage, represented elevated places. A trapdoor in the stage provided an entrance for ghosts and evil spirits from the underworld. A similar trapdoor in the canopy over the stage, called the “heavens,” provided a way to lower angels and good spirits on ropes. Neither the stage nor the theater used any artificial lighting. Depending entirely on natural light, the plays had to be performed in the afternoon.
The first English playhouse was built in 1576 by the Elizabethan actor James Burbage. It was simply called “The Theatre.” Most people associate William Shakespeare with the playhouse named the *Globe*. Built in 1599, the Globe was the most impressive theater of its time. Shakespeare’s greatest plays, including Hamlet, Macbeth, and King Lear, were first performed in the Globe.
Women had no part in Elizabethan plays. Boys, frequently choirboys, performed all the women’s roles. Some of these youths were excellent on stage, and the Elizabethan audience was seemingly content with the absence of actresses.
*Actors, popular though they were, did not have a favorable reputation.* Classified by some local laws as vagabonds, actors had to seek means to protect themselves from punishments imposed on such persons. Some local authorities also persisted in efforts to close down the theaters. Thus, the actors formed groups or companies that were organized under the patronage of some member of the nobility who could and would protect their interests. In spite of their low social standing, actors provided one of the favorite forms of entertainment at court. To perform at court by royal command was one of the greatest honors a company could enjoy.
Although the scenery of an Elizabethan theater was scanty, costuming was plentiful and extravagant. Because the jutting stage brought the actor physically so close to his audience, he wore the best and most colorful of materials.
Appropriate costuming helps the audience to identify characters. Elizabethan costuming, however, was frequently anachronistic. The acting companies were not overly concerned about duplicating historical dress. In an Elizabethan production of Julius Caesar, Antony and Brutus may have appeared in Roman robes, or, more likely, could have worn the clothes of Renaissance noblemen. Such incongruities did not disturb the audience.
The characters and plots of Elizabethan plays reflected the Renaissance belief that individual human beings were appropriate and exciting subjects for close examination. The Elizabethan plays were not copies of the medieval personifications of a single personality trait, such as justice or greed, involved in a single, simplified conflict for the possession of souls. Instead, Elizabethan drama discarded the one-dimensional characters of morality plays and portrayed real-life men and women involved in real-life conflicts. The Elizabethan audiences saw characters who were strong one minute and weak the next; they saw characters who struggled to learn the significance of their existence. The Elizabethan audiences saw people on stage who were much like themselves. This fascinating approach to drama did not lack for writers. Many playwrights were eager to create lifelike characters. One of the finest, and definitely the best known, of these playwrights is William Shakespeare.
The Elizabethan theater was not long-lived. In the middle of the seventeenth century, all playhouses were closed by demand of the Puritans. When they reopened at the end of the seventeenth century, they were drastically changed. The building itself was rectangular and roofed. The audiences saw for the first time artificial lighting, movable scenery, and women on stage. The stage no longer jutted into the audience area but instead receded into the wall. This new theater more closely resembled the theater of today than it did that of the Elizabethan Age.
T/F: An Elizabethan theater is almost identical to a modern-day American theater.
a seventeenth-century English poet, dramatist, and critic, said this of Shakespeare:
He was the man who of all modern, and perhaps ancient poets, had the largest and most comprehensive soul. All the images of nature were still [always] present to him, and he drew them not laboriously, but luckily; when he describes anything, you more than see it, you feel it too.
Shakespeare is probably the most widely read author in all English literature. Very little is known about him. The most reliable facts about Shakespeare are the recorded dates of important events in his life.
Shakespeare was *born in 1564* at Stratford-on-Avon. His birth date is not known but is assumed to be April 23. He was the son of John Shakespeare, a glove-maker and tradesman, and Mary Arden, a woman of good background.
Presumably, Shakespeare attended the well-esteemed local grammar school and there learned Latin, some Greek, and read the works of Latin playwrights.
