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THE RENAISSANCE (I): WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, THE GREAT NONCONFORMIST - CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ELIZABETHAN AGE

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THE RENAISSANCE (I): WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, THE GREAT NONCONFORMIST



CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ELIZABETHAN AGE

 

Ø      age of travelling, adventure, discovery, colonial expansion, initiative, prosperity, power, ambition, plotting, physical love

Ø      cult of life, belief in man’s possibilities, exuberance of mind, frenzied passions, violence, demonism, duality body/mind, extravagance, desire to taste everything

Ø      interest in science, geography ( the South), humanism, magic, form, image,  words, lyric tone ( blank verse )

Ø      influence of Plato, Aristotle (“live and die in Aristotle’s work“ Dr. Faustus ), Neo-Platonism, Erasmus, Montaigne

Ø      themes: how to succeed in life, how to master love, how to deal with death; explores man’s inability to live content in this world; rhetoric of wonder and curiosity; introduces the fantastic; new relationship with God and destiny; salvation / damnation

Ø      texts: cheap editions, sometimes no authors mentioned, published without permission, editors interfere, alternative variants, rewritings, no real experience of the text, flexibility

Ø      Chain of Being: microcosm vs. macrocosm

·         stones – being

·         plants - being and growing

·         animals - being, growing, sense

·         man- being, growing, sense, reason

·         angels - pure reason

·         God - pure actuality     

Ø      humours:  

            blood = air, hot and moist, spring

            choler = fire, hot and dry, summer

            melancholy = earth, cold and dry, autumn

i           phlegm = water, cold and moist, winter

 

ELIZABETHAN DRAMA: THE UNIVERSITY WITS

Ø      John Lyly, Thomas Nash, Thomas Lodge, Robert Greene, Thomas Kyd, George Peele, Christopher Marlowe

Ø      romantic comedy: Lyly, Endymion, Galathea

Ø      the revenge tragedy: Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy

Ø      chronicle plays: Peele, Edward I, Greene, James IV, Marlowe, Edward II

Ø      fall of princes tragedy: Marlowe ( 1564-1593 ) Tamburlaine the Great, Dr. Faustus

Christopher Marlowe ( 1564-1593)

DR. FAUSTUS

Ø      text A 1604, text B 1616

Ø      origin: ancient Jewish legend, German  folk books

Ø      practices of magic, misappropriation of magic to political ends, sin, love, authority, damnation, liberation

Ø      medieval sinner, Renaissance metaphysical adventurer modelled on ancient Christian rebels - Simon the Magus, Cyprian of Antioch - and Renaissance scientists - Paracelsus and Giordano Bruno

Ø      temptation of knowledge ( medicine, logic, engineering, optics, chemistry )  and occult secrets, intense curiosity, extravagant taste of profit , power and pleasure ( “ O what a world of profit and delight / Of power, of honour, of omnipotence”), humanist, free-thinker

Ø      suspending normal rules in magic

Ø      “omnia in unum “ - the essence common to all things in nature from stone to God (Paracelsus, Hermes Trismegistus )

Ø      discovery of the subconsciousness, eros -“ vinculum vinculorum “ - an energy controlling the macrocosm and microcosm ( Giordano Bruno )

Ø      Lucifer, Mephistopheles: modern Renaissance characters

Ø      Thomas Healy “ the Marlowe effect “, Peter Conrad: “ a play about the prostitution of fantasy ”,“ imperialism of greed “ ;     

Ø      intertext from Marlowe to Chamisso, Lenau, Heine, Goethe, Byron, Valéry, Thomas Mann, Victor Eftimiu

DR: FAUSTUS

Scene 1

Faustus: Divinity, adieu!

These necromantic books are heavenly,

Lines, circles, scenes, letters and characters:

Ay, these are those that Faustus most desires.

Oh, what a world of profit and delight,

Of power, of honour, of omnipotence,

Is promised to the studious artisan!

All things that move between the quiet poles

Shall be at my command. Emperors and kings



Nor can they raise the wind or rend the clouds.

But his dominion that exceeds in this

Stretcheth as far as doth the mind of man:

A sound magician is a demi-god.

Here, tire my brains to get a deity.

Scene 14.

Faustus: Ah Faustus,

Now hast thou but one bare hour to live,

And then thou must be damned perpetually.

Stand still, you ever-moving spheres of heaven,

That time may cease and midnight never come.

Fair nature=s eye, rise, rise again, and make

Perpetual day. Or let this hour be but

A year, a month, a week, a natural day,

That Faustus may repent and save his soul.

O lente, lente, currite noctis equi.

The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike.

The devil will come, and Faustus must be damned.

Oh, I=ll leap op to my God: who pulls me down?

See, see where Christ=s blood streams in the firmament.

One drop would save my soul, half a drop. Ah, my Christ!

Ah, rent not my heart for naming of my Christ!

Yet will I call him. Oh, spare me, Lucifer!

Where is it now? >Tis gone:

And see where God stretcheth out his arm,

And bends his ireful brows.

Mountains and hills, come, come, and fall on me,

And hide me from the heavy wrath of God.

No, no. Then will I headlong run into the earth.

Earth, gape! Oh no, it will not harbour me.

