After Shakespeare's death, the poet and dramatist Ben Jonson was the leading literary figure of the Jacobean era. However,Jonson's aesthetics harks back to the middle ages rather than than to the Tudor Era: his characters embody the theory of humors. According to that, the universe is made of four elements: earth, water, air,and fire and behavioral differences result as a prevalence of one element over the other three (this was the guiding principle for doctors too). This leads Jonson to exemplify such differences to thepoint of creating types, or clichés, while Shakespeare had already abandoned such theory in favor of modern psychology. But Jonson is a master of style, and a brilliant satirist. His Volpone shows howa group of scammers are fooled by a top con-artist, vice being punished by vice, virtue meeting its reward.
Ben Jonson - Jacobean era
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Others who followedJonson's style include Beaumont and Fletcher, who, though not as talented as Shakespeare, wrote notheless a brilliant comedy, The Knight of the Burning Pestle, a mockery of the rising middle class andespecially of those nouveau riches who pretend to dictate literary taste without knowing much literature at all. In the story, a couple of grocers wrangle with professional actors to have theirillitterate son play a leading role in a drama. He becomes a knight errant wearing, most appropriately, a burning pestle on his shield. Seeking to win a princess's heart, the young man is ridiculed much in theway Don Quixote will be in this future novel. One of Beaumont and Fletcher's chief merits was that of realising how feudalism and chivalry had turned into snobbery and make-believe and that new socialclasses were on the rise.
Beaumont and Fletcher - The Knight of the Burning Pestle
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Another popular style of theatre during Jacobean times was the revenge...
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