Q. 1. How will you elucidate the term ‘Renaissance’?
Ans. The word means ‘rebirth’, and it is used specifically to denote the great spiritual and mental rebirth marked the end of Middle Age and the beginning of the modern world.
Q. 2. What are the chief aspects of the Renaissance?
Ans. There are several aspects of the Renaissance: the New Learning is one, the others are Reformation, the growth of the nationalism, the exploration of the world; and intimately connected with the Renaissance are the invention of printing and the spread of education. We must carefully avoid the error of limiting what is to be understood by the Renaissance; it is not to be identified, for instance, with the New Learning, but it embraces that and all the changes which were brought about—it is the spirit which was the motive power behind them all.
Q. 3. What is the significance of Humanism in the age of Renaissance?
Ans. This rediscovery and re-interpretation of antiquity gave birth to a new culture—that of Humanism. Like its inspiration, it was basically pagan, and its ideal was the scholar, soldier, and gentleman rather than the simple Christian, although many naturally tried to give the culture as Christian a bias as possible.
Q. 4. What was the influence of Reformation on English Literature?
Ans. The Renaissance brought the new spirit of inquiry into the ideal of the church. Saturated with the new spirit of the Renaissance, the religious-minded men criticised the faith of the Church by the light of their new reading of the Christian scriptures. Thus there gradually came into being schism from Rome on such questions as transubstantiation, and the supreme authority of the Pope. Gradually but thoroughly, the Protestants overcame the adherents to Rome in England, and when we come to the great period of Elizabethan literature, we see in Spenser’s work the effect of the Reformation upon poetry.
Q. 5. How will you elucidate national integrity of the Elizabethans in English literature?
Ans. In the realm of literature this national integrity of spirit shows itself in the qualities which writers had in common: the abundant lyrics of the age are a particularly good example, for the general reader of to-day who turns to a volume of Elizabethan lyrics by different writers might well think at first that they were all by the same poet, so strongly marked is the predominant Elizabethan quality. It is only later, after some further study, that the individual characteristics of the various writers would begin to stand out in his mind at all clearly.
Q. 6. What are the general characteristics of Elizabethan literature?
Ans. The characteristics of Elizabethan literature are enthusiasm, spontaneity, creative energy, lyricism, versatility, a spirit of adventure and experiment, a love of pageantry, an unsated delight in beauty, soaring imagination, and a pervading patriotism. In brief this period is the high-spirited and richly gifted youth of our literature, and this is something of what we mean when we call it romantic period, for its writers see life with the romantic ardour of youth.
Q. 7. How will you justify that the Elizabethan age marked the dawn of the new age in the realm of literature?
Ans. A great change was bound to come over literature and that in all probability a great age of literature was at hand. The material was there, the inspiration was there, and the readers were there; only the particular men were wanted from whose pens the immortal words should flow.
Q. 8. How will you characterise the Elizabethan literature as the New Romanticism?
Ans. The romantic quest is for the remote, the wonderful, and the beautiful. All these desires were abundantly fed during the Elizabethan age which is our first and greatest romantic epoch. On the one hand, there was the revolt against the past, whose grasp was too feeble to hold in restraint the lusty youth of the Elizabethan age; on the other, there was a daring and resolute spirit of adventure in literary as well as in other regions; and, most important of all, there was an unmistakable buoyancy and freshness in the strong wind of the spirit. It was the adherent youth of English ‘literature, and the achievement was worthy of it.
Q. 9. How will you comment upon the Elizabethan poetry?
Ans. Though the poetical production was not quite equal to the dramatic, it was nevertheless of great and original beauty. As can be observed from the disputes of the time, the passion for poetry was absorbing, and the outcome of it was equal to expectation.
