Jacobean Era Drama

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The Jacobean Era refers to the period in English and Scottish history that coincides with the reign of King James VI (1567–1625) of Scotland, who also inherited the crown of England in 1603 as James I. The Jacobean era succeeds the Elizabethan Era and specifically denotes a style of architecture, visual arts, decorative arts and literature that is predominant of that era. It is agreed upon by many that an era's social, political and religious concerns are reflected in the literature of that era. Queen Elizabeth's reign was characterised by a nation which was expanding its powers, increasing its wealth and could therefore keep at bay its serious social and religious problems. This was therefore reflected in the literature of the age. Disillusion and pessimism followed, however, during the unstable reign of James I (1603–25). The 17th cent was to be a time of great upheaval—revolution and regicide, restoration of the monarchy, and, finally, the victory of Parliament, landed Protestantism, and the moneyed interests. We begin to see the characteristics of the Jacobean era reflected in the plays of the era. We see some of Shakespeare's greatest and darkest plays emerging in this era. The dominant literary figure of James's reign was Ben Jonson, whose varied and dramatic works followed classical models and was enriched by his worldly, peculiarly English wit. Along with these came the horrific revenge tragedies of John Ford, Thomas Middleton, Cyril Tourneur, and John Webster. 'The Duchess of Malfi' is seen as one of John Webster's greatest work, noteworthy alongside 'The White Devil'. Both plays reflect the characteristic darkness and profound consciousness of evil that characterized the Jacobean period, an age that questioned the preceding Elizabethan era's belief that all social, political, and even spiritual relations were defined in an unchanging hierarchy. The suggestion that chaos lies beyond such order glimpsed in Elizabethan drama become...
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