What were the dominant literary themes in the Elizabethan era?

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shaketeach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The themes in the Elizabethan era were varied.  By looking into the plays of William Shakespeare, we can see what interested these people.  Shakespeare is the best example because he covered so many areas of human interest.

In his history plays, Shakespeare explored power and what makes a good ruler.  By delving into his own recent history, he could explore  these ideas.  The question of how to be a good ruler has been asked by countless generations.  Shakespeare shows us the good, the bad, and the ugly.

What does it mean to be a human being was the subject of his tragedies.  He explored love and jealousy, duty and revenge, power politics, and many other ideas.

In his comedies, he poked fun at us.  Love and our misunderstanding of it seems to be a favorite theme.  In these plays, the women teach the man what love truly is.

Family relationships, lost children, forgiveness, and reunification seem to dominate the late plays.

So, it would appear that the things that concern us today also concerned the people in the Elizabethan period.

salimj | Student

The Elizabethan era in English Literature marks the period of Queen Elizabeth's reign in England (1558 - 1603). The magnificient literature it produced came to be named for her. There was a drastic social change in the social and political life of England. Feudalism had collapsed and new economy took shape and brought new prosperity to England. During her time England became one of the great sea power of the world and England started colonizing the world. In the religious field there was a revolt against Roman Catholic Church. All these changes have given a new look to England.

This changes in the religious, social and political field is reflected in the literature also. It has florished more than any time in the history of England. The long, story-telling poems of the Middle Ages is given way to short, intricated and rigorous poems took shape. The sonnet form is reintroduced to English Literature. Love became the popular theme for poems.

Poetry and Drama were not separated. The Elizabethan playrights were also good poets. They have written the dialogues in iambic penta metre. In plays also the most popular theme was love. We could also find themes like ambition and power in the plays.