Q. 10. What are the various stages in the development of’ literary style of the Elizabethan poetry?
Ans. The earliest period is that of Wyatt, Surrey, Sidney, and the university Wits. This is the formative and imitative period, during which the dependence upon classical originals is particularly strong. The style has the precision. Secondly, the Spenserian and Shakespearian stage is the stage of highest development. The native English genius, having absorbed the’ lessons of foreign writers, adds to them youth and ardour of its own spirit. The result is a fullness, freshness, and grandeur of style unequalled in any other period of the English literature. Finally, in the second decade of the seventeenth century, the decline is apparent. The inspired phraseology, the wealth and flexibility of vocabulary, and the general bloom of the style pass into the lightness of fancy and the tinkling unsubstantial verse of the nature of Campion’s.
Q. 11. What do you understand about the lyrical poetry in the Elizabethan literature?
Ans. The temper of the age was suited to the lyrical mood, and so the abundance of the lyric is very great. It begins with the first efforts of Wyatt and Surrey; it continues through the dramas in all their stages; and it appears in the numerous miscellanies of the period.
Q. 12. Who are the greatest Elizabethan poets?
Ans. The supreme Elizabethan poet is, of course, Shakespeare, but since he is even greater as a dramatist than as a poet, it is under drama that we shall consider him. Spenser, next to Shakespeare, is the Elizabethan poet, par excellence.
Q. 13. What do you know about Sir Thomas Wyatt?
Ans. Wyatt’s poems are short but fairly numerous. His ninety-six love poems appeared posthumously in a compendium called Tottle’s Miscellany. The most noteworthy are thirty-one sonnets, the first in English. It has been noted that there is a singing quality discernible in Wyatt’s best verse, that absolute essential to the pure lyric, and this was in great measure due to the fact that Wyatt was an accomplished player on the lute as the times necessitated the perfect courtier to be. The new poetry in England was to be full of courtly feelings and. ideas. it was essentially a literature not of a people of large but a narrow circle.
Q. 14. How will you comment upon the Love Sonnets ‘Astrophel and Stella’ of Sir Philip Sidney?
Ans. Sir Philip Sidney’s great achievement was his connected sequence of 108 love sonnets, the Astrophel and Stella, published in 1591. These sonnets, which owe much to Petrarch and Ronsard in tone and style, place Sidney as the greatest Elizabethan sonneteer except Shakespeare. Written to his mistress, Lady Penelope Rich, though dedicated to his wife, they reveal a true lyric emotion couched in a language delicately archaic.
Q. 15. Who are the Elizabethan poets?
Ans. Michael Drayton, Thomas Campion, Phineas Fletcher, Samuel Daniel are the other poets of this period.
Q. 16. What is the purpose of ‘The Fairie Queene’?
Ans. It follows clearly that the object of writing The Fairie Queene is to present before the reader the perfect ideal of a noble, virtuous gentleman as conceived in the Elizabethan age and as embodied in the career and personality of Sir Walter Raleigh.
Q. 17. What is the plan of ‘The Fairie Queene’?
Ans. The subject-matter of the first book of The Fairie Queene is the Red Cross Knight, representing Holiness, that of the Second Book is Sir Guyon, representing Temperance, that of the Third Book is Britomartis, a Lady Knight representing Chastity, that of the Fourth Book is the legend of Triamond and Cambell, representing Friendship, that of the Fifth Book is Artegall representing Justice and that of the Sixth Book is Sir Calidore, representing courtesy. Besides, there is a fragment of Mutability, being the Sixth and Seventh cantos of the legend of Constance which was to have formed the Seventh Book.
Q. 18. What is an epic?
Ans. A long serious narrative poem about hero and his heroic companions, often set in a past that is imagined as greater than the present. The hero often has superhuman or divine traits; in Homer’s Iliad the hero is the son of a goddess; in Milton’s Paradise Lost the characters are God the Father, Christ, angels, and Adam and Eve. The action is usually simple, but it is amplified by allusions and figurative language that give it cosmic significance. The style is appropriately elevated to the greatness of the deeds and certain conventions are usually observed.
