This article will provide you an insight to the age of Elizabethan era and the Jacobean era and its characteristics with reference to English literature. If you are a literature student, pursuing MA in English or preparing for UGC NET English Literature, then you should definitely check out this.
The Elizabethan And Jacobean Ages
- Also known as the Age of Shakespeare.
- The Elizabethan and Jacobean periods are collectively called the Age of Shakespeare.
- The golden age of literature spanned from Elizabeth’s accession in 1558 to James I’s death in 1625.
- An era of peace, economic prosperity, stability, liberty, and exploration.
- A period marked by contemplation and action.
- Witnessed unprecedented developments in art, literature, and drama.
Characteristics Of Elizabethan And Jacobean Age
Political Peace And Stability
- Elizabeth pursued a policy of balance and moderation both domestically and internationally.
- Successfully reached a compromise with Scotland and controlled rebellious northern barons.
- Brought peace to historically troubled border regions.
- Her able administration led to rapid and steady progress in English national life.
- Marked by great social contentment and prosperity.
- The rapid growth of industrial towns provided employment opportunities.
- Increasing trade and commerce enriched England.
- Wealthy individuals were taxed to support the less fortunate, fostering a conducive atmosphere for literary activities.
- Elizabeth’s reign witnessed religious tolerance.
- The nation was divided upon her accession, with the North being largely Catholic and the South strongly Protestant.
- Scotland embraced the Reformation fervently, while Ireland maintained its traditional religion.
- Elizabeth established the Anglican Church as a compromise between Catholicism and Protestantism.
- Her policy of religious tolerance united Englishmen, freeing them from religious fears and persecutions, encouraging creative activities, and stimulating literary endeavors.
Sense Of Patriotism
- An age characterized by patriotism.
- Queen Elizabeth’s deep love for England made her court one of the most brilliant in Europe.
- The splendor of her court captivated the people.
- Her moderate policies enhanced her popularity and prestige.
- Worship of the Virgin Queen became prevalent, with poets like Spenser, Raleigh, and Shakespeare paying tribute.
- Elizabeth inspired unbounded patriotism, resulting in Shakespeare’s work and the Faerie Queene.
- English national life progressed rapidly under her administration, propelling English literature to its peak.
Discovery, Exploration, and Expansion
- A remarkable era for expanding both mental and geographical horizons. Marked by great thought and action, appealing to the eye, imagination, and intellect.
- New knowledge poured in from various sources.
- Renowned explorers like Hawkins, Frobisher, Raleigh, and Drake brought treasures from the East and West.
- The spirit of adventure and exploration ignited writers’ imaginations.
- A spirit of action and adventure led to the development of dramatic literature, making it an illustrious era for drama.
- Often called the age of discovery of the new world and of man.
Influence Of Foreign Fashions
- Italy, the home of the Renaissance, captivated the Elizabethans.
- People were drawn not only to Italian books and literature but also to Italian manners and morals.
- English literature benefited significantly from imitating Italian classics.
Contradictions And Set Of Oppositions
- An age marked by great diversity and contradictions.
- Simultaneously an age of light and darkness, reason and unreason, wisdom and foolishness, hope and despair.
- Lingering barbarity, ignorance, superstition, and violence from the Middle Ages.
- Disorder, violence, and bloodshed are still common, with highway robberies and brutal sports like bear baiting and cockfighting.
- Despite advancements in science and learning, belief in superstitions, ghosts, witches, and charms persisted.
- A time of easy morals, lax values, bribery, and delayed justice.
- Material advancement was often achieved by any means possible.
- Public figures seldom had perfectly open hearts or entirely clean hands.
- Despite these contradictions, the Elizabethan Age was a period of intense living, thinking, and strong writing.
I hope that this article was resourceful for you and you found all the information related to the Shakespearean period and its characteristics in the simplest language possible. You can also check out The Historical Overview Of Drama Upto Restoration Period, and UGC NET Syllabus For English Literature – 2023