Charles II and teh restoration

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The return of Charles II from exile remarked the beginning of Restoration: infact king, parliament, bishop and nobles were retored to their former position. The Restoration was a period of abuot 40 years and all the people was eager to break with the past.
The puritan way of life was very sober and strict, in this period it was replaced by licentiousness and immmorality.
An habit widespread among the nobles was the one of wearing masks and disguise, wich the ladies used to hide their faces and often their real feelings.
The marriage was seen as the quickest way to acquiring and increasing money and power; so, marriage become more and more frequently and love and feeling were disgarded.
The royal society was the name given by Charles II to the first scientific society of great britain. It fosterded the developement of experimental science. The spread of new scientific methods led to a more rational way of looking at life. Its foudation contributed to the improvement of English prose, that became more simple and accurate.
In this period the education make a progress, infact sunday school were opened and the rudimentary elements of education were thaugh to more and more people.
The Restoration Drama was a form of entertaiment only for aristocraticy and prosperuos middle class, and so the gap between the lower and upper class become more strong.


In this period writers began to look for France authors to follow as examples, infact it was one of the better periods in France’s literaty production.

Restoration prose writers fall into 2 groups: philosophers and diarist: the two main ph of this period were Hobbes and Locke. Hobbes wrote Leviathan: his political ideal is an absolute monarchy, that he consider the best form of governament; Locke has a clear and heavy style, in his opinion the importance of experience and sense perception was the only source of knowledge. He was the founder of modern empiricism.


Drama best mirrored Restoration in England. In 1660 theatres were re-opened, and their-going habit endure further changes. New buildings were required and ir Christopher Wren was asked to desing two new theatres: their were both indoor ones and much smaller than most Elizabethan playhouses.
The Elizabethan plataform stage was eliminated and only two stages remained: the back stage and the front stage. The scenary began to be painted in prospective and it can be changed during the play with an hidden machinary.
The audience sat in the dark, on benches in the pit or in the boxes. Stage was brightly lit and no longer bare as in Shakespear’s theatre.
Doors opened onto the stage but these were set in each side of the stage and no longer on the back, and through this gate actores came out and in. The close contact between actores and public, and the appeal to spectators’ imaginationwere lost.
The Restoration actores played only one role at the time. Only two company were patent: Duke’s company and King’s company .
Restoration privileged private theatres, where audience were more socially restricted (aristocrates, upper middle class)
In public theatres audience were often inattentive and noisy and preferred comedies.
RESTORATION DRAMA= theatrical production of plays for Charles II to the end of the Stuarts.

Three main genres:

France provided correctness and lucidity of style, Spain complexity of certain plots
People went to theatre to be amused, they wanted humor, sex, wit, elegance, and to mirror themselves in some charcters. In comedy fantasy was replaced by realism=close connection between drama and society. Intellect and reason came to prevail over feelings.

HEROIC PLAY (1664-1674)
It started with Sir William Daveant. Very elaborate and elegant type of play, in imitation of epic and heoric poems. Honour and patriotism. It was influenced by French dramatists and spanish. Verse play, rhymed iambic pentameters, called ‘heroic couplets’. Bombastic tone,inflated language,aritificial and unconvincing characters.

1674 HP replaced by tragedies which marked a return to the Elizabethan theatre. Blank verse, Elizabethan intermingling of comic and tragic elements disappeared. Venice Preserved by Thomas Otway.

Best expression of the new spirit of the time:optimism and superficiality of the age.
It reflected the dissolute life of the court and the aristocracy; main target: middle-class virtues and ideals.
Influenced by Moliere, Calderon de la Barca, Commedia dell’Arte. Plots complicated by numerous subplots which involved a large number of characters.
Characters different from those of Elizabethan comedy: conception of the terms comedy and comic had changed.