Q. 19. How will you discuss ‘The Fairie Queene’ as an epic?
Ans. The Fairie Queene does not contain the essentials of a classical epic. But it can be considered as a romantic epic. It is, no doubt, a great heroic poem, and whether we call it an epic or romance, it does not detract from its true merit. Spenser was an original genius, and he believed in reconciling the elements of different forms of poetry. He neither followed the rigidity of the purely classicist formulae of Homer and Virgil, nor was he completely guided by wild theories of Ariosto and other Italian critics; but taking the best of both, he devised a plan which was harmonious and pleasing.
Q. 20. How will you criticise the plot of ‘The Fairie Queene’?
Ans. The construction of the plot is obscure. Moreover, it is exceedingly elaborate. It is crammed with incidents and digressions. By the fifth book it is palpably weakening. It is therefore no misfortune that only half of the story is finished. Spenser himself remarked that he had to write a preface because of obscurity of the plot.
Q. 21. How will you discuss the style of ‘The Fairie Queene’?
Ans. No one goes to Spenser for a story; one goes to steep the scenes in the rich and valuptuous style. The style has its weaknesses; it is diffuse, and lacks judgment; it is weak in ‘bite’ and in sharpness of attack; and it is misty and unsubstantial. But for beauty long and richly wrought, for subtle and sustained melody, for graphic word-pictures, and for depth and magical colour of atmosphere the poem stands supreme in English. Its imitators, good and bad are legion. Milton, Keats, and Tennyson are among the best of them, and its influence is still powerful.
Q. 22. How will you justify Ben Jonson’s dictum that Spenser write ‘no language’?
Ans. This dictum of Ben Jonson implies that Spenser elaborated an archaic diction. When the occasion demanded it he invented words or word-forms; for example, he uses blend for blind, kest for cast, and vilde for vile. The result is not perhaps ideal, but on the whole it suits the old world atmosphere of the poem.
Q. 23. What are characteristics of Spenser’s poetry?
Ans. Firstly, his poetry has a perfect melody. Secondly his poetry has rare sense of beauty. Thirdly, his poetry is saturated with a plendid imagination. We can observe heroes, knights, ladies, dwarfs, demons and dragons. There are episodes of chivalry and mythology. Moreover, all the knights and ladies are passing in a gorgeous procession. Fourthly, his poetry has a lofty moral purity and seriousness. Finally, his poetry has a delicate idealism which could make all nature and every common thing beautiful.
Q. 24. How will you justify that Spenser is “The poets’ poet”?
Ans. With Spenser, English poetry climbed again an Alpine peak not scaled since Chaucer’s day. His influence on English poetry has been immense. Charles Lamb called him “the poets’ poet”. His poetry is a land-mark in the history of English poetry. Since his days, the great English poets have paid him tributes and have got inspiration from his works. He influenced a large number of verse writers, in his own day. Gowley and, Dryden at a later period testified to his inspiring influence as a literary artist.
Q. 25. How will you discuss Spenser as the Child of Renaissance?
Ans. The Renaissance marked the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the modern world. In addition to the external far-reaching changes, it brought the great spiritual and mental re-birth. Born in the lap of Renaissance, Spenser’s mental make-up was influxed with the new spirit. Because of the influence of the New Learning, he draws quite freely upon the treatment of classical poets such as Homer, Virgil, Claudian and Ovid.
Q. 26. What was the influence of Reformation on ‘The Fairie Queene’?
Ans. The Fairie Queene is a very useful document which conveys realistically the Christian dogmas. The book itself is the outline history of the Reformation in England. In the form of an allegory, it recounts the conflict going on between two groups. Protestant England was headed by Queen Elizabeth, while the Catholic forces were represented by the Queen of Scots. Spenser had great abhorrence for the Catholic religion. He wanted to stamp out all the great enemies of the Reformed Church.
Q. 27. What was the influence of Platonism on Spenser?
Ans. The fundamental doctrine of Platonism, as it was understood throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, was the reality of heavenly beauty known in and by the soul, as contrasted with the earthly beauty known only by the senses. Spenser had studied Plato, and had been greatly influenced by his philosophy. This influence is specially visible in the first book of the Fairie Queene, where Spenser has blended Christian discipline and Platonic idealism in the legend of the Red Cross Knight.