In *1582* at eighteen, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, who was seven or eight years older than he. Their first child, Susanna, was born in 1583. Two years later, twins Hamnet and Judith were born. Hamnet died in childhood.
No record exists of Shakespeare’s activities between 1585 and 1592. Some legends say that he taught school. *Very probably, he left Stratford in 1585 and went to London*, perhaps to begin his apprenticeship as an actor. By 1592, he was established enough in London to be the target of a public, written attack by a seemingly jealous playwright, Robert Greene.
By 1594, Shakespeare was both an actor and playwright with the company known as *the Lord Chamberlain’s Men*. Popular at Elizabeth’s court, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men outlived the Queen and became known as the King’s Men under the patronage of her successor, James I. Shakespeare was a shareholder in the Lord Chamberlain’s Company and, therefore, in the profits of its successful theater, the Globe. In addition, he made money—though not much—as an actor and from the sale of his plays to the company. By 1597, Shakespeare was wealthy enough to purchase New Place, the second largest house in Stratford. While Shakespeare’s wife and children lived in New Place, Shakespeare continued to work (write, memorize, rehearse, act, manage the theater, and train actors) in London. Shakespeare’s father died in 1601, the same year in which Hamlet was written. His mother died in 1607. Susanna was married in 1607 and Judith in 1616. In 1611, Shakespeare permanently retired to Stratford, though he continued to visit London. On March 25, 1616, he wrote his will. *William Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616.* His wife, Ann, died on August 6, 1623.
Scholars generally agree that Shakespeare wrote *38 plays.* The three broad categories for his plays are comedies, histories, and tragedies. Comedies appear throughout his career. The earlier comedies, such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Love’s Labour’s Lost, are light-hearted and filled with elaborate word play. The later comedies, such as All’s Well That Ends Well and Measure for Measure, are known as his “dark comedies.” Shakespeare’s history, or chronicle, plays were about the past kings of England—Henry IV, V, and VI; Richard II and III and King John—and were written in the last decade of the sixteenth century when patriotic interest in the past was high. The period of Shakespeare’s tragedies began with Julius Caesar, written at the turn of the century. The first decade of the seventeenth century saw the full flourish of his great tragedies: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra. Among Shakespeare’s major tragedies with which you may be familiar, Romeo and Juliet was written earlier in 1596.
The last few of Shakespeare’s plays, probably written at Stratford, are sometimes described as comedies but possess qualities of both tragedy and comedy. They are lighthearted and yet serious, imaginatively fanciful and yet thoughtfully symbolic. These plays include Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest. Shakespeare’s last play was a history play, Henry VIII, published in 1613. Scholars generally considered it an inferior work and have some doubt that it was actually his work.
Enthusiastically interested in people, sharply aware of their thoughts and motivations, and expert at writing words that made them truly alive, Shakespeare was a playwright for people of all times. Although this universal appeal has won Shakespeare fame as a dramatist, Shakespeare was also a master poet.
Shakespeare’s first two published poems were long narratives: Venus and Adonis and Lucrece. He wrote these poems between June 1592, and April 1594, when London theaters were closed because of the plague. Between 1593 and 1601, Shakespeare composed his series of *154 sonnets.*
Other publications attributed to Shakespeare are The Passionate Pilgrim, a volume of twenty poems; The Phoenix and the Turtle, a 67-line poem; and A Lover’s Complaint, a 329-line poem. Some scholars maintain that Shakespeare wrote only five of the twenty Pilgrim poems, and not all agree that A Lover’s Complaint is Shakespeare’s work.
Match the description to the person or place in Shakespeare’s life.
5. house purchased in 1597
6. company under James I
Match the period of writing to the work.
1. last play
2. early 17th century tragedy
3. late comedy
4. history play 1590s
5. “dark comedy”
6. early comedy
7. June 1592-April 1594
Match the location of presentation to the type of play.
is one of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays. In fact, you may be more familiar with it than you realize. If you have ever said, “Something’s rotten in Denmark” or “He has a method in his madness” you were actually paraphrasing lines from Hamlet. Numerous quotations from the play provide the source for popular clichés today.
