The Elizabethan Era by Kerstin Frigillana

Elizabethan Era

Thesis: The Elizabethan Era influenced theater, the way people lived, and the way people viewed the religion.


Quote #1: "Not a single theater existed in England until well after Elizabeth I (1533–1603) took the throne in 1558. Within two decades of the building of the first major theater in the mid-1570s, however, a huge and varied body of Elizabethan comedy, tragedy, revenge plays, and history chronicles arose...surpassed the limits of known drama—European theater and the classical drama of ancient Greece and Rome—by portraying complex political, psychological, and historical themes" (Elizabethan)

Commentary: This shows the influence the Elizabethan Era had on theater because not only did more theaters began to be built, but more and more genres of drama began to arise. New writers became famous for their script writing. Elizabeth the First enjoyed plays and supported the theater, because of this the popularity of theater grew and expanded. This era was the introduction to a new type of theater.

Quote #2:"Mystery plays were simple enactments of scenes from the Bible. Morality plays were allegories..that depicted a struggle between the forces of good and evil...They did not have developed personalities because they were intended to represent either a moral virtue or a form of evil rather than a flesh-and-blood human being... their goal was to improve their audiences' moral behavior..,By the mid-sixteenth century new variations on morality plays had arisen, reflecting the audiences' growing desire to be entertained" (Elizabethan)

Commentary: Theater was originally comprised of scenes from the bible and the improvement of moral behavior, however during the Elizabethan Era theater began to grow more towards entertaining their audience than teaching them. Plays started to be about keeping the audience interest and the variations of plays expanded.

Daily Life in the Elizabethan Era

Quote #3: "the vast majority of the Elizabethan population was quite poor, few firsthand historical records of their daily lives have survived. Members of the lower classes in England were mainly uneducated, so they did not usually keep journals or written records describing their own lives... daily life for the majority of Elizabethans had little to do with courtly life, and much to do with working hard to earn a meager living." (Daily)

Commentary: At this time most people were poor and uneducated. Because of this, few people knew how to write and so not many could write in journals about their life.Almost all of the population during the Elizabethan Era were commoners and their lives were mostly evolved around working in order to survive.

Quote #4: "The peasant farmers performed almost all of the labor. Their daily lives were regulated by the seasons, and they tended to work from sunup to sundown, rarely traveling beyond their own village." (Daily)

Commentary: The Elizabethan Era affected the daily life of the people in England because the small percentage of nobles controlled everything. The peasants had very difficult lives and often worked 24 hours a day. The health of the poor could only survive depending on how merciful their lord was.

Quote #5: "England's farming economy was forever changed by the outbreak of a terrible plague, or infectious disease, that arrived on the European continent in 1348, killing more than one-fourth of the population in a few years... With so many laborers dead, lords no longer had an easy supply of labor to farm their lands" (Daily)

Commentary: During the Elizabethan Era a large population of the European Continent died. This affected children because their parents were likely killed by the plague, farms which didn't have peasants, and peasants who didn't have a lord to pay them. However peasants could end up becoming land owners by taking control over the land of deceased lords.

Quote #6: "When an epidemic struck, they saw victims carted off to common graves. Yet death and violence also fascinated many Elizabethans. Londoners flocked to public beheadings of traitors...they also watched as criminals were hanged...crowds also flocked to such bloodthirsty sports as bearbaiting and bullbaiting, in which dogs attacked a bear or bull tied to a post" (Lander)

Commentary: During the Elizabethan Era, England was fairly unsanitary so getting sick was quite easy. This caused many epidemics and deaths, however the many of the citizens were fascinated with death. They were more unaffected with the thought of death because of how normal it was. People were even killed publicly and people would also go watch bloody sports.

Quote #7: "Elizabethans were extremely sensitive to beauty and grace. They also loved many forms of literature, including poetic drama, narrative and lyric poetry, prose fiction, and essays" (Lander)

Commentary: Although crowds watched death for entertainment they found literature and beauty to be very important. Grace and being ladylike were the number 1 priorities that were expected from all women of that day in age. Poetry and literature were also taken seriously as well, however most of the population couldn't read so they could only listen to it being read aloud.

Quote #8: "People liked music, and wealthy people were expected to play musical instruments on social occasions. The English also enjoyed dressing up formasques, pageants, and plays at Christmas and other special times" (Bumgardner)

Commentary: These are examples of activities nobles enjoyed back in this Era. Balls were held very often around the wealthy and are used for many different occasions such as a birthday, coming of age ceremony, or an arranged marriage party.

Quote #9: "The British East India Company had the longest life—nearly 260 years—and the greatest influence. It opened India and the Far East to English trade and eventually brought India into the British Empire" (Afruny)

Commentary: In the Elizabethan Era merchants created a great trading company called the "East India Company". This company eventually drove its competitor, Portugese traders, out of India. The British part of the company successfully spread throughout India, as the French were at war in Europe, and continued to rule until the Indian Rebellion from 1857-1859. The Dutch company had to disband due to debt.


Quote #10: "In the latter half of Elizabeth’s reign, she actively persecuted Catholics. Some radical forms of Protestantism also were not tolerated. A number of people were executed for activity opposing the established church" (Bumgardner)

Commentary: Religion back in the Elizabethan Era was taken very seriously. This era influenced religion by heavily persecuting Catholics. It is said that opposing the church , by law, is considered treason. Queen Elizabeth even went as far as to execute her own cousin, Mary Stuart, for being the cause of several Catholic plots against Elizabeth.

Quote #11: "collect and study the texts of ancient writers other than Aristotle. The ancients had been more interested in the way humans lived—in learning to live as a good citizen of one's homeland—than in what happened after death" (Changing)

Commentary: The Elizabethan Era influenced religion with a new movement called "Scholasticism". Scholars would try to reconcile ancient philosophers with christian theology. They found the writing of Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, and attempted to use it to help find logic and reasoning behind Christianity. However it was soon replaced with "Humanism" which is the rediscovery literature from Greece and Rome which focused on how to become a good citizen than what would happen after they died. A man named Francesco Patrach, who started the movement, convinced other scholars to join him in search for other ancient writing from Rome and Greece.

Works Cited

afruny, Alan W. “East India Company.” World Book Advanced. World Book, 2016. Web. 4 Dec. 2016.

Bumgardner, Jake. “Elizabethan Age.” World Book Advanced. World Book, 2016. Web. 4 Dec. 2016.

“A Changing View of the Universe: Philosophy and Science in the Elizabethan Era.” Elizabethan World Reference Library. Ed. Sonia G. Benson and Jennifer York Stock. Vol. 1: Almanac. Detroit: UXL, 2007. 123-140. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 1 Dec. 2016.

“Daily Life in the Elizabethan Era.” Elizabethan World Reference Library. Ed. Sonia G. Benson and Jennifer York Stock. Vol. 1: Almanac. Detroit: UXL, 2007. 181-194. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

“Elizabethan Drama.” Elizabethan World Reference Library. Ed. Sonia G. Benson and Jennifer York Stock. Vol. 1: Almanac. Detroit: UXL, 2007. 163-179. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 1 Dec. 2016.

Lander, Jesse M. “Shakespeare, William.” World Book Advanced. World Book, 2016. Web. 3 Dec. 2016.

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Kerstin Frigillana

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