Monday, October 3, 2011

Shakespeare and his drama: part-2

Shakespeare’s universality his in the acceptance of life in its Fatality. He has expressed human soul with intense emotion, their own emotions – their laughter and tears, passions and prejudices, longings and aspirations. Human tastes change, values change, but Shakespeare has not been lost in oblivion. He is a greater dramatist than Ibsen or Bernard Shaw because he was a greater poet. His plays are faithful record of Elizabethan conventions, passions, prejudices and nuances of expression. Poetry, the supreme expression of imagination, therefore, has a universal appeal and Shakespeare has made excellent use of it. Shakespeare’s universality also consists in his broad humanity. A man, he believes, is a man for all that. He is not a social reformer or ambience to his point of view. Unlike Wordsworth, whose primary object was to teach, Shakespeare is not a preacher or a teacher. He has never thought of using his plays as a convenient pulpit from which to deliver sermons. Shakespeare has a friendly approach to man with all his baseness and limitations. Charity, tolerance, forgiveness are his cardinal precepts, while intolerance and revenge are anathema. Every play of Shakespeare presents the playwrights view of life. Forgiveness is undoubtedly the dominant theme of most of his works. King lear who was suffering from the chastisement of hubris banished the innocent Cordelia and later said, “pray, you now, forget and forgive.” Johnson complains that Shakespeare has no poetic justice in his play. In other words, prosperity and adversity, reward and punishment have not been distributed according to the merits and demerits of the characters. Lear, I ago in Othello, Claudius in Hamlet Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have to yield to the inexorable moral laws. Life and love are intertwined in Shakespeare’s vision, both in tragedies and comedies. Love is one of the fundamental instincts of man, shared by huts. Shakespeare concludes, “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is wing’s Cupid painted blind.”
Human nature has not changed although there have been revolutionary changes in our material aspects. Empires have fallen and risen. Social and economic orders have undergone sea changes, but the same heart-beat can be heard through the centuries. Shakespearean tragedy is a record of these eternal heart-beats. Yet we do not recoil from the tragedy which has loudly proclaimed the triumph of goodness, beauty, love and life. In fine we can say that the age of Shakespeare or the Elizabethan Age witnessed of the richest periods in the history & growth of the feelings of patriotism & nationalism among the English people, & brought about an unprecedented progress in almost all the branches of its variegated life.

Shakespeare And His Drama: Part-1

Shakespeare towers head and shoulder above all other Elizabethans. As a dramatist he is unparalleled and absolute mighty monarch. He is still unsurpassed and unique. Actually, Shakespeare holds, by general acclamation, the foremost place in the world’s literature, and genius included the entire world of nature and of men. To study nature in his works is like exploring a new and beautiful country, to study man in his works is like going into a great city. Marlowe and Kyd, Greene and Lyly were his masters but ultimate victory comes to Shakespeare. In a word, he is the universal poet. “Shakespeare is the grandest thing, we have yet done” The story of the Chinese reading at Oxford is will-known. He saw Shakespeare’s Hamlet,   on the stage and exclaimed in sheer wonder and delight, “Hamlet problems are also mine. Hamlet must be a man of china.” Shakespeare has easily transcended the limit of time and space. He has become a rich heritage of mankind. Ben Jonson, stern classicist, appreciated the universal appeal of Shakespeare’s plays and poems. He asserted, “He was not of an age, but for all times.” So Shakespeare is not just a poet of England, but of mankind. He was not a reformer. Polonius advised Laertes to be neither a bender nor a borrower, but Shakespeare himself was both. He liberally borrowed from the accepted dramatic conventions of him age. Though he did not break with traditions, it is a wonder how with in the Elizabethan framework he developed certain traits that account for his timelessness. Shakespeare is essentially a poet of like. He has accepted the dross and gold, beauty and ugliness. A fine product of the Renaissance, Shakespeare lives life. It is through Hamlet that he expresses this conviction:
                                   What a piece of work is man?
                                   How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty
                                   In form, in moving, how express and admirable
                                   In action, how like an angel!
                                   In apprehension, how like a God!
                                   The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Elizabethan Age(1579-1602)-4

Spenser’s genius was fed by the Reformation on well as by the love of medieval romance and the culture of the Renaissance, and unlike his brilliant Italian master, Ariosto, who wrote only to amuse, his own great work is inspired by a high moral and religion aim. In other words, The Fairy Queen is not simply a romance, it is a didactic romance. The poet carries out his purpose by turning romance into allegory. His twelve knight- errant’s are types of the twelve cardinal virtues of Aristotle’s philosophy, and the adventure of each knight is arranged to body forth symbolically the experiences, conflicts , and temptations of each such virtue in the turmoil of the world, and its ultimate triumph, with the aid of Arthur, the incarnation of  Divine power, over all its foes. The defects of ‘The Fairy Queen’ are very obvious. It suffers from extreme artificiality. Spenser is rather dull story teller. But, on the other hand, his merits are very many and very striking. He has a wonderful sense of beauty. He has   splendid pictorial power. His work is filled with a noble moral spirit; the quality of pure poetry is to be felt on almost every page. Which enables us to understand why Spenser has been called ‘the poet’ and why he exercised such a stimulating influence on the literature of the eighteenth century romantic revival.