Q. 28. What was Spenser’s contribution to diction and versification?
Ans. Diction and versification in England became almost a lost art after the death of Chaucer. Of his followers, only those in Scotland showed any of their master’s skill. The English Chaucerians, Lydgate Occleve, and the others were amazingly incompetent. In the sixteenth century better days arrived. The time had come to remaster the art of verse. Spencer made a great contribution in this respect. He was the conscious founder of poetic diction. Though Chaucer had already made sufficient progress in the art of versification, yet there was no standard English in Spenser’s day. Spenser followed in the-footsteps of his great predecessor, Chaucer. He repeatedly acknowledged him as his master “a most sacred happier spirit—the well of English undefiled”.
Q. 29. How will you discuss Shakespeare’s career as a dramatist?
Ans. There are four stages in the development of the dramatic art of Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s first period represents the time of his apprenticeship to the art of the dramatist. The first period is called ‘In the Workshop’ when. Shakespeare was learning his trade as a dramatic craftsman. The second period shows in general a great advance in power of characterisation and in the command of poetic resources. This period is called ‘In the World’, that is, in this period Shakespeare gets some experience of human life. The third period extends from the beginning of the seventeenth century to about 1608. This is called the period of Sadness and Philosophical Contemplation. The Fourth period is the period of Calmness and Serenity and extends from 1609 to 1613.
Q. 30. How will you discuss Shakespeare’s Originality in the dramatic art?
Ans. Shakespeare took no trouble to be original. He borrowed right and left from the older playwrights. But he transformed and vitalised by the glowing splendour of his imagination the matter so obtained. Thus the passages in the English historical plays are metrical paraphrases of Holinshed’s Chronicle, and the matter for plays dealing with Roman history is drawn from Plutarch’s Lives. Yet the plays of Shakespeare are clothed with a light that never was on sea or land, with ‘the glory and freshness of a dream’. He has put the very flesh and blood into the dry bones of history.
Q. 31. How will you appreciate Shakespeare’s art of Characterisation?
Ans. Besides his invention, the poet’s capital gift was certainly that he could endow historical and imaginary beings with life, not intermittently and by flashes like most of his contemporaries but constantly so that, though waved hither and thither in the whirlpool of the world they do not lose their identity. Each character bears the stamp of Shakespeare’s creative genius, the characteristic mark of his individuality. But this extraordinary power Shakespeare exercised so easily, naturally and spontaneously that it never gives us an impression of effort.
Q. 32. Shakespeare’s dramas mark Universality. Do you agree with this statement?
Ans. It would be wrong to identify Shakespeare with any of his characters. His supremacy lies in this that he could see and understand so much, as life could, pierce the heart of so many passions, without falling a prey to any aspect of life; so that we say of him that he is universal, and we dare not say what was his personality.
Q. 33. How will you make critical appraisal of Shakespeare’s Style?
Ans. Shakespeare had an amazing genius for words. He shows unrivalled powers of expression. The beauty of words, the aptness and originality of phrases, the wealth of striking similes and metaphors, the felicities of language, the richness and sweetness of verse—these are found in his plays to an astonishing degree. There is on every occasion such a multitudinous flow of words and images from Shakespeare’s mind as nothing seems able to stop.
Q. 34. What are your views about the Dialogue of Shakespeare’s plays?
Ans. The element of the greatness of Shakespeare is the perfect naturalness of his dialogue. Shakespeare is a master of dramatic dialogue in short, all models and formulae by which anger-hurry irritation scorn, impatience, or excitement are expressed—these are as plentiful in Shakespeare’s dialogue as in life itself.
Q. 35. What is Shakespeare’s place in the history of world’s literature?
Shakespeare holds, by general acclamation, the foremost place in the world’s literature, and his overwhelming greatness renders it difficult to criticise or even to praise him. Two poets only, Homer and Dante, have been named with him; but each of these wrote within narrow limits, while Shakespeare’s genius included all the world of nature and of men. Ben Jonson said of Shakespeare: “He was not of an age, but for all time.”
