The Renaissance period of British Literature - 1485-1660

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Content:

  • world view shifts from religion and after life to one stressing the human life on earth
  • popular theme: development of human potential
  • popular theme: many aspects of love explored
  • unrequited love
  • constant love
  • timeless love
  • courtly love
  • love subject to change

Style/Genres:

  • poetry
    • sonnet
  • drama
    • written in verse
    • supported by royalty
    • tragedies, comedies, histories
  • metaphysical poetry
    • elaborate and unexpected metaphors called conceits

Effect:  

  • commoners welcomed at some play productions (like ones at the Globe) while conservatives try to close the theaters on grounds that they promote brazen behaviors
  • not all middle-class embrace the metaphysical poets and their abstract conceits

Historical Context:

  • War of Roses ends in 1485 and political stability arrives
  • Printing press helps stabilize English as a language and allows more people to read a variety of literature
  • Economy changes from farm-based to one of international trade

Key Literature/Authors:

  • William Shakespeare
  • John Donne
  • Cavalier Poets
  • Metaphysical Poets
  • Christopher Marlowe
  • Andrew Marvell

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What are the themes of the renaissance literature with references to william shakespear and ben johnson