Literary Periods & Authors

John Milton

  I. Biography: 1. A highly self-conscious poet: resemblance with Edmund Spenser (beginning with the pastoral and ending with the epic) In his self positioning as a national bard: Speaking for the whole nation. In his pursuit of the ideal poetic career: highly knowledgeable and linguistically versatile. 2. Coming from the background of wealthy bourgeoisie. From the Anglican Church to ...

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George Herbert

  I. Biography: 1. Derived from a wealthy, aristocratic family. 2. His advancement in the University. 3. His earnestness with the pastoral duty II. The major theme of his religious lyrics: 1. The tensions and anxieties in his relationships to God: as that of friend with friend, but essentially unequal. 2. Inability for his poems to praise God. 3. A ...

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John Webster

  I. Webster’s contribution to Renaissance Drama: 1. Combination of sublime poetry and lurid gothic horror. 2. Creation of rebellious, independent, sexually active heroines. 3. Vision of a metaphysically dark, morally corrupt, death-ridden world II. II Themes of the play The Duchess of Malfi 1. Flattery and corruption of the court. 2. The Duchess’s self-assertion in sexual matters. 3. Bosola as ...

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Ben Jonson

  I. Biography 1. The first literary writers to published his collection of works: against the literary norm. 2. A tough and turbulent early years: joining a war, imprisoned for murder, converting to Catholicism (though returning to the Church of England later) 3. Establishing himself in the court and the theatre: composing masques and popular plays (comedy of humors: Every ...

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John Donne

  I. Biography: 1. An outsider all his life: born in a Catholic household, but converted to the English Church at young ages (with satires on the corruption of British social life and soul-searching quest for true religion; with witty representations of himself as a master in the bedroom or as an adventurer in love elegies). 2. Hope of advancement ...

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The Early Seventeenth Century (Stuart Kings; Jacobean or Caroline Age)

  I. Transition in political power: 1. The tensions between the monarch and his people; between England and Scotland. 2. The unpopular Stuart kings: endorsing royal absolutism and in constant conflict with the Parliament. 3. The indecorous and disorderly court: constantly in financial crisis but still a center of literary patronage. II. Mounting religious tensions: 1. Disruption of religious toleration: ...

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William Shakespeare

  Biography: 1. Almost nothing known about his youth: except his early gunshot marriage. 2. Fruitful connection with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later the King’s Men: emerging out of hostile circumstances and moving into the Globe or the Blackfriars. 3. Profusion and Confusion of the editions of his works: quartos and folio. 4. Classification of his plays (roughly chronologically ordered): ...

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Christopher Marlowe

  I. Biography: 1. Son of a shoemaker, graduate of Cambridge: 2. Probably a spy or agent provocateur serving the Queen: 3. Short life ended in a tavern brawl, probably an assassination politically provoked II. Theatrical Career: 1. Tragedies with overreachers as their principal characters: demonstrating boundless energy and ambition—the impulse to strive ceaselessly for absolute power Tamburlaine for absolute ...

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Elizabethan Theatre

  I. Violation of generic purity and “dramatic unities”: 1. Mingling of the “high” and “low” elements: 2. Ignoring the principles of “unities” of plot, time, space: II. The emergence of freestanding, permanent public theatre & a rich vital theatrical tradition: 1. The tradition of mystery plays and morality plays: which Protestants resented 2. The tradition of organized wandering companies ...

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Philip Sidney

  I. Biography: 1. The most beloved courtier of the Elizabethan court: legends born after his death 2. Ardent Protestantism: an eyewitness of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day, thus strengthening his Protestant faith 3. An active patron of letters: Edmund Spenser as the primary beneficiary 4. An un-favored courtier: distrusted by the Queen, banished for his strong opposition to ...

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