Q. 36. What is the influence of Shakespeare on English language?
Ans. His influence upon English language and thought is beyond calculation. Shakespeare and the King James Bible are the two great conservators of the English speech, and one who habitually reads them finds himself possessed of a style and vocabulary that are beyond criticism. Even those who read no Shakespeare are still unconsciously guided by him, for his thought and expression have so pervaded English life and literature that is impossible, so long as one speaks the English language, to escape his influence.
Q. 37. How will you appreciate the early comedies of Shakespeare?
Ans. In these immature plays the plots are less original, the characters less finished and the style lacks the power of the mature Shakespeare. They are full of wit and word play, usually put into the mouths of young gallants, but often the humour is puerile and wit degenerates into mere verbal quibbling. Of this type are The Comedy of Errors, Love’s Labour Lost and The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Q. 38. How will you define the History Play?
Ans. Any kind of drama, even farce, can have a theme from history as its source. There is however a separate type of historical drama which is different in, construction from other plays—Shakespeare’s Histories fall into this category. The unity necessary to a play is found in the logical sequence of a succession of episodes rather than in the Aristotelian unities. There may be a marked mixture of tragic and comic episodes, aimed at giving a representation of life as it is; several themes may be interwoven; and the action extends over a long period ‘of time, a lifetime or even more.
Q. 39. How will you discuss the mature comedies of Shakespeare?
Ans. Here is the fine flower of Shakespeare’s comic genius. The comic spirit manifests itself at many levels—the sophisticated wit of Beatrice and Benedick or the clowning of Dogberry and Verges in Much Ado About Nothing; the jovial good humour of Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night; the lighter clowning of Launcelot Gobbo in The Merchant of Venice; the urbane worldly-wise humour of Touchstone in As You Like It. The plays are full of vitality, contain many truly comic situation; and reveal great warmth and humanity. In this group there is much prose.
Q. 40. Shakespearean comedy has been characterised as poetic. Do you agree with this statement?
Ans. The Shakespearean comedy is called by poetic because in it story and the atmosphere are more like those in romances which are spun out of make-beliefs. We usually criticize the improbabilities and
exaggerations in the comedies; we forget that their world is a different world from ours and subject to its own laws. So much for the names of the Shakespearean comedy.
Q. 41. How do you justify that Shakespearean comedy is the mixture of tragic element?
Ans. It is commonplace of Shakespeare criticism that he mixed comedy and tragedy. His comedies have some tragic scenes; his tragedies have some comic scenes. This mixture of comedy and tragedy is against the ancient principle of unity, and a classical dramatist like Ben Jonson disapproved of this practice. But Shakespeare followed no narrow rules; he saw that in life, there was a mixture of tragedy and comedy, and he wanted his drama to be a copy of life.
Q. 42. What are the dominating characteristics of the mature comedies of Shakespeare?
Ans. Firstly, Shakespearean comedy has its scene of action located in a distant, untraceable, no-man’s land, even though it bears a well-recognized name. The place is natural in its environments, temperate in its climate, rich in food, water, beautiful and picturesque, quiet but not dull. Secondly, however romantic the background and the atmosphere may be, life keeps hovering over it and enters into it. The characters are men and women in flesh, with human passions and pursuits. Love is their chief pastime but they experience much rough and tumble before ultimate success. Finally, the main plot is always woven with sub-plots which not only supplement the interest in the chief characters but also brings the main subject into prominence and also relieves the situation of its tones of melancholy and tragedy.
Q. 43. “All lectures on Shakespeare’s comedies tend to become lectures on Shakespeare’s women”. Do you agree with this statement?
Ans. Shakespeare’s comedies present a world where women are supreme and superior to men. They are not only handsome and witty but clear-headed, frank in facing facts and possess a power of deciding (at the spur of the moment) what is to be done and have the requisite courage to do it and the luck to come out with banner flying. In Merchant of Venice Porita attracts Bassanio by her wealth and beauty but wins his heart by her wit and manners.
