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Shakespeare EN3535 – Fall/Winter 2011/2012 – Elizabeth Pentland Lecture 2 Part 1 – Titus Andronicus – Sept 20 Outline - Life and context (continued from last week) o Rival playwrights. o Shakespeare’s later years. o First Folio (1623) - Titus Andronicus (1594) o Peacham drawing. o ‘Revenge Tragedy’ Rivalry and Inspiration - Shakespeare worked alongside other well-known playwrights of the period, including Thomas Kyd, Robert Greene, Christopher Marlow and Ben Johnson. o Robert Greene wrote funny pamphlets. o Christopher Marlowe is master of drama works. His works were a major influence; Shakespeare strives to imitate Marlow’s verse. o Ben Johnson was Shakespeare’s rivals. He criticised and resented Shakespeare’s successes on the stage. - He learned much from these playwrights (especially Kyd and Marlowe) in the early years of his career, and was seen by some of them as an ambitious ‘upstart’ or a rival. - Ben Johnson’s poem celebrating Shakespeare’s contribution to English drama prefaces the First Folio (1623). Robert Greene (1558-1592) - Rival playwright & pamphleteer. - One of the ‘University Wits’ (along with Christopher Marlowe). - Earliest mention of Shakespeare in print (possibly an allusion to Titus Andronicus): o ‘…for there is an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers hart wrapt in a players hyde, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes fac totum, is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey’.  Marlowe was famous for his blank verse.  Marlowe implies that Shakespeare is trying to compete with Marlow and the other playwrights in the theater. Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) - One of the ‘University Wits’. - Famous for tragedies like Doctor Faustus, Tamburlaine. - Rumoured to have worked for Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, Walsingham. - Murdered in a brawl outside a pub in 1593. - Influences Shakespeare’s earliest works, including Titus Andronicus and Richard III. o Where we see Shakespeare trying to imitate Marlowe’s blank verse and the tragic hero that Marlow wrote so well. Ben Johnson (1572-1637) - Rival playwright. - Bricklayer’s son, university educated. - Praised Shakespeare’s accomplishments in a poem that prefaced the First Folio (Shakespeare’s collected works) in 1623. - Shakespeare’s ‘small Latine, and lesse Greeke’. - Poetry was high literature and prose literature was also high literature, theater on the other hand was a lesser category. It was Ben Johnson that decided that he would print his theatrical works with this poetic works to heighten the status of theater. The King’s Men (1603) - Queen Elizabeth I dies in 1603 and is succeeded by James I (King of Scotland at the time). o No one knew who was going to be the next queen or king. She died without being married or having children. o Her successor turned out to be a distant cousin of Elizabeth – James I. - Jacobean era begins o A new culture and a new period in English history begins. - King James becomes honorary patron of Shakespeare’s theatre company. o He is a deep supporter of the arts. - Name of the company changes to The King’s Men. o Their patron is King James I. o This means that they will be called upon by the king to perform for him or for his events. Shakespeare’s Later Years - From about 1609 onwards, Shakespeare increasingly occupied with business in Stratford (as a landholder there). - Gradually withdraws from London theater scene. - Continues to write for the stage until 1613, but increasingly in collaboration with other playwrights (like John Fletcher). o 1611 – The Tempest. - Fire at the Globe Theater in 1613; Shakespeare retires. o Fire was started by using a real cannon on stage to make a ‘real’ effect. o Theater was mix gendered and different classes. o It’s as if the fire at the Globe puts an end to his writing. First Folio (1623) - Shakespeare dies in 1616, at the age of 53. - His collected works are published by John Heminge and Henry Condell in 1623. - ‘First Folio’ o A large book made by folding large pieces of paper in half. - Plays only just beginning to be thought of as ‘literary’. - Ben Johnson’s ‘work
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