, Research Paper
The Spirit of Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Times
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, English culture was at its greatest. England during the Elizabethan Age saw a rebirth of literature, in large part because of William Shakespeare. Shakespeare?s writings had all the characteristics of Elizabethan life.
The Elizabethan Age (1558-1603) was called so, because of the length of Queen Elizabeth?s reign. It was also called the age of Shakespeare (1569-1616) because of his influence on literature during that time.
These were lively, energetic times, during which there was a cultural Renaissance. Queen Elizabeth loved drama and poetry and because of that, many writers during her rule were able to do well and also receive financial support from the wealthy.
These times also had many social classes. These social classes usually would never have mixed. But because of the theatre, all kinds of people came together. ?Playwrights found themselves writing for highly diverse audiences which reflected the ever changing make up and energy of society?
Shakespeare?s dramas had to be written in a way so that the subject matter would appeal to a wide audience. ?The most successful playwrights of the day, such as Shakespeare, made certain that their dramas included ?Something for everybody?.?
The people during Elizabethan times were hungry for information. This eagerness to know about everything that was going on at the moment was because the Queen had made the people feel very close to her and to her government. Shakespeare, who understood instinctively what this meant, used his plays as way to inform the public about everything from social issues to politics, but of course he did it in a very amusing and interesting way. ?-this was a fiercely individualistic people who felt connected, through the peculiarly populist instincts of the Queen and government, with events.?
For the Elizabethans, and for Shakespeare, war was a very scary thing. But it also had an exciting quality to it. ?Shakespeare, simplifies military leaders, emphasizing their headline appeal. Endowing them with his wit, his popular easy power, his gift of imagery, he makes them versions or copies of himself, reflecting his own observation and experience of war.? Shakespeare would show all sides of the war in his historical plays, without revealing too much of what actually went on, on the inside.
The Elizabethans had also discovered the Greek and Roman classics. New versions were made, so that they could be acted out on stage. Shakespeare had seen these new versions of Greek and Roman tragedies and comedies. He recognized many similarities to what was going on in the English royalty family. ?Family passion, revenge, envy, all the local, domestic springs of popular and entertaining plays, were the generative forces of world politics.? Shakespeare was able to transform and adapt all of these emotions into his plays.
At some point during Queen Elizabeth?s time in power, there was a great deal of religious tension. The Church of England had been established. Not wanting to offend anybody, Elizabeth aimed to bring Protestants and Catholics together. These were years when the people were unsure which way to go spiritually or politically. ?Queen Elizabeth?s remarkable reign was a balancing act between opposing forces in these arenas, but she could do little to reconcile the real differences.? Shakespeare was definitely in that respect also a product of his time. On the outside he conformed but on the inside he felt the religious confusion of his era. ?He had always remained as much a competitive nationalist as an inwardly persuaded Catholic. He delighted in playing to the chauvinist crowd-which did not itself care much either way in the great religious divide.? These were spiritual times, which Shakespeare would convey in his literary works.
Shakespeare really showed us what the spirit of the Elizabethan times was. ?He created the most vivid characters of the Elizabethan- or any other-stage . His usage of language , both lofty and low ,shows remarkable wit and subtlety. Most importantly, his themes are so universal that they transcend generations to stir the imagination of audiences everywhere to this day.?
These were times of prosperity and optimism, which influenced all of the cultural aspects of this period, in addition to of course the literary works.. This was a time of constant changes. ?No ivory tower poet , he was quick to catch and assimilate a new voice.?
Shakespeare was able to identify what the people were feeling and thinking and show it in his literary works. He always tried to keep his audience delighted, and keep their imaginations going. He was very observant and completely understood the human condition of the Elizabethan Age.
shakespeare by olivia krinton