Q. 44. Which tragedy of Shakespeare do you like most?
Ans. It seems to me that in Othello Shakespeare’s genius is at its height; his understanding is nowhere more penetrating nor his compassion more profound. This is a document of the human race, not of individuals named in the play and bounded by it, not limited to any age or country. It stands alone. Never again will Shakespeare take us into this realm of music and madness, of terror and pity and glory.
Q. 45. What are the dominating features of Shakespearean tragedy?
Ans. Firstly, with Shakespeare, tragedy is generally concerned with persons of ‘high degree’; often with kings, princes, and sometimes with the leaders of men such as Coriolanus Othello etc. Secondly, the calamities of tragedy do not simply, happen, nor are they sent by a supernatural power: they proceed mainly from the actions of men. Thirdly, conscious, voluntary actions—actions expressive of character—are the very essence of a tragedy. Fourthly, the action of a tragedy may be described as a conflict. There are two types of conflict, i.e., outward conflict and inward struggle going on in the hero’s soul. Finally, we come to the hero. The hero with Shakespeare is an exceptional being—a person of high degree or of public importance. The hero has often one predominant passion or feeling.
Q. 46. What is the ultimate power in the tragic world of Shakespeare?
Ans. Here is the recognition of a moral order in the universe. This moral order shows itself akin to good and alien from evil. This moral order may be described as a balance or harmony. This harmony or balance is disturbed by the temporary success of evil. It is sure to right itself by eliminating the evil. It has a passion for perfection; everything that is not perfect will perish the hero perishes because he has some marked imperfection or defect—such as irresolution, precipitancy, pride, credulousness, excessive simplicity, excessive susceptibility to sexual emotions. Thus the irresolution of Hamlet brings ruin on him. Man is, therefore, the victim of his own passions and desires. The tragedy lies not in the expulsion of evil: the tragedy is that it involves the waste of good. In its effort to overcome and expel evil, the whole (moral order) is agonised with pain, and thus loses not only evil but priceless good. That this idea is no solution of the riddle of life is obvious, Shakespeare was writing tragedy and tragedy would not be tragedy if it were not a painful mystery.
Q. 47. What do you know about a Shakespearean Hero?
Ans. A tragedy, speaking generally, has many characters who may be important in a descending order, or some of whom may be equally important. Thus in a Greek tragedy the rival may be as important as the hero. A Shakespearean tragedy may, therefore, be safely described as the story of a single character, the others are eclipsed by the hero, and play ancillary and contributory parts. The hero must be a person of “high degree,” a King Lear or a prince Hamlet, a General of the Republic like Othello, a leader in the State like Brutus, Antony or Coriolanus.
Q. 48. What do you know about the construction of Shakespearean Tragedy?
Ans. As a Shakespearean tragedy represents a conflict which terminates in a catastrophe, any such tragedy may be divided into three parts. The first of these sets forth or expounds the situation, or state of affairs, out of which the conflict arises; and it may therefore be called the Exposition. The second deals with the definite beginning, the growth and the vicissitudes of the conflict. The final section of the tragedy shows the issue of the conflict in a catastrophe.
Q. 49. What do you understand about the Roman Plays of Shakespeare?
Ans. These are based on North’s translation of Plutarch’s Lives, and, though written at fairly wide intervals, are usually considered as a group, Julius Caesar, contemporary with the English histories, shows the same concern with. political security, and in its depth of the character study is approaching the great tragedies. Antony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus follow the great tragic period and, while the former, in soaring imagination and tragic power, is truly great, both of them show some relaxation of tragic intensity.
Q. 50. How will you make the critical appraisal of Shakespeare’s Last Plays?
Ans. A mellowed maturity is the chief feature of this group, which contains Cymbeline; The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest. The creative touch of the dramatist, making living men out of figment, is abundantly in view; the style is notable and serenely adequate; and with the ease of the master the author thoroughly subdues the metre to his will. No more fitting conclusion––rich, ample, and graciously dignified—could be found to round to round off the work of our greatest literary genius than these plays of reconciliation and forgiveness.
