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Pages 539-545

Pages 539-545 - Pages 539-545 Late Seventeenth and...

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Pages 539-545: Late Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Drama The Restoration: Rebirth of Drama Theater in England continued to thrive after Shakespeare’s death. o John Fletcher was the chosen successor to Shakespeare at the Globe, and he furnished the theater with as many as four plays a year. However, in 1642 civil war erupted between Charles I and Parliament. Parliament was under the control of the Puritans and it eventually won. o Theatergoing for the Puritans was synonymous with wasting time and under the Puritan government, all theaters in England were closed for almost 20 years. Charles II became king in 1660. Charles had spent time in France and he had seen the remarkable achievements of French comedy and French classical tragedy. He brought with him to England a taste for theater and he permitted favorites to build new theaters during a time known as the Restoration. Theater on the Continent: Neoclassicism Even though interaction was intermittent between England, Spain, and France, the development of theater in all 3 countries took similar turns throughout the 1600s. By the 1630s, the French were aware of Spanish achievements in the theater. o Pierre Corneille was France’s leading playwright at the time and he adopted a Spanish Story be de Castro. It was called Le Cid and it became one of his most important plays. Corneille and the neoclassicists were part of a large movement in European culture and the arts that tried to codify and emulate the achievement of the ancients. Qualities such as harmony, symmetry, balance in everything structural and clear moral themes were most in evidence. Neoclassicism valued thought over feeling so the thematic material in neoclassical drama was very important. o Neoclassical dramatists focused on honor, moral integrity, self-sacrifice, and heroic political subjects. Some “rule critics” held playwrights strictly to the Aristotelian concepts of the unities of time, place, character, and action. They wanted a play to have one plot, a single action that takes place in one day, and a single setting. o Corneille’s work didn’t please critics so they turned to the younger Jean Racine.
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Phaedra was Racine’s most famous and possibly his best play. It is a deeply passionate, moral play centering on the love of Phaedra for her stepson, Hippolytus. Venus is responsible for her incestuous love – which is the playwright’s way of saying that Phaedra is impelled by the gods or by destiny, almost against her will. The French Stage, unlike the English stage, never substituted boys for female
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