Renaissance Drama in English Literature: Notes on Characteristics & Themes

Table of Contents

Main Features

  1. University Wits: Christopher Marlowe, Robert Greene, George peel, Thomas Nashe and Thomas Lodge. The generation was educated at Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
  2. They used the poetry to make theatre, breathe life into dead classical models and bring a new audience to the issues and conflicts which the stage could dramatize.
  3. Marlowe has been described as a sexual-political thinker.
  4. He wrote one of the renowned work Dr Faustus.
  5. During the age, comedy and tragedy were the two main types of drama.
  6. Both these genres were derived from Latin sources
  7. Comedy: from the works of Terence and Plautus.
  8. Tragedy: from the  Seneca.
  9. First comedy: Ralph Roister Doister by Nicholas Udall (1552).
  10. First tragedy: Gorboducby Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville.
  11. Gorboduc replaced the awkward distancing of characters speaking in rhymed verse with the blank verse that became a standard form of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama.
  12. Interludes, morality plays and mystery plays contributed to the development of Renaissance drama.
  13. The Four PP by John Haywood was a link between later medieval morality plays and 16th-century theatre. 


  1. Fixed theatres were established in London which was open to the sky.
  2. Daytime performances started taking place.
  3. The thrust stage was pushed out into the audience who stood around it on three sides.
  4. The development of theatre paved the way for the growth of an acting culture.


  1. Around 12000 new words were introduced in the English language from more than 50 languages.
  2. Inkhorn Controversy came into existence- Some writers believed that Greek and Latin words were better than the English words while some others like John Cheke felt that such words were not a natural part of English.