Q. 51. What do you understand about the Post-Shakespearean drama?
Ans. It will be found that, although much of the work was composed during Shakespeare’s life time, the most typical of the plays appeared after his death. On the whole, moreover, the work marks a decline from the Shakespearean standard, and so we are probably justified in calling this type of drama post-Shakespearean. The chief dramatists of this period were Ben Jonson, Francis Beaumont, John Fletcher, George Chapman, John Marston, Thomas Middleton, Thomas Dekker, Thomas Heywood and John Webster.
Q. 52. What do you understand about Ben Jonson’s Middle Group of Comedies and the later comedies?
Ans. The middle group of comedies of Ben Jonson are, Volpone or the Fox, Epicaene, or the Silent Woman. The Alchemist and Bartholomew Fair which represent his best works. They are more mature works than his early comedies. They are satirical in tone. Volpone is one of the most relentless exposures of vice in England. His middle group comedies are realistic and natural in dialogue. They are ingenious in plot. The characters are less angular and more convincing. His later comedies are The Devil is an Ass and The Staple of News which indicate a distinct degradation in the comic art of Ben Jonson.
Q. 53. How will you estimate Ben Jonson’s comedy as the Comedy of Manners?
Ans. Ben Jonson’s comedy is treated as the Comedy of Manners. Ben Jonson’s comedies are full of satire the glorious days of Queen Elizabeth were over and great ideals had fallen. Jonson noted the vice in filthy and loathsome form in society which he wanted to eradicate. His victims were all kinds of quacks and hypocrites, parasites, fortune-hunters, lusty lovers, rogues, gulls, alchemists, astrologers, witch-finders, and PuritAns. Even his heroes are villains. In the mature comedies, The Alchemist, Volpone, The Silent Woman, he turns from the satire of existing individuals to types and classes.
Q. 54. Discuss the classical tone in the Ben Jonsonian comedy?
Ans. Ben Jonson was the first great English neo classicist. Like Donne, he revolted against the artistic principles of his contemporaries. He found in the classics a cure for the uncontrolled, romantic exuberance of Elizabethan literature. In all branches of his writings he is a conscious artist and reformer. To him the chief function of literature was to instruct and delight. Among all the branches of literature, he specifically made a unique contribution to the art of comedy. In his comedies he aimed at returning to the controlled, satirical, realistic comedy of the classical dramatists. In his introductions of his plays, he made it clear that he hoped to inform the drama on these lines. His main concern was the drawing of character.
Q. 55. How will you estimate Ben Jonson as a playwright?
Ans. The enormous prestige of Shakespeare cannot or ought not to belittle the merits of Jonson. Of Jonson, we can justly say that he had all good literary gifts except one, and that the highest and most baffling of all—true genius. He had learning—perhaps too much of it; industry and constancy well beyond the ordinary; versatility; a crabbed and not unamiable humour, diversified with sweetness, grace, and nimbleness of wit; a style quite adequate to his needs; and an insight into contemporary life and manners greater than that of any writer of his day.
Q. 56. How will you compare and contrast Shakespeare and Ben Jonson as dramatists?
Ans. Jonson’s method is different from Shakespeare’s. He does not start with a story and build up his characterisation from the story like Shakespeare. On the other hand, he starts with his characters and devises a plot to suit and exhibit them. Jonson is limited in his delineation of human nature by his admiration for the conventional characterisation of Latin comedy, and he is limited still more by Elizabethan psychology. He has none of Shakespeare’s humour that can perceive wit and a fool, courage of a kind in a braggart and humanity in a monster. Jonson’s comic creations are more like those of Dickens than like those of Thackeray and much more like Smollett’s than Jane Austen’s.
