Elizabethan Drama

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"Elizabethan drama is an expression of fantasy, romance, and history." Discuss this statement with suitable illustrations.

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It would be difficult to defend or even define the term “expression,” since the dramas during the reign of Elizabeth I were as much commercial products as they were artistic creations.  To be sure, the extant scripts submit readily to literary analysis, but the impulse to write them is slightly more complex than simple “expression.”  What will, however, hold up to scrutiny in the categories of fantasy, romance, and history are the tastes and demands of the Elizabethan audiences, and the generic placement of the scripts left behind.  While it is a simple matter to cite examples from Shakespeare’s canon (Midsummer Night’ Dream, Romeo and Juliet, and all the history plays, respectively), the other Elizabethan writers offered products in these categories as well, especially if we include Jacobean drama (1603-1625), since the transition from one monarch to the next did not seriously change the subject matter of the plays: for example, the history plays of Christopher Marlowe, Edward II , Tambourline, and The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus, or the Romantic comedies of Thomas Middleton, such as The Roaring Girl and The Five Gallants.  In truth, these three themes are ubiquitous, not only in all periods of drama, but in all genres of literature.  Nor are they exclusive; intrigue, adventure, and psychological inquiry are just a few of the other “expressions” of the Elizabethan Age.

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