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The University Wits: 16th-Century Playwrights

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What was the University Wits known for in their literary works?

Use of witty dialogue, complex plots, and exploration of themes such as love, power, and morality

Which of the following playwrights was known for his use of blank verse?

Christopher Marlowe

What themes did the University Wits often explore in their works?

Love, power, and morality

Which of the following was NOT a characteristic of University Wits' literature?

Use of tragic endings

What was the impact of the University Wits on later literature?

They paved the way for later playwrights such as William Shakespeare

Which of the following playwrights was known for his use of romantic comedy?

Robert Greene

What classical sources did the University Wits draw inspiration from?

Greek and Roman mythology and literature

Which of the following plays is associated with Christopher Marlowe?

Tamburlaine the Great

What type of drama did Thomas Lodge explore in his works?

Historical drama

What is the main theme explored in the play Tamburlaine The Great?

Power, ambition, and the nature of evil

What is the main plot of the play Doctor Faustus?

A scholar's bargain with the devil for knowledge and power

Which Shakespeare play is heavily influenced by Marlowe's Tamburlaine The Great?

Richard III

What is a characteristic of Marlowe's use of blank verse?

It creates a sense of grandeur and drama

What is the title of the two-part play written by Marlowe in 1587?

Tamburlaine The Great

What is the name of the protagonist in the play Doctor Faustus?

Doctor Faustus

What is a feature of Marlowe's characters?

They are complex and nuanced

What is the effect of Marlowe's use of blank verse in his plays?

It adds to the emotional intensity and dramatic power of the plays

Which of Marlowe's plays is known for its use of magic and spectacle?

Doctor Faustus

What is the effect of Marlowe's influence on Shakespeare's early plays?

It adds to the dramatic power and complexity of the plays

What historical figure is the play Tamburlaine the Great based on?

Timur (also known as Tamerlane)

What is a key feature of Renaissance drama, as seen in Tamburlaine the Great?

Use of blank verse to create a sense of grandeur

What is the main criticism of the play Tamburlaine the Great in terms of its portrayal of the East?

It reinforces Western stereotypes and prejudices

What is the name of the city that Tamburlaine conquers in the play, after defeating the Egyptians?

Aleppo

What is the term coined by Edward Said to describe the Western tendency to exoticize and romanticize the East?

Orientalism

What is the main theme explored in the play Tamburlaine the Great, in terms of power and ambition?

The nature of power and ambition

What is a characteristic of Marlowe's use of language in Tamburlaine the Great?

Poetic and elaborate

What is the consequence of Tamburlaine's conquests in the play?

All of the above

What is the significance of Tamburlaine's conquest of Moscow in the play?

It shows his military prowess

Study Notes

The University Wits

  • A group of young playwrights and poets in 16th-century London
  • Known for their witty dialogue, complex plots, and exploration of themes such as love, power, and morality

Key Members

  • Christopher Marlowe
    • Wrote plays such as Tamburlaine the Great and Doctor Faustus
    • Known for his use of blank verse and exploration of themes such as power and ambition
  • Robert Greene
    • Wrote plays such as Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay and The Honorable Historie of Frier Bacon and Frier Bongay
    • Known for his use of romantic comedy and exploration of themes such as love and morality
  • Thomas Lodge
    • Wrote plays such as The Wounds of Civil War and A Looking Glass for London and England
    • Known for his use of historical drama and exploration of themes such as power and corruption
  • John Lyly
    • Wrote plays such as Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit and Gallathea
    • Known for his use of romantic comedy and exploration of themes such as love and identity

Characteristics of University Wits' Literature

  • Use of witty dialogue and complex plots
  • Exploration of themes such as love, power, and morality
  • Use of blank verse and other poetic forms
  • Often featured complex, flawed characters and explored the human condition
  • Drawn from classical sources, such as Greek and Roman mythology and literature

Influence on Later Literature

  • Influenced the development of English Renaissance theatre
  • Paved the way for later playwrights such as William Shakespeare
  • Contributed to the development of dramatic forms such as tragedy and comedy

The University Wits

  • A group of young playwrights and poets in 16th-century London known for their witty dialogue, complex plots, and exploration of themes such as love, power, and morality