The complete title of the play is The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Different ages have had different interpretations of the term tragedy, but most agree on the basic definition that *a tragedy is a serious play with an unhappy ending*. This definition may be extended to include three characteristics. First, a tragedy ends in an unhappy catastrophe, usually with the death or some other form of destruction of the hero or heroine. Second, this final disaster is neither contrived nor an accident; instead it is the *inevitable* result of previous events and conflicts. Finally, this entire account of conflicts culminating in catastrophe must be regarded by both the playwright and the audience as significant and serious.
The purpose of tragedy, however, is not to depress the audience. On the contrary, *tragedy intends to arouse the emotions of pity and fear and therefore to produce in the audience a catharsis, or purgation, of these emotions.* The problems examined in a tragedy are universal ones—they are problems of all people, everywhere. As members of the audience feel with the suffering hero and share in his fear, they become emptied of pity and fear; at the play’s end, they should be ready to begin anew their own lives with a sense of *calm*, a sense of emotional understanding.
During the Elizabethan Age, the theory of tragedy emphasized the idea that the downfall of the hero was caused by a personal error or character flaw. This error could be the result of bad judgment, inherited weakness, or many other causes. Ultimately, therefore, the catastrophe resulted not from the hero’s intentional wrongdoing or even from forces outside himself, but from a flaw in his character. This flaw is called the *tragic flaw*. As you read Hamlet, you will be able to develop more fully a definition of Shakespeare’s presentation of tragedy.
As you read Hamlet, remember that Shakespeare did not intend that it be read. He wrote it to be performed in a theater; therefore, you should try to see and hear the play. Read slowly and pay careful attention to a change in scenes or speakers, to the entrance and exit of characters. If you do not know the meaning of exeunt, look it up before you begin to read. When you are alone, or with a willing friend, read the play aloud. You may, at first, feel embarrassed, even if you are alone. You may soon find, however, that the play is more exciting when you can hear it. You may also discover that you enjoy the chance to be dramatic.
Before you begin to read, review the list of characters—Dramatis Personae—given in front of the play. Then, as you read Hamlet, refer to the list to identify each character as he or she enters the play. Soon you will be familiar with the names of all the main characters. Slowly you will get to know and to understand the characters. Listen carefully to what each one says to and about others. Pay special attention to what a character may say about himself. Through the words of the play, you will learn not only what the characters do, but also why they do it.
Remember to pay close attention to footnotes or other notations. Without them you may miss the precise definition of words and phrases intended by Shakespeare. You will also be given a short list of vocabulary words for scenes that contain contemporary words that may be unfamiliar to you. These words will be listed in the order in which they appear in the scene. Study them to enhance your understanding of the play.
Hamlet is the son and namesake of a medieval king of Denmark. When the play opens, Hamlet’s father, King Hamlet, is dead. The new king is not young Hamlet but rather the dead king’s brother, Claudius. The setting of the first scene is the guard post in front of the king’s castle at Elsinore, a Danish seaport.
In order to help you understand the text better, look up the following words and keep them in mind while reading Act I, scene i: apparition, assail, portentous, and invulnerable.
The medieval characters in this play believe in ghosts, as did many people in Shakespeare’s audience. A ghost, however, always presented a problem. The persons who saw it had to determine its nature and purpose. Some accepted theories were that a ghost may be simply a trick of one’s mind; that it may be a spirit returning to complete a task left unfinished at death; that it may be a blessed spirit who returns with divine permission; or that it may be an evil spirit—a devil—returning in the form of a person already dead.
T/F: The Ghost tells Horatio that Norway will soon attack Denmark.
By the end of the scene, how often have Bernardo and Marcellus seen the Ghost?
