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Shakespeare And The Jacobean Era Essay

579 words - 2 pages

The reign of James I was the time of disillusionment and pessimism. The English expected stability and security from the new king and felt let down when he appeared to be less of a man than his predecessor, Elizabeth I, was. Even though James I despised war he thought himself to be the king of kings. He considered himself a Solomon-like figure, his wisdom rising above the law (coming down to London from Scotland he had a cutpurse hanged without trial in Newark because he had found the man guilty). He was given to homosexuality, and interested in witchcraft. The only thing he liked about England was its church: he supported his bishops fervently and they supported him in return.The literature of the era differs from the literature of the Elizabethan period not so much in quality as in degree: it became growingly more serious, somber, socially engaged, and aware of corruption. The plays got more sophisticated, more passionate and violent, and they investigated more deeply the matter of human weakness.Shakespeare's Jacobean phase shows great divergence from his Elizabethan phase. During this period he wrote a number of his great tragedies (Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Coriolanus, Anthony and Cleopatra), his dark, problem comedies devoid of careless gaiety, all of his tragicomic romances, and all this in a short space of time. The tragedies seem to have been composed from 1604 to 1608. Othello, with its first performance in 1604, was possibly written while Elizabeth was still alive. From 1608 to 1612 he wrote the tragicomic romances, the enigmatic and puzzling nature of which indicates that he was experimenting with old and new stage...

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