Q. 57. How will you define Tragi-comedy?
Ans. A tragi-comedy was some sort of mixture: high characters in a play ending happily, or a mingling of deaths and feasts, or, most often as in many American films threats of death which are happily evaded. Jon Fletcher, who with his collaborator Francis Beaumont wrote graceful dramas relying heavily on passionate outbursts and surprising turns of plot, defined a targi-comedy as a play that lacks deaths (and thus is no tragedy) but brings some near it, which is enough to make it no comedy.
Q. 58. How will you estimate Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher as comedians?
Ans. Beaumont and Fletcher excelled in comedy, especially in the comedy of London life. They felt the influence of both Shakespeare and Jonson, but their plays are generally more superficial. They are mainly targi-comedies, full of striking incidents, and stage effects. Their plots sustain interest and are often ingenious, lively, and entertaining, though rather loosely knit. The characters are numerous and widely varied, but the concentration on incident often makes them shallow. Full of witty dialogue, the plays attain a high level of lucidity and simplicity in their style, but they lack the Shakespearean wealth of imagery.
Q. 59. How will you define ‘essay’?
Ans. Johnson defines an essay as a loose sally of the mind; an irregular indigested piece; not a regular or orderly composition. This definition is not quite complete, for it does not cover such an elaborate work as Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. But for the miscellaneous prose essay, which it is our immediate business to consider here, the definition will do. An essay, therefore, must in other words be short, unmethodical, personal and written in a style that is literary, easy and elegant.
Q. 60. How will you differentiate Bacon’s essays from those of Montaigne?
Ans. Montaigne’s essays are familiar, personal and discursive, while Bacon’s are methodical and impersonal, Montaigne invariably likes to write in the first person: he portrays whatever he feels. But Bacon’s essays are “dispersed meditations”. His outlook is objective. .
Q. 61. What is the style of Bacon’s essay?
Ans. Bacon’s essays are brief and full of condensed, weigthy, antithetical sentences, which have the’ qualities of proverbial expressions, and are notable for their precision and clarity of phrasing. Many have striking openings: “Revenge is a wild king of justice, which the more man’s nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out” (Of Revenge); “God Almighty first planted a garden; and indeed it is the purest of human pleasures” (Of Gardens); “Men fear death, as children fear to go in dark”. (Of Death).
Q. 62. What was Bacon’s contribution to critical thought?
Ans. Bacon’s contribution to critical thought is immense. He is a bell-ringer, who is up first to call others to Church. In his Advancement of Learning, he is one of the earliest to seek to consolidate and unify his knowledge; in his Essays he is the pioneer of clear, sententious English, the suggests rather than expound and blends dignity with familiarity. In his Henry VII, he shows the possibilities of a flowing, orderly and picturesque narrative that shall compel attention without recourse to strange conceits. Finally, in his New Atlantis with its plea for a College of Scientific Research, he started a movement that led to the foundation of the Royal Society, and inspired in a later era that stupendous undertaking, The French Encyclopedia.
Q. 63. What do you know about the Literary Criticism of the Age of Elizabeth?
Ans. In the Age of Elizabeth the critics turned to the classics for their guides and models. They were chiefly concerned with three topics. Firstly, the status and value of poetry was taken into consideration. Gasson attacked poetry as immoral in his puritanical, The School of Abuse, and Sidney replied in his famous Apologie for Poetrie. Secondly, the critics laid stress laid stress on the importance of classical models. Finally, there was the controversy over the merits and demerits of rhyme. Daniel’s famous A Defence of Rhyme asserted the right of every literature to its own customs and traditions.
Q. 64. How will you comment upon the prose-style of the Age of Elizabeth?
Ans. Unlike that of poetry, the style of prose enjoys of steady development, continued from the previous age, and maintained through the Elizabethan age. Euphuism, which appeared early in epoch, was a kind of literary measles incidental to early growth, and it quickly passed away, leaving the general body of English prose healthier than before. There is an increase in the raw material of prose in the shape of many foreign words that are imported; there is a growing expertness in sentence and paragraph construction and in the more delicate graces of style such as rhythm and melody. The prose of Hooker and Bacon represents the furthest development of the time. Prose style has yet a great deal to learn, but it is learning fast.