Chaucer e English Renaissance



2 (2)
Numero di pagine:3
Formato di file:.doc (Microsoft Word)
Download   Anteprima (Dimensione: 5.74 Kb)
trucheck.it_chaucer-e-english-renaissance.doc     32 Kb
readme.txt     59 Bytes


Chaucer was born around the 1345. He worked as Justice of peace and clerk for the king’s works. In 1390 Chaucer retired from public life, and started writing his masterpiece: The Canterbury Tales.
The Canterbury Tales is an unfinished poem (of about 17.000 lines), that tells the story of a group of pilgrims who are journeying from London to the shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury.
In the prologue are described the pilgrims, and the host of the inn, where the pilgrim met, proposed them to do a storytelling competition. The tales are a series of interlinked stories and the themes are vary. Often the pilgrims’ language is rude and unmannered. We consider the Canterbury Tales a masterpiece for several reasons:
- The poem is written in English, when in the Medieval Age French and Latin were the most important languages.
- It gives us a great portrait of the 16th century society, especially of the middle classes.
- In includes experimentation with rhyme and rhythm patterns, which affected the following literature.
In the 16th century we have three of the most important kings ever:
Henry VII restored peace and ordered the national finances. Created the court of the “star-chamber”, which was a great institution at first, and after became an instrument of oppression.
Henry VIII made the English Church Reformation. He asked the Pope to allow him to divorce from his first wife, but the Pope refused, so Henry VIII decided to break away the English Church from Rome (with the Act of Supremacy, 1550), in this way the king became also the leader of the Church.

The English economy was based on the wool and clothes industry, and Holland was the most important English trading partner. When the Dutch wool market collapsed, England needed to find other markets, and Elizabeth I decided to find them in America and Asia, so the first thing they had to do was create a strong fleet, and so they did. In America they found the opposition of the Spanish, who were already there, because they didn’t want to give any territories to the English, so they fought, finally England won, and started to establish colonies in Virginia and Massachusetts.
When Constantinople fell into the hands of Turks, many scholars, who were living there, came in Italy carrying manuscripts and works of art. They were called “humanist” and started to teach in the Italian universities opening the eyes of Italian to new ideas of beauty and art. This spirit of the Italian Renaissance spread from Italy to the others European countries. Also in England, after the civil wars and under the rein of Henry VII, the humanism affected English universities. Especially in poetry this influence was strong. And the structure if three quatrains and a couplet became know as the Shakespearian (or Elizabethan) sonnet, in fact Shakespeare was one of the most important writers of sonnets.
Actor and Companies
At the beginning of the 16th century, many companies of actors started travelling the country from town to town. This profession of actor didn’t hold a great esteem, in fact they were seen as vagabonds, and there were rigorous laws about vagrancy. So actor decided to work under the protection of a nobleman, who gave to the company a letter of permission which allowed them to travel around the country and perform without fear of punishment.

Why theatre became so popular?
In this period (16th century) we saw the rise of the drama, especially under the rein of Elizabeth I and James I, for several reasons:
- The theatres were opened to all the classes, from the aristocracy to the lowest class.
- The plays could be understood by the illiterate, because the language used wasn’t artificial
- The had been a strong theatres tradition since the Middle Age
- The theatres were patronised by the court and the aristocracy
- Above all, there were a great number of talented playwrights, as Christopher Marlow and William Shakespeare.

The Origin of Drama
The origin of English drama can be traced to the Mystery Place of Miracles, which were performed during the Middle Age. These representations were based on sacred history or on legend of saints, and were acted under the supervision of the clergy, which was favourable to the diffusion of the religious feelings and to the general knowledge of the Bible. Out of the “miracles” came the “moralities”, dramatic pieces in verse in which the biblical personages gave place to personified abstraction, such as vices and virtues (for example, Mercy, Justice, Truth, …).