Key Members

  • Christopher Marlowe
    • Wrote plays such as Tamburlaine the Great and Doctor Faustus
    • Known for his use of blank verse and exploration of themes such as power and ambition
  • Robert Greene
    • Wrote plays such as Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay and The Honorable Historie of Frier Bacon and Frier Bongay
    • Known for his use of romantic comedy and exploration of themes such as love and morality
  • Thomas Lodge
    • Wrote plays such as The Wounds of Civil War and A Looking Glass for London and England
    • Known for his use of historical drama and exploration of themes such as power and corruption
  • John Lyly
    • Wrote plays such as Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit and Gallathea
    • Known for his use of romantic comedy and exploration of themes such as love and identity

Characteristics of University Wits' Literature

  • Use of witty dialogue and complex plots
  • Exploration of themes such as love, power, and morality
  • Use of blank verse and other poetic forms
  • Often featured complex, flawed characters and explored the human condition
  • Drawn from classical sources, such as Greek and Roman mythology and literature

Influence on Later Literature

  • Influenced the development of English Renaissance theatre
  • Paved the way for later playwrights such as William Shakespeare
  • Contributed to the development of dramatic forms such as tragedy and comedy

Marlowe's Plays

  • Marlowe's two-part play, Tamburlaine The Great, written in 1587, tells the story of Timur, a Scythian shepherd who rises to become a great conqueror.
  • The play is known for its poetic language, grandiose style, and exploration of themes such as power, ambition, and the nature of evil.
  • Tamburlaine's character is complex, exhibiting both brutal and poetic qualities.

Doctor Faustus

  • Written around 1592-1593, Doctor Faustus is a tragic play that tells the story of a scholar who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and power.
  • The play explores themes such as morality, sin, and redemption, and is known for its use of magic and spectacle.
  • Doctor Faustus is a complex and nuanced character, exhibiting both hubris and tragic flaws.

Influence on Shakespeare

  • Marlowe's influence on Shakespeare is evident in Shakespeare's early plays, such as the Henry VI trilogy.
  • Marlowe's use of blank verse, poetic language, and exploration of themes such as power and ambition can be seen in Shakespeare's works.
  • Shakespeare's play Richard III, in particular, owes a debt to Marlowe's Tamburlaine The Great.

Marlowe's Use of Blank Verse

  • Marlowe was a master of blank verse, a type of poetry that uses unrhymed iambic pentameter.
  • He used blank verse to create a sense of grandeur and drama, particularly in his plays Tamburlaine The Great and Doctor Faustus.
  • Marlowe's use of blank verse helped to create a sense of rhythmic flow and natural speech, making his characters more believable and relatable.
  • His use of blank verse also added to the emotional intensity and dramatic power of his plays.

Tamburlaine's Conquests

  • Tamburlaine, a Scythian shepherd, rises to become a great conqueror, inspired by the historical figure of Timur (Tamerlane)
  • Conquests include:
    • Defeating the Persians and taking the throne of Persia
    • Conquering the Turks and taking the city of Damascus
    • Defeating the Egyptian army and taking the city of Aleppo
    • Conquering the Russians and taking the city of Moscow

Renaissance Drama

  • Tamburlaine the Great is a classic example of Renaissance drama
  • Key features of Renaissance drama:
    • Use of blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter) to create a sense of grandeur and elevated language
    • Exploration of themes such as power, ambition, and the human condition
    • Use of dramatic devices such as soliloquies, asides, and stage directions to create a sense of drama and tension
  • Marlowe's play is notable for its poetic language, elaborate stage directions, and exploration of themes such as the nature of power and the corrupting influence of ambition

Orientalism

  • The play is criticized for its Orientalist portrayal of the East, reinforcing Western stereotypes and prejudices
  • Orientalism is a term coined by Edward Said to describe the Western tendency to exoticize and romanticize the East, often inaccurately and derogatorily
  • In Tamburlaine the Great, the East is portrayed as a place of luxury, decadence, and cruelty, with characters such as the Persian king and the Turkish emperor depicted as cruel and tyrannical
  • The play reinforces the idea of Western superiority and the notion that the East is a place of barbarism and savagery, while the West is civilized and enlightened

Explore the lives and works of the University Wits, a group of young playwrights and poets in 16th-century London, including Christopher Marlowe and Robert Greene.

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