What role did the Globe Theatre play in Elizabethan society?

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lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Globe Theatre was an interesting dichotomy in London society.  Many considered the Globe to be about as essential to civilized society as a brothel, tavern or cock-fighting competition, while others considered it an important cultural institution.  More than a few of the attendees to the plays performed at the Globe were lower-class, often shady, and in many case, drunken sorts who thought nothing of jeering at the actors and throwing things at them onstage if they found the show to be less than inspiring.  However, there were plenty of well-educated, affluent, and generally more cultured attendees as well.  Henry Levin described the Globe as a "microcosm" of society at large.  Interestingly, however, acting was not a well-respected profession, and the more conservative elements of Elizabethan society found it especially offensive;  the actors of the Globe Theater, at least had the protection of sponsorships by the Lord Chamberlain of Queen Elizabeth, and then by King James I.  Without influential sponsors (and certainly, the King himself might be considered the most influential sponsor), an actor might find himself charged with vagrancy, and arrested.