In what kind of clothes was the Ghost dressed?
-a full suit of armor
Marcellus and Bernardo are soldiers. What is Horatio’s profession?
What have you learned about young Fortinbras’s personality, even though you have not yet met him? Select all that apply.
-He seems very determined in his resolution.
-He is swift to act.
When the cock crows to announce the break of day, the Ghost: _____. Select all that apply.
-behaves like one who is guilty
-is startled and disappears
Why was Denmark preparing for a possible war? Select all that apply.
-Hamlet’s father had killed the king of Norway.
-Hamlet’s father had won some land from Norway.
-The Norwegian king’s son planned to avenge his father.
T/F: Hamlet agrees to remain in Denmark rather than return to where he had been living.
T/F: The present king of Norway is aware of Fortinbras’s activities.
T/F: Obviously, Claudius neither likes nor trusts Polonius.
T/F: King Hamlet had been dead six months when Claudius and Gertrude were married.
Reread Hamlet’s soliloquy in Act I, scene ii.
Check three reasons why he was depressed enough to even think of self-destruction.
-his father’s death
-Claudius’ role as king and stepfather
-distrust for his mother’s love for his father
*Commonwealth is the term used to describe the Puritans’ control of English government from 1649 until 1660.* To understand how the Puritans became powerful enough to gain control of England, you must first understand who the Puritans were. The term Puritan was probably first applied during Elizabethan times to those men, mostly craftsmen and citizens of the flourishing bourgeois group, who believed that the Church of England should be “purified” of unnecessary ritual that was no longer meaningful and of organization that was no longer able to reach individual members. These dissenters resented their government’s imposing on them what they considered a corrupt faith. Parish priests of the Church of England were awarded their positions by being the owner of the most land in the area. The clergyman’s payment came out of parish tax funds and, once established, was automatic. Once a vicar was given a parish, he almost always kept that parish. The overseeing bishops were appointed by the monarch. Thus, by the time of Elizabeth’s successor, James I (see Chart 2), seemingly no division existed between church and state. Tax money supported the church, and the king governed it.
Anglicans, members of the Church of England, feared these Puritans and other dissenters, or Nonconformists, because they rebelled not only against the church but also against the state since church and state were so closely related. Fearful Anglicans made laws to enforce conformity to the Church of England. One such law was responsible for John Bunyan’s stay in Bedford jail, influencing his work Pilgrim’s Progress. These laws forced Puritans further away from the party of the king.
James I himself widened that division by insisting on his absolute power as king over the powers of Parliament, which contained several Puritan members. James wished to ally England with Roman Catholic Spain, a wish that further angered the Puritans, who felt that the Roman Catholic Church was idolatrous and went against their wishes to purify the church of unnecessary rituals. His son, Charles I, was so eager to control England without Parliament that no Parliament was convened from *1629 to 1640* (see Chart 1). Moreover, Charles clearly preferred Roman Catholic ritual and began to restore it to the English Church. This period was so difficult for the Puritans that nearly twenty thousand emigrated to America. In 1640, when the newly convened Parliament refused to give Charles money to quiet unrest in Scotland, the stage was set for the *Civil War, which began in 1642*(-1645), *between the king’s forces (sometimes called Cavaliers or Royalists) and the Puritans (also called Roundheads).*
Puritans felt justified in defying the king because they disapproved of his desire to insert politics into religion.
