Commentary by Christopher L.
The crown seized the properties and wealth of the monasteries, and England was thrown into a kind of religious identity crisis over the next few decades, as successive monarchs shifted the country back and forth from Catholicism to Protestantism several times.
Each of these shifts was accompanied by danger, persecution, and death.
After the defeat of the Spanish Armada inthe country along with its Protestant religion had established itself as a political power within Europe, and embarked upon a process of imperial expansion. Simultaneously, there was a great flowering in literature, classical studies, historiography, geography and philosophy, which has made the Elizabethan era practically synonymous with the English Renaissance.
Any doubts—and they were expressed often—about the capacity of a female monarch to rule effectively were, if not put to rest, at least exposed as unfounded by the multiple achievements of her long reign. Elizabeth, known as the Virgin Queen, died without issue, having spent her reign skillfully playing various suitors and factions against each other for political gain while remaining unmarried throughout—on her deathbed in she appointed James VI of Scotland as her successor, and he was crowned James I of England, the first English monarch of the Stuart dynasty, ruling until his death in The Jacobean era saw the country continue to emerge as a colonial and trading power, both westwards in Ireland and North America, and eastwards in Asia.
In the latter texts, he articulated his belief in an absolutist theory of monarchy and the divine right of kings, desiring to command not only complete obedience but also complete devotion, which would lead to difficulties in his relations with the Parliament.
While both monarchs were to some extent popular and inspired the devotion of their subjects, the changes set in motion by Henry VIII continued to have far-reaching effects. At the same time, political pressures continued both from outside and within, with anxieties about foreign espionage and expansion, and internal treachery and power games.
The social structure and geography of the country as a whole was being reorganized, and the possibilities for social advancement opened up, through a combination of factors, including the dissolution of the monasteries and their land- holdings, along with increased opportunities resulting from the expansion of trade and exploration, and the rise of London as a commercial center.
He was undoubtedly a product of his age: This latter world, while it featured writers with literary aspirations, was distinctly separate from the world of literature: The momentous transformation of the rich theatrical traditions of England into the commercial theatre of the late s was closely linked to the transformation of London into a commercial center, and the attendant population explosion from c.
If Shakespeare is considered one of the greatest writers, then King Lear is often considered one of his greatest works. Along with plays such as Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Othello, and Macbeth, Lear has established its creator not only as one of the great tragedians, measured alongside the ancient Greeks, but as the foremost representative of a great age of tragedy, comparable again to fifth- century Athens.
Again, such a view is worth considering closely—it is not to diminish the power and artistry of these works to acknowledge their differences both from Athenian tragedy and from our later conceptions of tragedy.
These plays were not produced in conjunction with religious festivals, and they were in competition with each other only insofar as the companies that staged them sought to maximize their share of the theatrical audience. The theater of early modern London was however similar to that of ancient Athens in terms of the interrelationships between playwrights who were composing as part of a complex dramatic community that existed both synchronically and diachronically.
Shakespeare was not a solitary genius, composing plays in isolation, but both influenced and was influenced by other playwrights such as Kyd, Marlowe, Jonson, Middleton, and Webster, sometimes working for the same company, sometimes for competing companies, sometimes collaborating on the same play, a common practice at the time.
In this kind of rich environment, where the demand for entertainment led to ever-increasing numbers of plays, where audience tastes could shift from one week to the next, and where theatrical companies thus had to remain flexible in order to maintain their edge, dramatic genres such as tragedy or comedy were never fixed or unified as they would later become.
The range of influences on early modern tragedy includes classical tragic theories and texts alongside medieval dramas and moral philosophy, and any notion of what tragedy consisted of as a genre was pretty much worked out in practice on the stage, rather than in theory.
King Lear in historical context As its title suggests, King Lear is a play about kingship, written during a period when the monarchy was of central importance, and the role of the monarch was under constant scrutiny and subject to endless theorization. In the s, Shakespeare often dwelt on the nature of monarchy, and the history plays of the period can be read not just as historical narratives featuring kings, but also as meditations on monarchical rule.
The two Richard plays explore the limits and abuses of such rule and the possibilities for its overthrow, the Henry IV plays deal with the issue of succession, while Henry V focuses on the role of king as national figurehead.
In Lear, we see Shakespeare tackle the issue of patriarchal monarchy, where the king is figured as head of both his own family and of the state, a staple of Jacobean understandings of the relationship between monarch and country that saw in it an analogy to the relationship between a patriarch and his household.
While Lear may have been a ruler of almost mythical status from ancient Britain, King Lear articulates pressing contemporary concerns about the power of early modern kings.
The Norton Shakespeare, ed. The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare, ed. I love your majesty According to my bond; no more nor less.
Cordelia speaks these words when she address her father, King Lear, who has demanded that his daughters tell him how much they love him before he divides his kingdom among them 1.
In contrast to the empty flattery of Goneril and Regan, Cordelia offers her father a truthful evaluation of her love for him: Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law My services are bound.
Wherefore should I Stand in the plague of custom, and permit The curiosity of nations to deprive me, For that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines Lag of a brother? Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed, And my invention thrive, Edmund the base Shall top the legitimate.Her first soliloquy in Act one scene five reveals much about this complex and dark character.
The fact that she speaks in verse immediately informs the audience that she is a noblewoman of high status and the fact that she is able to read the letter from her husband confirms that she is educated.
Shakespeare Magazine is free to absolutely anyone in the world – although it would certainly help if you understand English, have internet access and are interested in Shakespeare. Act 1, Scene 1 Antony and Cleopatra begins in Cleopatra's palace in Alexandria.
Demetrius and Philo, two of Antony's veteran soldiers, complain that Antony's infatuation with Cleopatra has had a bad effect on his qualities as a general. The Shakespeare authorship question is the argument that someone other than William Shakespeare of –), written with John Fletcher, Shakespeare has two characters meet and leaves them on stage at the end of one scene, yet Fletcher has them act as if they were meeting for the which shocked the public with its scepticism of the.
Royal Shakespeare: a playwright and his king Article created by: Andrew Dickson; Themes: Power, politics and religion Act 5, Scene 1 by Thomas Kirk. View images from this item (24) Perhaps most fascinating among these early Jacobean dramas is Macbeth, known in the theatre to this day as the ‘Scottish play’.
On the face of it, the. No, Iago,” (act 3, scene 3, Lines ) . Even Desdemona accepts that the fact that Othello is black.
Even Desdemona accepts that the fact that Othello is black. But, then, Othello thinks that he may in fact be a bit more jealous and suspicious of his wife than he lets on.