The Elizabethan Age, The Puritan Age and the Restoration Period

Today I prepared seven questions focused on three important historical periods in English literature - the Elizabethan Age (1558-1603), The Puritan Age (1649-1660) and the Restoration Period (1660-1700). In other words, Shakespeare, John Milton and thinkers who prioritized human brain over heart and feelings. When we talk about the literature masterpieces dated back to the above named periods, we can find plays (drama, comedies), poesy and essays. The prose as we know it today was not introduced until The Age of Reason (1700-1740), so do not confuse these terms. But I will explore the birth of novel in the next quiz. 

Now, shall we begin?

1.Who was the first English essayist, laying the foundations for modern scientific study?

  • A) Francis Bacon
  • B) Edmund Spenser
  • C) Sir Philip Sidney

2.William Shakespeare, by many called the greatest writer of all time, had a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men. Queen Elizabeth's successor, James I, became its patron and renamed it to:

  • A) The Admiral's Men
  • B) The King's Men
  • C) Queen Elizabeth's Men

3.Everyone knows William Shakespeare. But try to name his contemporaries:

  • A) John Milton (Paradise Lost), John Locke (Treaties of Government)
  • B) Samuel Richardson (Clarissa Harlowe), Robert Burns (Auld Lang Syne)
  • C) Christopher Marlowe (Dr Faustus), Ben Jonson (The Alchemist)

4.The title of the book Brave New World, written by dystopian author Aldous Huxley, alludes to which one of Shakespeare's plays?

  • Romance The Tempest
  • Tragedy Hamlet
  • Comedy Twelfth Night

5.Why did the Puritans close the theatres in 1642, the year that is sometimes called the end of a great period of theatre?

  • A) Because the play writers were not coming up with the new themes
  • B) The Puritans viewed theatres as a "dangerous" form of entertainment
  • C) The Puritans did not have enough money to support the theatres

6.John Milton, the author of the great epic poem Paradise Lost, was supporting which political group during the Puritan Age (1649-1660)?

  • A) The Cavaliers (royalists)
  • B) The Roundheads (parliamentarians)

7.The Restoration Period (1660-1700), restoring the monarchy in England, let later to the Age of Reason (1700-1740) and the birth of novel. Who were two influential thinkers of the first mentioned period?

  • A) Thomas Hobbes (The Leviathan), John Locke (Treaties of Government)
  • B) John Dryden (Essay of Dramatic Poesy), Alexander Pope (Essay on Man)
  • C) George Etheredge (The Man of Mode), John Vanbrugh (The Relapse)

Correct answers (with some explanation of the other mentioned names and terms):

  • 1.A (Edmund Spencer and Sir Philip were great poets during the Elizabethan, also known as Golden, Age)
  • 2.B (The other two mentioned names were used by different companies in that time)
  • 3.C (the rest of the mentioned authors was writing much later - in addition to that, John Milton was not creating plays; John Locke focused on essays, advocating the power of people over the absolute power; Samuel Richardson is considered to be the father of novel; and Robert Burns was a Scottish poet during the period of Early Romanticism)
  • 4.A (the title comes from the romance The Tempest, which is believed to be Shakespeare's last written play. Huxley uses it as an irony, because "the brave new world" seemingly refers to something perfect and beautiful, however, it turns out to be the exact opposite.)
  • 5.B
  • 6.B (in general, the Puritan Age was the age of poetry - however, Cavalier poets were writing charming sweet poetry, while Roundhead/puritan poets produced rather "sober" poems)
  • 7.A (Hobbes was defending the idea of absolute rule and power, saying: "homo homini lupus" - man is wolf to man, while Locke was suggesting that the power should rest in the people and not in the monarchy. John Dryden wrote important literary criticism, Alexander Pope was a poet during the Age of Reason, and George Etheredge and John Vanbrugh were producing so-called comedies of manners during the Restoration Period)

Reading Tips

  1. William Shakespeare - The Taming of the Shrew, Julias Caesar, Macbeth - I cannot say that I read Shakespeare every night before going to bed, but these three plays are my favourite. One comedy, one history play, and one of his greatest tragedies nicely represent Shakespeare's writing skills.
  2. John Milton - Paradise Lost - this epic poem is composed out of 12 books, focusing on the central theme of freedom of choice. I completely understand if you do not want to read the entire masterpiece, but I would suggest to have a look on the first book, describing the fall of Satan. Beautifully written, exploring different side of Satan's personality.