In 1645, the Puritans won the Civil War. In *1649*, after some Puritan maneuvering in Parliament, *Charles I was executed*. Thus, in 1649, the Commonwealth began its eleven-year existence. During this period, Parliament was the ruling body until *1653*, when the Puritan leader of the Parliamentary forces, Oliver Cromwell, was declared *Lord Protector*. *Oliver Cromwell* died in 1658. His son could not prevent an invitation to Charles II to return to England as king. By this time, most English citizens had become tired of the Puritan government’s suppressive actions, which included *closing theaters by Parliamentary act from 1642 to 1660*, beheading the Archbishop of Canterbury, and evicting Anglican clergymen from their parishes. The English were eager to celebrate Charles II’s return. *Thus in 1660, Charles II was made king, and the English monarchy was restored.*
The Restoration did not altogether quiet the discontent that had led to civil war. Anglicans still feared Puritan influence; and Puritans, as well as many Anglicans, feared renewed Roman Catholic pressure from the monarchy. Less important uprisings occurred in 1678, 1685, and finally, in 1688. Even though Charles II’s Act of Grace had pardoned those Puritans not directly responsible for Charles I’s death, nearly two thousand clergy with Puritan leanings left the Church of England in 1661. By 1672, the *Test Act* forced all officers of the state, both civil and military, to prove their sympathies by taking communion according to the form of the Church of England. Charles I’s Roman Catholic preferences had so frightened the English that they readily believed *Titus Oates* (1649-1705) who invented a *”Popish Plot.”* According to Oates, in the Popish Plot, Roman Catholics were supposed to have planned to assassinate Charles II and other political leaders so that they could place his brother James II (a strong Roman Catholic) on the throne. Memories and resentments of previous Roman Catholic injustices were still fresh: *Queen “Bloody” Mary I*, daughter of Henry VIII, had burned Protestants at the stake only a century earlier; and the Roman Catholic-inspired *Gunpowder Plot* (when Guy Fawkes was prepared to blow up the king and Parliament) had happened in 1605. Once again this fear, based on the imaginary “Popish Plot,” renewed violence; some thirty-five people were executed for supposed treason.
When James II took the throne in 1685 at his brother’s death, he confirmed some of those fears. In 1688, he imprisoned seven bishops of the Church of England in the London Tower. When his second wife bore a son, many feared the obvious Roman Catholic heir to the throne.
Fortunately, English Protestants found a solution without the execution of another king. James II’s daughter Mary, who was heiress to the throne, had been contracted to marry William of Orange of Protestant Holland. William was quickly invited to England to insure Protestantism in 1688. This turn of events caused James and many of his followers, known as *Jacobites*, to flee to France. William and Mary’s acceptance of the throne was known as *”The Glorious Revolution.”* At that time, Parliament was given the power to determine the succession to the throne. That “revolution” provided for political and religious toleration, and thus brought government reform agreeable to the English majority.
The ___ was the Puritan government after Charles I’s execution, lasting until the Restoration in 1660.
Who fought the civil war taking place in 1642 to 1645?
-The Royalists and the Roundheads
What are some reasons why Puritans emigrated to New England?
Laws were enforced by the Anglicans to promote conformity to the Church of England, due to fear of the Puritans because they rebelled against both the church and state. King James I continued to create a divide between the Puritans and his party. He insisted on absolute power as king over the powers of Parliament, which contained several Puritan members. He also wanted to ally England with Roman Catholic Spain. Later, his son, Charles I, preferred the Roman Catholic ritual and began to restore it to the English Church. Having the Roman Catholic faith forced upon the Puritans made life difficult during this period, because they disagreed with their beliefs. Thus, the Puritans made the decision to move to New England.
The Commonwealth ended in ____ when ___ was invited back to England as King.
-1660; Charles II
To what event does the Restoration refer?
-Charles II was invited back to England to be king.
What form of discrimination was not used against the Puritans immediately after the Restoration?
-Some Puritans were shipped to Africa.
what WAS used:
1. Clergymen with Puritan sympathies lost their positions.
2. All officers of the state were forced by the Test Act to take communion according to the Church of England.
3. Some Puritans were imprisoned.
What is one reason why the English were afraid of a Roman Catholic monarch?
-Unpleasant memories of “Bloody” Mary, who had burned Protestants at the stake, remained.
In 1605, Roman Catholic-inspired Guy Fawkes conspired against the king and Parliament. His plan was known as the ___.
What were the followers of James II called?