The Elizabethan Age(1579-1602)-3

In the age of the Renaissance there was a great revival of ancient learning, and scholars, like Spenser, dived deep into treasures of classical learning which were then being brought to light. No one hope to understand and enjoy the poetry of Spenser who is not familiar with classical mythology and classical literature. Matters become still more difficult as Spenser mixes and blends classical mythology with medieval superstitions. In order to appreciate Spenser there fore, one must also be familiar with the medieval institution of chivalry and with the various poultices beliefs of the age In other words, Spenser is not for the common man, he is for the learned few. He is not a poet for the layman but for poets and scholars. He is truly a poets’ poet and not a poet for all and sundry. The Fairy Queen is the great work upon which the poet’s fame chiefly rests. The original plan of the poem included twenty- four books, each of which was to recount the adventure and triumph of a knight who represented a moral virtue. Spenser purpose, as indicated in a letter to Raleigh which introduces the poem. From the introductory letter we learn that the here visits the queens court in Fairy land, while she is holding a twelve – days festival. On each day some distressed person appears unexpectedly, tells a woeful story of dragons, of enchantresses, or of distressed beauty or virtue and asks for a champion to right the wrong and to let the oppressed go free. Sometimes a Knight volunteers or begs for the dangerous mission, again the duty is assigned by the queen and the journeys and adventures of there knight are the subject of the several books .Though the poet designed twenty-four books for the poem it ultimately his age. Though he did not break with traditions, it is a wonder how within the Elizabethan framework he developed certain traits that account for his timelessness. Published in twelve books. As ‘The Fairy Queen’ keeps her annual feast for twelve successive days and on each of there days a certain knight at her command undertakes a particular adventure, each such adventure finishes the subject of one book. Meanwhile, Prince Arthur who is the central figure of the epic, having dreamed of the Fairy queen, goes out in quest of her. He meets the various knights, who were engaged in their adventures, on the way. The appearance of Arthur at a critical juncture in each of the stories was specially devised as a link between one part and another of the great epic.

The Elizabethan Age(1579-1602)-2

In our study of this great age we have noted  the non-dramatic poets, that is, poets who did not write for the stage .The center of this group is Edmund Spenser, whose ‘Shepherds Calendar(1579) marked the appearance of the first national poet since chances death in 1400 . Associated with Spenser are the minor poets – Thomas Sack ville, Michael Dayton, George Chapman and Philip Sidney. Chapman is noted for his completion of homers ‘Iliad and odyssey’. Sidney, besides his poetry, wrote his prose romance ‘Arcadia’ and ‘The Defense of poetic, one of our earliest critical essays. Charles lamb called Spenser the poets poet. He is also called the second father of English poetry, because it was he, and not Chaucer, who gave to the other English poets a high and noble conception of the work of a poet. He believed that the poet was a creator like God and so shared some of this immortality. The poet should work with faith and devotion because he was sure to be rewarded with immortal fame. Powerful empires, great and noble civilizations, and deeds of men, may be destroyed and forgotten, but art and poetry remain in all their strength and brightness. This faith in the permanence of poetry and immortality of poets, he proclaimed in the most forceful language in his poetry. Censer in the poet’s poet not only for the reason mentioned above, but for many other reasons as well. He was a learned man well-versed in the literature and Ichthyology of ancient Greece and Rome, as well as in the literature of his our age.

The Elizabethan Age(1579-1602)

The great queen Elizabeth came to the throne in 1558, and her reign lasting up to 1603, is golden age in the history of English literature. While the previous age was a Barren age as far as literature is concerned, the age Elizabeth is characterized by abundance of production in every Branch of literature. There was a renaissance of ancient Greek and Roman literature, mythology and culture, and this served as a source of inspiration to the countless writers of the period. There was also an awakening of the human mind to the vastness beauty and wonder of the world As a result of the discovery of America and the voyages of adventure undertaken by the Sailors of England and other countries of Europe. All of literature in the age. This period is generally regarded as the greatest in the history of our literature .It was marked by a strong national spirit, by patriotism, by religious tolerance, by intellectual progress and by unbounded enthusiasm. Such an age, of thought, feeling and vigorous action finds its best expression in the drama and wonderful development of the drama, culminating in shakes-pear, is the most significant characteristic of the Elizabeth an period .Though the age produced some excellent prose works it is essentially an age of poetry and the poetry is remarkable for its variety, its freshness, its youthful and romantic feeling. Both the poetry and the drama were permeated by Italian influence, which was dominant in English literature from Chancre to the Restoration. The literature of this age is often called the literature of Renaissance. Shakespeare is the greatest dramatist, Bacon the greatest prose-writer and essayist and Edmund Spenser is the greatest poet of the age.