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The term, “Elizabethan Era” refers to the English history of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign (1558–1603). Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history and it’s been widely romanticized in books, movies, plays, and TV series. The Elizabethan age is considered to be a time of English renaissance that inspired national pride through classical ideals, international expansion, and naval triumph.
The Elizabethan age saw the flowering of poetry (the sonnet, the Spenserian stanza, dramatic blank verse), was a golden age of drama (especially for the plays of Shakespeare), and inspired a wide variety of splendid prose (from historical chronicles, versions of the Holy Scriptures, pamphlets, and literary criticism to the first English novels). From about the beginning of the 17th century a sudden darkening of tone became noticeable in most forms of literary expression, especially in drama, and the change more or less coincided with the death of Elizabeth. English literature from 1603 to 1625 is properly called Jacobean, after the new monarch, James I. But, insofar as 16th-century themes and patterns were carried over into the 17th century, the writing from the earlier part of his reign, at least, is sometimes referred to by the amalgam “Jacobethan.” In Elizabethan era, there’s a chain prevailed as Elizabethans believed, that is “The Great Chain of Being” or also called Chain of Being.
Elizabethans believed that God set out an order for everything in the universe. This was known as the Great Chain of Being. On Earth, God created a social order for everybody and chose where you belonged. In other words, the king or queen was in charge because God put them there and they were only answerable to God (the Divine Right of Kings). This meant that disobeying the monarch was a sin, which was handy for keeping people in their place. It also led to the idea that if the wrong person was monarch everything would go wrong for a country, including whether the crops would be good, or if animals behaved as they should. The Elizabethans were very superstitious. The great chain of being was not only being believed by Elizabethan era (Plato’s 15th BC: see also, faculty.grandview.edu.) Nowadays, it has been the generic structure believed by people around the world.
The Great Chain of Being includes everything from God progressing downward to angels, demons (fallen angels) at the top, star, moon, king, queen, princes, noble, man (represented human), wild animal, domesticated animal (represented animals), trees, other plants (represented plants), precious stones, precious metal (represented materials) other minerals and finally, rock at the bottom. It moves from beings of pure spirit at the top of the Chain to things made entirely of matter at the bottom. Humans are pretty much in the middle, being mostly mortal, or made of matter, but with a soul made of spirit. The theory started with the Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato, but was a basic assumption of life in Elizabethan England. You were a noble, or a farmer, or a beggar, because that was the place God had ordained for you.
The Great Chain of Being is a major influence on Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Macbeth disturbs the natural order of things by murdering the king and stealing the throne. This throws all of nature into uproar, including a story related by an old man that the horses in their stables went mad and ate each other, a symbol of unnatural happenings.
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