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4/05/2019

Elizabethan age as the golden age in the history of English Literature.


The Elizabethan Age (1558-1603) is generally regarded as the greatest era in the history of English literature. It is important
historically and economically. It is a pregnant age of literature. Every
branch of literature is produced in profusion. Poetry, drama, essay and criticism are written with the utmost development in this period. Thomas Kyd, Sir Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare are the immortal figures in the history of English literature. John Lyly, George Peele, Robert Greene and other University Wits have composed many dramas. Francis Bacon becomes the father of modern essay. Thomas Nashe contributes a great lot to write a kind of picaresque novel. So the Elizabethan Age is truly the Golden Age of English literature.

The Elizabethan Age is memorable in politics of Queen Elizabeth. It is memorable in the various forms of literature too. Experiment in almost all branches of literature was going on. We notice the extended excellence that we found in the time of Reformation. Poetry, drama, novel, essay and criticism reach their
pinnacle of excellence in this period. The poetry of the Elizabethan age is different from other periods. It is original in form and style Lyrics and songs, sonnets and epic are absolutely incomparable Edmund Spenser and William Shakespeare represent and dominate this period. Their contribution is immeasurable. They have created a true flavour of romanticism in poetry for the first time. They are able to maintain and hold the features of the Renaissance in their work.

To prove this age as golden age we want to show the famous writers of this age and their golden contribution to English literature.

Edmund Spenser:
Edmund Spenser is the greatest poet of the Elizabethan Age. He is called the poet of the poets. He is also called the 'Prince of Poets in his Time'. He has written songs, sonnets, hymns, epithalamiums and prothalamion. “The Shepherds Calendar” is his very popular poem. It makes him known to be a great poet. It is written in is modelled on the artificial pastoral. It is inspired by Virgil and Theocritus, Bion and Marot. It is a pastoral. It is a series of twelve short pastoral poems. “Astrophel” is written in 1586. It is an allegory of the life and death of Sir Philip Sidney.

“The Faerie Queene” is the masterpiece of Edmund Spenser. It is an incomparable creation in English literature. The poet has
composed it for twenty years. He came to Wilton from Ireland in 1582. Then he began to compose this famous epic. The epic was published in 1590 (st three parts). Second three parts published in 1596. The two cantos of the second three parts published in 1609.
“The Faerie Queene” is an allegory. It has five kinds of allegory. The
allegories are moral allegory, political allegory, spiritual allegory, chivalric allegory and Aristotelian allegory. “Amoretti” is a series of 88 sonnets. Here the poet describes the progress of his love for Elizabeth Boyle whom he married in 1594. Spenser has written"Four Hymns" in 1596.

William Shakespeare:
William Shakespeare is the greatest dramatist and poet of the Elizabethan Age. His poetry is prominently displayed in his plays which are poetic dramas. It is generally asserted that if Shakespeare had written no plays, his poems alone would have given him a commanding place in the Elizabethan Age. He is incomparable and matchless. He has written three volumes of poetry. They are “Venus and Adonis” (1593), “The Rape of Lucree” (1534) and “The Sonnet” (1609). He has written 154 sonnets. His plays are replete with lyrical songs which are remarkable for their melody and picture.

Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, Twelfth Night and As You Like It are such plays which display Shakespeare's highly lyrical genius.

Sir Philip Sidney
In addition to Spenser and Shakespeare, we find some other
poets. Sir Philip Sidney is one of them. He has written important
Arcadia and Astrophel and Stella. Astrophel and Stella is a collection
of sonnets. In this volume, there are 108 sonnets. Samuel Daniel has
written a collection of sonnets, The Civil Wars Delia,

Michael Drayton
is romantic in idealism. He has written lyrics and sonnets.

Christopher Marlowe is the pioneer of the blank verse or mighty line.
He is the greatest of Shakespeare's predecessors. He may be regarded as the true founder of English drama. As a poet, he has written "Hero and Leander" and "Passionate Shepherd to His Love".

John Donne is the most independent of the Elizabethan poets. He is the last great poet of the Elizabethan Period. He is the leader
Metaphysical poets. His works can be classified into love poetry, religious poetry, elegies and satires. He is the first writer of dramatic
monologues. He has started writing poetry in this period. But almost
all his volumes of poetry were published after his death in 1631. He
has written in this period Songs and Sonnets (published 1633). The
Elegies (written about 1590s, published in 1633), The Satires (15
1598) and The Progress of the Soul (1601).

Golden Time For Drama
Drama has occupied the best position in the Elizabethan Age. It is flourished by the master hands of the University Wits and Shakespeare. Thomas Kyd, Marlowe, Nashe, Greene, Lyly and Peele are called University Wits. Thomas Kyd has written The Spanish Tragedy. It is written in 1589. It is the greatest drama of the Elizabethan Age. It is a revenge tragedy. Christopher Marlowe has been rightly called the father of English tragedy. Before him, the
English drama was in a chaotic state. He has written four serious plays in this period. They are Doctor Faustus (1588), Tamburlaine
the Great, The Jew of Malta (1589) and Edward-II (1593). Doctor Faustus is the greatest tragedy of Christopher Marlowe. It is written in blank verse.

William Shakespeare in Drama
William Shakespeare is a world famous dramatist. We know that he has written 37 plays in his poetic career. But among them, he has written only 25 plays in the Elizabethan Age. Among them,
Henry-IV (1st part), Henry-IV (2nd part), Henry-IV (3d part), Richard-III, The Comedy of Errors, Titus Andronicus, The Taming
of the Shrew, Love's Labour's Lost, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Two Gentlemen Of Verona, King John, Richard-11, Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, Henry-iv (1st Part), Henry-IV (2nd Part), Much Ado About Nothing, Henry-V, Julius Caesar, The Merry Wives of Windsor, As You Like It and
Twelfth Night are remarkable. They can be divided into pure tragedy, pure comedy, tragi-comedy, dark comedy or sombre comedy and historical plays.

University Wits
John Lyly is the foremost among the University Wits. The Elizabethan comedy was enriched by the contributions of Lyly Greene and Peele. His writings are “Campaspe”, “Sapho and Phao”, “Midas and Endymion”. Robet Greene is a university wit. His plays are “Friar Bacon” and “Friar Bangay”, “James-IV”, “Alphossus”, “The
Looking Glass for London and England” and “Orlando”. George Peele is a university wit. He writes “David and Bathsabe” and “Arraignment of Paris”. Among English men of letters, Ben Jonson is a unique figure in many ways. He is an actor and a playwright. He has written only one play in this period. “Every Man in His Humour’ is that drama. Cyril Tourneur has written only one play in this period. It
is “The Revenger's Tragedy” in 1600.

Prose Writing
To sum up, we may add that Francis Bacon is a scholar and philosopher. He is famous for his prose writing. He is called the father of English essay. He has started writing in this period. He has published “Essays” in 1597. Thomas Nashe has written many pamphlets, "The Anatomy of Absurdities" (1589), "Christs Tears
over Jerusalem" (1593) and others. He is famous for his novel about travelling. The name of the novel is “The Unfortunate Traveller” or “The Life of Jack Wilton” (1594). Thomas Lodge followed John Lyly.
He is a novelist. He has written “Rosalynde”. In the field of literary criticism, we cannot but mention “An Apology for Poetry” by Sir Philip Sidney. Thus we find only the measure of important writers and their writings. This measure proves that the Elizabethan Age is the Golden Age of English literature. The period is golden, technically perfect and innovative too.

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