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Lecture

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Department
English
Course
ENGL 3020
Professor
Andrew Bretz
Semester
Fall

Description
The University Wits were importin Aristotle, changing the way theatre was done. Prior to this period theatre was based on medieval reality plays, and psycho plays. Every time you see a mentioning of Harrod the Great, that is basically a reference to these old plays.  Marlowe starts the importation. Formal verse,dialogue really the importation of blank verse (not always iambic pentameter). Dialogue shifts around the 1580’s and flows much better. o Hubris is a medieval concept, not Aristotle. Marlowe and the others took what they liked, and used it. Hubris is one of the things they saw as not being prescriptive. The reason why the sinful and egoism definition doesn’t work. It was a legal term in Athens. What that means is that it’s a law that prevents the rich from humiliating the poor. It’s about humiliation based on your societal class.  The first 4 weeks of American Idol are Hubristic. o Hubris came under “offending honor”. If you intentional insult someone and dishonor them, that’s hubristic. It upset the tightly knit nature of the community of Ancient Greece.  This was hard to translate because they couldn’t conceive of a society where people were equally because of monarchies. This is the whole problem that the Barons have with Gavestone. They claim it’s not the homosexuality, they claim it’s him trying to undermine the regimentation of the class structure. That he’s been given all of the titles that he isn’t entitled to.  Pride is the first Christian sin.  All these early thinkers put it into Christian ideology. Character in these plays has to be greater than life. The University Wits end up writing these plays about heroic themes and heroic subjects. Except when they write comedies and they are under life, they’re basically the worst people in society.  The tragic hero is often understood as the person who exhibits hubris. It’s not a term that comes from Aristotle. It derives from people misreading Aristotle. They’re basically heroes of tragedies are basically good decent powerful people who suffer a tragedy over the course of the play and drop from their power. o In the 1700’s, 1800’s people started translating that as a tragic flaw, rather than it being as a near miss. They started importing the idea that the Tragic Flaw was a sin. Hubris is excessive pride, blah blah, there’s your filtering down. E2 is exhibiting a kind of a pride. He misses the mark, but what Marlowe is doing is more complex than just saying that he’s a tragic hero. He has that moment of realization too late in the play, because he’s already lost his kingdom.  Marlowe also become about the individual within society, rather than as a heroic entity. This is more about E2 working with everyone in the kingdom trying to make things ok, not just Edward. o He includes the concept of the sidekick. You see it in Taming of the Shrew. It started off in the Jew of Malta however. It comes out of Greek New Comedy. He imports it into early modern drama. The Unities are the idea that dramatic time and real time should be the same. The 2 hours should approximately be the 2 hours in the lives of the characters. This is largely ignored in 1660. They import all these French ideas, and they’re a much more based on a model like 24 (the Tv Show). That is a unity of time. There are other unities in place, but they largely ignored that. Aristotle says that there are only comedies and tragedies. Comedies are plays that end well, while Tragedies are plays that end badly.  Elevated topics, people who are greater than us and admiried, but they generally fall. Most times comedies were more realistic, while tragedies were generally historic. o By bringing in history, is huge. Tamburlaine is the Sheppard boy, he is lower than us. He’s a basic schmuck. Then he decided to be King of the World, and then does it. At the end of Tamburlaine really, he doesn’t die. Nothing bad happens to him. He gets limited
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