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|Title:||Jonson: The Poet in the Theatre. Studies in the Fate of an Ideal.|
|Authors:||Ward, Barbara E.|
|Advisor:||M., Douglas J.|
|Keywords:||English Language and Literature;English Language and Literature|
|Abstract:||<p>In this thesis I am concerned with the fairly conssitent moral and aesthetic theory which seems to shape all of Jonson's writing. I am especially interested in Jonson's dictum that the good poet must be the good man. This leads on to an examination of the Jonsonian personality, with all its irresistible vigour, honesty, good-humour and coarseness, which always lurks with the obvious discrepancy between Jonson the man and Jonson the moral poet, and in particular how Jonson uses an understanding of his own personality to comment upon both the role of the artist in society, and the tenability of moral idealism.</p> <p>I am further concerned with the problems presented to Jonson as a moral poet writing for the popular theatre. Throughout his career as a playwright Jonson was faced with the difficulty of writing so-called 'closet' dramas for a learned elite which would also perform successfully in the public theatre. The early plays under have little theatrical value but do consistently dramatize Jonson's ideal of himself as the moral poet. In the 'Charis' sequence Jonson's ironic self-consciousness of his own humanity comments significantly upon the limitations of a moral and poetic idealism. By the time of the writing of the great comedies, Volnone, Epicoene, The Alchemist and Bartholomew Fair I find that Jonson has disguised his moral idealism so as to be successful in the theatre. These plays are remarkable for their dramatic excitement, an indication that Jonson had an obvious flair for the stage. The later plays, with their bittersweet and very personal tone, were written at a time when Jonson no longer had a voice or place in Caroline society, and when he was suffering from ill-health and poverty. Again I found a consistent upholding of the idea of the poet as moralist but, moreover, a crucial acceptance of the playwright's medium. At the very end of his writing career Jonson seemed to be closing the gap between the moral poet and the popular dramatist.</p>|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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