What was “The Glorious Revolution?”
-William and Mary were invited to take the throne, causing Parliament to control the succession to the throne.
When William and Mary were invited to England, Parliament became more powerful. Two political parties, the *Tories and Whigs*, emerged to struggle for control of Parliament during William’s reign. The Tories’ ancestors were, supposedly, the Royalists of the earlier seventeenth century. The Whigs’ ancestors had been anti-Royalist. The Tories supported the present order of the church and state and were mainly landowners and lower-level clergymen. Whigs usually supported commerce, religious tolerance, and Parliamentary reform. These parties, however, were hardly like today’s parties; they were more like groups of politicians allied to promote common interests.
William III reigned jointly with Mary II until *1694* (when *Mary died* of smallpox) and as sole ruler until 1702. His reign was marked by military matters, a characteristic the Tories were quick to criticize. He quieted Jacobite uprisings in Scotland, subdued Ireland, and conducted a continental war against France to stop her influence and control. William was not popular with the Tories because of his connections with *Holland*. The Dutch were seen by the English as money-grabbing merchants. The Tory
*Jonathan Swift* satirized the Dutch in “Book Three” of Gulliver’s Travels by portraying their merchants stomping on a crucifix to persuade the Japanese to trade with them.
*William was killed* by a fall from his horse *in 1702*. Anne, William’s sister-in-law, became Queen until 1714. The Whigs remained in power and continued military activities to boost the economy. The Tories continued to complain until *1710 when they came into power*. The Tories finally calmed the war with France. Jonathan Swift became their chief propagandist. These years, however, were not calm.
Roman Catholics were still feared in spite of the *Toleration Act of 1689*, which permitted Protestant dissenters to hold their own services instead of attending those of the Church of England. After *Anne’s death in 1714*, the crown went to George I of Hanover, a small kingdom that later became part of Germany (see Chart 2). The *Hanover kings, who ruled until 1820*, were criticized for their preference for the German language over English, their preference in music and unimportant scholarly matters, and their controversial personal lives. Yet they did bring stability to the throne while tremendous social and economic changes swept the country.
The 1750s began a period of rapid changes brought on by industrialization, shifting social classes, and continuing expansion of the British Empire. One such series of changes has sometimes been called the “*agricultural revolution*,” although that title is probably an overstatement. It was caused by landowners who were still suffering financially from the civil war. They decided to reorganize their land and buy more land to make their farming more efficient. They then enclosed the land for their own use, a move given the title of “Enclosure Acts,” and consequently prevented small farmers and squatters from using the land that had once supported them. These landowners began to develop better farming methods, such as the rotation of crops and the draining of marshes, and invented improved farm machinery, but in so doing displaced many of the rural poor.
Along with farming improvements came improved spinning and mining methods. Finally, by the 1750s, spinning and weaving machinery powered by steam began what is known as the *Industrial Revolution*. Inventions developed rapidly to produce goods more quickly and in greater volume.
Some of those rural poor who had been driven from their land began to cluster in newly industrialized areas to find employment. Their living conditions eventually became so intolerable that Parliament later enacted reform bills to feed and educate these groups. The Anglican Church further eroded as some members realized how the church’s complicated structure prevented it from reaching the masses of poor people. The Anglican clergyman John Wesley and his followers broke away from the Anglicans to form the Methodist Church.
Growing industries at home and trade to other parts of the expanding British Empire produced higher-level jobs and a growing middle class. Old, established families were losing money and power, while families with unrecognized reputations began to acquire the wealth necessary to have political power. As money became more important, a classical university education became less important. Education was thinly spread at lower levels to produce a wider, but less educated, reading public, and periodicals, which could be read quickly and easily, were becoming more popular.
