Unit 2
English Renaissance
British Literature
Mrs. Wetzel
2013
Elizabethan Period
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English Renaissance also called Elizabethan Era
Named for Queen Elizabeth I, ruled for 45 years
Time of English Renaissance
-expansion of British domination overseas
-rising Nationalism and imperialism (until 20th c)
-growth in arts and sciences
-civil order enforced
Elizabethan Period cont’d
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London grew 5x its medieval size
Trade with Asia
Increase in middle class
-schools/education available for all
Poetry
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Less narrative and more personal
Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard
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Brought influence of Petrarchan sonnet
14 lines
 Octet and sestet
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Difficult to translate
 Sir Phillip Sydney introduced variation of sonnet
 Perfected by Shakespeare, called Shakespearean
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Pastoral Poetry
Christopher Marlow
Bucolic in subject matter
Highly stylized with language
Lyrical and emotional
Focus on love and idealized country setting
--Sir Walter Raleigh’s reply
Sonnets
Petrarchan (Milton does variations of these)
Spenserian
Shakespearean
--all 14 lines
--various rhyme schemes
--all have twist/turning point
--common themes of love and beauty
Metaphysical Poets
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Comes later
Appeals to mind not emotion
Speculates about philosophy
The poems are tightly woven with dense meaning
Use of conceit, an extended metaphor
John Donne, most prominent
Often religious themes
Language often colloquial
Cavalier Poets
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Under the leadership of Stuarts, after Elizabeth
Ben Jonson, literary leader of the time
Robert Herrick, adopted the Roman carpe diem
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Hesperides poems
Prose
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Development of the essay
Dominant figures
Bacon
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Drama
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Flowered during the Elizabethan period
Began as mini-plays in Latin
Pope Urban 4th established Corpus Christi
festivals
Similar to Greek and Roman theatre although
the Elizabethans knew little about them
Shakespeare and Marlow dominant figures of
time
Drama cont’d
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Acting guilds developed 14th-16th centuries
Morality plays progressed into ‘drama’
Professional acting troupes develop and theatres
are built
Tragedy
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Tragedy is literary term for drama with serious and
important actions and often disastrous results for
protagonist
Aristotle defines as “serious actions complete in self”
Catharsis: sympathetic reaction in audience has a
purifying result
Tragic flaw– what causes protagonist’s downfall, often
hubris
In Macbeth, we see influence of Senecan drama
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Involves revenge, murder, mutilation, and ghosts
Elizabethan tragedy and tragic
heroes
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Member of power class by birth, conquest, or usurpation
More fully realized human, heightened powers and destiny
Fate in combination of what others do and what he does
Individualist
Represents universal human kind
Intelligent and sensitive
Learns through suffering
Isolated
Shows personal courage in accepting death/defeat
“Freytag Pyramid” for tragic
structure
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Act 1– exposition
Act 2– rising action
Act 3– turning point
Act 4– falling action
Act 5– catastrophe
The true story…
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Differences between play and history
Knew little of 1044 Scotland in England 1606
Duncan I, king in 1034 after killing grandfather
Macbeth kills Duncan and rules for 17 years
1057, Malcolm raised army with help of English and
defeated Macbeth
Shakespeare got his story from Holinshed Chronicles
In the history books, Macbeth’s wife is hardly
mentioned
Macbeth, the play
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Written in 1606
Written for James I of England (who was James VI of
Scotland)
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Scottish ancestry, descendent of Banquo-Fleance line
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Some question on the legitimacy of this claim
Shakespeare polished the history for a more positive view
Fascinated by witches/supernatural, after three women
confessed to witchcraft to try to sink his ship– the women
were burned
Just after a plot to murder king, relevant theme
Supports divine authority of king
Macbeth, the play (cont’d)
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One of the last tragedies Shakespeare wrote
An action-packed, psychological thriller
Simple in plot structure: rise and fall of man
Most complex and probing study of hero
Weaves symbolism, imagery, and irony
Written primarily in blank verse
Addresses the self-defeating character of evil
Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most compelling
characters; this is one of his greatest tragedies.
The question for you is WHY???????
Themes
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Things are not what they seem
Blind ambition
Power corrupts
The power of superstition on human behavior
What other themes do you see?
Literary Devices
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Allusion– mythological and Biblical
Figurative language– imagery, similes,
metaphors, personification, alliteration
Symbolism
Foreshadowing
Dramatic irony
Ambiguity
Lady Gruoch Macbeth
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What motivates her?
Wants to deny her femininity
Abuses husband
What does her character reveal about
Shakespeare’s belief of women?
Historically she was married to Gillacomgain;
Macbeth killed him, married her, and raised son
Lulach
The Witches
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Appropriate given interest in topic by James I
In Shakespeare’s time many believed in witches
Called “Weird Sisters” a reference to Holinshed’s Chronicles, but
referred to as goddesses of fate
Shakespeare presents them as typical witches
Reminiscent of the three Fates of Greek myth and three Norns
of Norse myth
Instruments of darkness
Manifestations of evil in the world
Tempters… they appeal to what Macbeth wants to believe
Symbols of the potential for evil in the human imagination
A permanent feature of landscape; they are not defeated
To think about as you read
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What makes this a tragedy? What makes Macbeth a
tragic character/hero?
Why does Macbeth do what he does? What role does
Lady Macbeth (Gruoch) play?
What psychological things are happening in play?
What is the relationship between Macbeth and his wife?
How are they alike? How are they different?
Is humanity fundamentally amoral?