Nbb an128 K1 History of English Literature dp



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Types: Mystery plays: dramatized biblical stories. Miracle plays: later development from mystery plays; dramatising saints’ lives and divine miracles, legends of miraculous interventions by the Virgin. Cycles – the story of the Bible from the Creation to the Last Judgement. Performance: guilds, wagons; festivals
Morality plays: they do not deal with biblical stories but with personified abstractions of virtues and vices struggling for man’s soul (allegory in drama). Stock elements: the Seven Deadly Sins (Pride, Covetousness / Avarice, Wrath / Anger, Envy, Gluttony, Sloth, Lechery); ‘Dance of Death’ (Death, God’s messenger, comes to summon all). The most well-known play: Everyman (the end of the 15th century)

(6) The University Wits: Classical and Native Traditions


The most salient aspect of drama in the second part of the 16th century: a shift of interest and emphasis from religious to secular. New themes appeared such as Classical mythology, English and foreign history, presented in new ‘kinds’ (genres) – comedy, history/chronicle play and tragedy. These were plays less about virtues than about people. Much of this was due to the influence of Humanism – the discovery and study of the classics brought the genres of comedy and tragedy. Tragedy was a major development as medieval drama was seen as essentially ‘comic’ (happy ending). The main influence for tragedy was Seneca (playwright and Stoic philosopher, he wrote plays that were intended for reading and not for performance)



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