You stars that reigned at my nativity,

Whose influence hath allotted death and hell,

Now draw up Faustus like a foggy mist

Into the entrails of yon labouring cloud,

Than when you vomit forth into the air

My limbs may issue from your smoky mouths,

So that my soul may but ascend to heaven.

The watch strikes.

Ah! Half the hour is past,

>Twill all be past anon.

Oh God, if thou wilt not have mercy on my soul,

Yet, for Christ=s sake whose blood hath ransomed me,

Impose some end to my incessant pain.

Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years,

A hundred thousand, and at last be saved.

Oh, no end is limited to damned soul.

Why wert thou not a creature wanting soul?

Or why is this immortal that thou hast?

Ah, Pythagoras= metempsychosis, were that true

This soul should fly from me, and I be changed

Unto some brutish beast.

All beasts are happy, for when they die

Their souls are soon dissolved in elements,

But mine must live still to be plagued in hell.

Cursed be the parents that engendered me!

No, Faustus, curse thyself, curse Lucifer,

That hath deprived thee of the joys of heaven.

The clock strikes twelve.

Oh, it strikes, it strikes! Now body turn to air,

Or Lucifer will bear thee quick to hell.

Thunder and lightning.

Oh soul, be changed into little water drops

And fall into the ocean, ne=er be found.

Thunder. Enter the Devils.

My God, my God, look not so fierce on me.

Adders and serpents, let me breathe awhile.

Ugly hell, gape not, come not, Lucifer!

I=ll burn my books. Ah, Mephostophilis!

Exeunt with him.

Text available at http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Texts/faustus.html,

Text and comments available at http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/doctorfaustus/

SHAKESPEARE’S LIFE

Ø      born on 23 April, 1564

Ø      in  1582 marries Anne Hathaway, b. 1556

Ø      three children: Susanna (1583 - 1649 ), Hamnet ( 1585-1596 ) and Judith ( 1585-1662 )

Ø      leaves for London in 1585

Ø      1592 actor and playwright at the Globe Robert Greene: “ an upstart Crow”, “in his own conceit the only shake-scene in the country”

Ø      1595 The Lord Chamberlain’s Men




Ø      1598 mentioned as an actor in one of Ben Jonson’s plays

Ø      1599 a shareholder at the Globe

Ø      1601, 1602, 1604, 1613 buys land and houses in Stratford

Ø      1611 returns to Stratford as a rich man

Ø      dies in 1616

Ø      Anne dies in 1623

THE SHAKESPEAREAN CANON

Ø      dating: external sources, internal sources, style

Ø      37 plays, 18 in Quarto form

Ø      1623 First Folio

Ø      1591:Henry VI, Richard III, Titus Andronicus,  Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew

             1594: Richard II, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice

1597-1600: Henry IV, Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, Julius Caesar, Troilus and Cressida

1601: The Merry Wives of Windsor, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, All’s Well that Ends Well, Othello

            1606: Timon of Athens, Macbeth, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus

            1609: Pericles

            1611: Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, The Tempest

THE SHAKESPEAREAN APOCRYPHA

Shakespeare and John Fletcher ( c. 1613 )

The History of Cardenio ( lost )

Henry VIII  or All is True - the firing of a cannon burned the Globe in 1613, July 4

The Two Noble Kinsmen ( pr. 1634 )

Sir Thomas More

FEATURES OF HIS PLAYS

Ø       originality: borrowed subjects, but original treatment of the plot. Examples:

OTHELLO: Giambattista Cinthio ( Gli Ecatommiti-The Hundred Tales ) 1565, tr. French 1584

ROMEO AND JULIET: Bandello, Arthur Brooke ( The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet)

MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM: Ovid, Chaucer, Reginald Scot   (Discovery of Witchcraft )

Ø      realism

Ø      themes: public world of affairs, wars and politics vs. private world of love and family; Eros vs. Thanatos; sense of integration vs. sense of fragmentation; thought vs. action; men vs. women

Ø      plot: inner crisis, cumulative and supernatural elements

Ø      characters: prodigality of output, impartiality, vital force, development, women, generation gap

Ø      language: artificial, complex, allegorical, poetic, comic/tragic, verse / prose, songs

Ø      objectivity. Notice the different opinions on life expressed by the following characters and think whether you can find out which one is Shakespeare’s:

Hamlet (Hamlet): “ There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than there are dreamt of in your philosophy.” (I.5.166-167)

Prospero (The Tempest): “ We are such stuff

As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.“ (IV.1.156-158)

Jacques (As You Like It):         “ All the world’s a stage,

            And all the men and women merely players.” ( II.7. 139-140)

Macbeth (Macbeth): “ Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player

   That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

   And then is heard no more: it is a tale

    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury

    Signifying nothing ! “ (V. 5. 24-28)

Ø      Theatres: The Theatre , outside the City, James Burbage, 1576-7;     The Blackfriars, The Swan, The Rose; The Globe - the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, Richard Burbage, 1599, 3,000 spectators, burnt down in 1613, reconstructed, pulled down in 1644, rebuilt in 1992.

Ø      Indications given by Hamlet to actors: “ Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you - trippingly on the tongue; but if you  mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the towncrier had spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently; for in the very torrent , tempest and as I may say the whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. O, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious, periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb shows and noise. // Pray you, avoid it.   ( Hamlet, III, 2, 1-15).

Plays and concordances available at http://www.opensourceshakespeare.com/search/search-results.php

                    








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