Elizabethan Drama

Elizabethan Drama



This was my term paper this year. It is on Elizabethan Drama. Feel free to use it as a source if you need to. I made a 96 on it, and I have a tough teacher. The only problem with it is that I somehow misplaced my documentation! Oops!! =(


The Elizabethan Age in the world occured in the sixteenth and seventeenth century in England. It is named for Queen Elizabeth, who is known mainly for her love of religion of the arts. The Elizabethan Age was most influential through its drama.
What are the most important aspects of Elizabethan Drama?

The Elizabethan Age in England showered the world with a burst of brilliant playwrights. Four of the most well-known of early Elizabethan playwrights were John Lyly, Thomas Kyd, Robert Greene, and Christopher Marlowe. John Lyly’s most famous work is “Endimion, Man in Moon.” Thomas Kyd is the author of “Spanish Tragedy.” Robert Greene is best known for “Friar Bacon Friar Bungay.” Many people think that Christopher Marlowe was the greatest of early Elizabethan writers. His most well-known play is “Doctor Faustus.” This play is about a man named Faustus who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for power on earth. Christopher Marlowe was born shortly before William Shakespeare. He was supposed to be a shoemaker. The Archbishop of Canterbury offered him a scholarship to Cambridge University, but Christopher avoided becoming shoemaker to enter the theater. He started writing plays for an acting company called the Admiral’s Men. His major literary works were tragedies, as lots of Elizabethan dramas were. Other than “Doctor Faustus”, his other two greatest works were “Tamburlaine” and “Jew of Malta.” Marlowe’s major literary achievements are the use of refined blank verse, spiritual drama, dramatic action, and the Rennaisance hero. He loved learning and hated ignorance. This was apparent in many of his literary works. Marlowe was a friend of Sir Walter Raleigh and a favorite of Queen Elizabeth, even though records show that Marlowe was not gentleman. Christopher Marlowe’s roommate accused him of atheism and treason, which were crimes in that time. Records show that he was involved in two tavern brawls. In one of the brawls, a man lost his life. In the other brawl, Marlowe was stabbed in the eye. He died three days later. Conspiracy has been suspected about his death. Marlowe, Lyly, Kyd, Greene are known as the University Wits. They defined the London Theater.

William Shakespeare wrote in the middle of the Elizabethan Period, and he is the most famous writer in the era; maybe the greatest of all time. His plays have very good plots, characterization, and backgrounds. Other than tragedy, which was the most common drama of the time, Shakespeare wrote great comedies, tragicomedies, and histories. His characters come alive, and they are admired and even envied by people. His plots are full of action. “Hamlet” was the most popular of his tragedies. Shakespeare’s most successful comedy was “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Perhaps his most famous tragicomedy was “The Tempest”. “Richard III” and Henry V” are two of Shakespeare’s histories that have been made into motion pictures. Shakespeare combined the best aspects of Elizabethan drama with classic drama. This enriched his imagination and humor. The age of Shakespeare was a great time in English history.

There are many important events that occurred during the Elizabethan Period. In approximately 1477, Caxton set up a printing press, and he printed the first books in England. Around 1500, “Everyman”, a morality play, was written and performed. In 1533, John Heywood’s “The Play of the Weather” was performed. A poetry collection called “Tottle’s Miscellany” was published in 1557. This work included Wyatt and Surrey’s sonnets. Besides drama, the sonnet is the epitome of literature in the Elizabethan period. In 1564, William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe were born. “The Theatre”, the first permanent structure for plays in England, was constructed in 1576. Christopher Marlowe directed his first play, “Tamburlaine”, in 1587. In 1590, Shakespeare directed his first play, “The Comedy of Errors.” Christopher Marlowe wrote “The Jew of Malta”a year later. He was killed in 1593. Shakespeare wrote “The Merchant of Venice” in 1597. In 1599, the Globe Theater was constructed. Shakespeare wrote “Macbeth” in 1605. He died in 1616.

Another very important aspect of Elizabethan Drama were the audiences. The audiences were always large and very excited at plays. The common people payed an equivalent to one penny to sit in the front fo the theater. Unless it was raining, these people had the best seats in the theater. The audience would participate in the play by cheering, hissing, or even throwing rotten vegetables. The audience would know that plays were about to be performed by a flag that rose over the theater.

The theater played an important role in this era. Without theaters, there would be nowhere for the play to be performed. There were two types of theaters: indoor and outdoor. Outdoor theaters were public theaters. “The Theatre” is an example of an outdoor theater. Indoor theaters were private theaters.

Elizabethan Actors were all male. Females were not allowed to act in the theater. All female parts were played by men whose voices had not changed yet. Actors had to have good memories, strong voices, and the ability to fence. Actors also had to have the ability to sing and dance. The costumes that the actors wore were very elaborate, but not historic.

Many special effects were used in the theater. Death scenes were very gory and realistic. To show an eye falling out, a grape would fall to the floor. Animal organs were used to show scenes where organs fell out of actors’ bodies.

The stage was the center of the theater. It had several levels. The lowest level of the stage was used for a number of things. Devils, ghosts, graves, and ditched are a few of them. The second level was the main stage. This is where the most important scenes were. The third level of the stage was a balcony. It was used for a number of things such as mountains or city walls. The fourth level of the stage was a series of pullys where angels, birds, and thunderbolts could be sent down from the main stage. The highest level was a room where the musicians were.

There is one aspect of Elizabethan Drama that still remains a mystery. Vocabulary in the Elizabethan Era was very different than it is now. Modern historians are not sure about all of the word meanings. This is why some of the phrases used are hard to understand.

Elizabethan Drama is a very important addition to the literature world and also to England. Drama is part of England’s heritage, and helps make them who they are.
The most important aspects of Elizabethan Drama are is playwrights, events, audiences, theaters, actors, speech, special effects, and the stage. These things make it up, and help keep it alive. Elizabethan Drama is very important in literature.


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