The Doctrine of Election and the Emergence of Elizabethan Tragedy

The Doctrine of Election and the Emergence of Elizabethan Tragedy

Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 340
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  • Book Info
    The Doctrine of Election and the Emergence of Elizabethan Tragedy
    Book Description:

    This compelling argument for the link between Calvinism in English religious life and the rise of tragedy on the Elizabethan stage draws on a variety of material, including theological tracts, sermons, and dramatic works beginning with sixteenth-century morality plays and continuing through Marlowe's career and the beginning of Shakespeare's

    Originally published in 1984.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5671-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
    (pp. 3-14)

    Dramatic tragedy emerged suddenly in Elizabethan England. In the 1560s serious drama was still primarily religious and designed to serve didactic ends; by the end of the 1580s, the transition to an essentially secular, commercial drama had occurred. How and why tragedy came into being at this time and in this place remains a subject of energetic scholarly debate, debate which frequently reveals as much about our attitudes toward literature as it does about Elizabethan tragedy itself. This book joins the debate in at least two ways. From one perspective, it is about the evolution of the tragic protagonist, and...

  5. CHAPTER I Play and Audience
    (pp. 15-40)

    The medium through which the doctrine of election helped to shape the emergence of the tragic protagonist was the spoken word. In the London of the 1570s, 1580s, and 1590s, both the players and the preachers were attracting increasingly large audiences, and in both cases what they offered was a mixture of instruction and entertainment presented with considerable verbal artistry. Although there were pious sermongoers who shunned the theatres and, conversely, pleasure-loving theatre-goers who attended sermons only when compelled to do so, the two audiences undoubtedly overlapped. The fact that preachers and moralists frequently expressed their hostility to the playhouses...

  6. CHAPTER II The Rhetoric of the Elect
    (pp. 41-73)

    One of the most important and popular public events in Elizabethan England was the sermon preached at Paul’s Cross. A wooden structure located in the churchyard of the great cathedral, the Cross served as the locus for the most prestigious and best-attended sermons of the age, as well as for official proclamations, state processions, and public penances. On a fair day, the audience numbered in the thousands, consisting of people from throughout the city, not to mention foreign travelers and visitors from the country who flocked to London on matters of business and pleasure. The sermons lasted as much as...

  7. CHAPTER III Morality Play Protagonists
    (pp. 74-107)

    Any art form created by and for mixed popular audiences is by nature conservative, if only because the habitual expectations of the audience themselves are inclined to resist change. Emrys Jones has suggested that popular drama “to succeed in performance ... must establish a more or less instantly recognizable relation to traditional expected forms; however innovative in detail, it must in essence work through a modification of what is already known. No more than the entire system of a spoken language can the development of dramatic form tolerate large hiatuses.”¹ To understand how Elizabethan tragedy came into being, we must...

  8. CHAPTER IV The False Dawn of Tragedy
    (pp. 108-133)

    While the authors of the popular moralities were testing the limits to which the morality form could be pushed, other play-wrights of the 1560s began to explore the dramatic possibilities inherent in stories drawn from history, legend, and other non-dramatic sources. The result was a decade of dramatic experimentation which has been called “the false dawn of tragedy” because it produced such plays asGorboduc, Cambises, Horestes, Appius and Virginia, andGismond of Salerne.¹ These five plays vary considerably in quality, and, though none is a fully realized tragedy, together they represent a breakthrough in the emergence of the tragic...

  9. CHAPTER V The Conqueror Play
    (pp. 134-173)

    The First Part of Tamburlaine the Great, presented to London audiences by the Lord Admiral’s Men in 1587, was an immediate and enormous popular success. Marlowe’s bold and aspiring conqueror especially appealed to the audience of the 1580s, so much so thatI Tamburlainewas followed by a succession of derivative conqueror plays during the next few years, beginning with Marlowe’s own sequel.¹I Tamburlainerepresents a deliberate departure from the plays of Marlowe’s predecessors. In the celebrated prologue with which the play begins, Marlowe rather arrogantly proclaimed his contempt for the dramatic techniques of his contemporaries: the “jigging veins...

  10. CHAPTER VI Revenge Tragedy
    (pp. 174-208)

    Like the conqueror plays, the revenge plays of the late 1580s and 1590s share certain similarities of plot, theatrical conventions, and character types. Structurally, however, the revenge play represents a major innovation, for it introduces the element of intrigue, which replaces the linear, episodic sequences of action characteristic of the conqueror play with elaborately plotted ones employing deception, suspense, and surprise revelations. In one sense, the protagonist of the revenge plot becomes a complex character purely by virtue of his position in the web of intrigue that surrounds him. Drawn into his role by another’s crime, he is never a...

  11. CHAPTER VII Doctor Faustus
    (pp. 209-246)

    InThe Tragical History if the Life and Death of Doctor FaustusMarlowe draws upon some of the oldest, most traditional elements from the morality play—The Good and Bad Angels, the Heavenly Man-Worldly Man dual-protagonist scheme unevenly embodied in the Old Man and Faustus, the spectacle of the Seven Deadly Sins, and the dragon, devils, and traditional gaping hell beneath the stage. Among these he placed a protagonist who seeks out damnation more explicitly than any morality play character had done, and who dies in a torment more terrible than anything the morality playwrights had dared to represent onstage....

  12. CHAPTER VIII From History to Tragedy
    (pp. 247-290)

    In 1528, William Tyndale compared the relative merits of tyrants and weak kings and came down squarely on the side of the bold, assertive tyrant, even though he recognized that the good would suffer:

    Yea, and it is better to have a tyrant unto thy king: than a shadow; a passive king that doth nought himself, but suffereth others to do with him what they will, and to lead him whither they list. For a tyrant, though he do wrong unto the good, yet he punisheth the evil, and maketh all men obey, neither suffereth any man to poll but...

  13. CHAPTER IX The Tragic Choice
    (pp. 291-300)

    The act of choosing has always been an important element in tragedy. The choices that tragic characters make are more often than not essentially moral ones, and their consequences both define and result from those characters’ moral stature as perceived by the audience. In the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century morality plays, as we have seen, the playwright focused the audience’s attention upon the conflicting claims of virtue and vice on characters who represented man’s susceptibility to temptation but also his ability to reject evil and to choose good. From the 1560s onward, as the playwrights discussed in the preceding chapters moved...

    (pp. 301-320)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 321-329)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 330-330)