Meanwhile, England became more committed to commercial and political expansion. With the *Peace of Paris* at the end of the *Seven Years’ War* in 1763, (started 1756) England gained the two subcontinents of *Canada and India*. It had given much money to protect the Americans from the French and to promote western expansion in America. The British were truly unable to understand why the Americans seemed unwilling to aid the British taxpayers. Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson, and Oliver Goldsmith warned of the consequences of the greed, corruption, and violence that plagued this period in British history.
The literature of these centuries was politically conscious; major writers were deeply committed to making their readers understand the significance of current events. The two Puritans John Milton and John Bunyan had been active in the Commonwealth. Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost and Bunyan’s allegory Pilgrim’s Progress do not deal directly with political themes, but they emphasize the battle between good and evil in all human beings. They contrast with the literature written to entertain Charles II’s court, literature that shows a renewed influence from France: witty and sparkling satire, carefully structured drama, and themes sometimes lacking moral values.
Writers who lived in political, economic, and social disorder were concerned with imposing order and organization on their writing. The period from 1660 to 1700 is sometimes called the Neoclassical period because writers, especially poets, used their knowledge of Greek and Latin literature to perfect literary forms. One such perfected form is the heroic couplet, which you will examine later. Most important, writers were concerned with placing man in an orderly world in which he knew his position and observed the rest of the world with educated but restrained criticism.
Writers, especially from 1688 to 1745 (sometimes called the period of common sense), felt a public responsibility to evaluate the quality of life, just as their classical models had. Along with this critical responsibility, they stressed the importance of a reasonable, logical approach. Realism was important in describing man’s actions and his social position. Finally, a controlled approach to religion was important. They distrusted emotional shows of faith and revelations that would not stem from intellectual examination. They believed that the religious experience was rational and must be observed by the intellect. These four characteristics all appear in the works of Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift, both of whom used satire as a weapon against, and as instruction for, the newly educated masses.
Writers from 1745 to the end of the century became more sentimental and even more moral. Their literature is sometimes called the literature of sensibility. These writers wrote lyrical emotional works with emphasis on the common man or on times in the distant past. They were interested in supernatural elements (usually to instruct and prepare the soul for death), and in the beauties of a higher power in nature. They often probed the effects of melancholy.
Finally, writers found new ways to reach the public. They wrote moral or satiric essays in periodicals, such as The Tatler (1709), Spectator (1711), and The Gentleman’s Magazine (1731). They also developed a new literary form, the novel, describing middle class people dealing with middle class problems. At that time, a novel was mainly a fictitious narrative, a story having no factual basis, with a closely knit plot of epic scope and a unity of theme. John Bunyan and Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe, pioneered realistic detail and lengthened narratives. Samuel Richardson (1689-1761), Henry Fielding (1707-1754), Tobias Smollet (1721-1771), and Laurence Sterne (1713-1768) are the important novelists of the period. Their novels are still delightful to read and have influenced countless novelists since then, including Charles Dickens.
T/F: Jonathan Swift wrote to further the Tory cause.
Jonathan Swift used “Book Three” of Gulliver’s Travels to satirize the ___ because of William’s connections with ___.
T/F: The “agricultural revolution” was the enclosing of land to produce smaller estates and smaller profits.
T/F: The Industrial Revolution began in the 1750s with inventions such as spinning and weaving machinery driven by steam.
T/F: One of the lands England gained by the Peace of Paris was India.
What were the dates of the Seven Years’ War?
-1756 to 1763
The following are some characteristics of the literature of ___.
use of reason and logic
use of realism
suspicion of emotionalism
rational expression of religious views
The following are some characteristics of the literature of ___.
emphasis on common man or the past
interest in the supernatural
interest in melancholy
Early novels were primarily ___ and dealt with problems faced by ___ members of society.
-fictional; middle class
Periodicals that contained moral or satiric essays in the first half of the eighteenth century were: _____.
-The Gentleman’s Magazine
Some early novelists of this period were: _____.
Writers who used Greek and Latin literature to perfect their literary forms belonged to the ___ period of literature.
Who were two authors who used satire to instruct the newly-educated masses?
-Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift