The English Restoration Essay
The English Restoration
The Restoration was a revolutionary period for both history and literature. Before the Restoration period began, England was under rule of the Protectorate. They believed in strict Puritan law. Under this law, Protestants and Jews were accepted, but they would not accept the Episcopalians or Roman Catholics. There was one man who acted as the dictator of England, and that was Oliver Cromwell. Things were conducted in a very traditional way. At this point in time people were getting very tired of the Puritan regime. They were tired of being treated unfairly by the government (Fletcher). The literature at this time was somewhat strict.
Most of the writers wrote in a very simple style that created complex images. Not many authors ever thought of writing outside the form of that day. Many writers of the time wrote plays, but were unable to have them acted out because the Puritans closed all of the theaters, believing that theaters were evil places (Merritt 245). This Puritanical order only lasted eighteen years. The Restoration started in 1660 when the people had finally had enough of the Protectorate. England regained its monarchy, as Charles II was named king. Charles II was seen as the lands savior. Along with his arrival came a more relaxed country.
The people exiled everything that reminded them of the Puritans. One of the significant events of this time was when the theaters opened up once again. The writings of many authors now were morally loose as most people now felt carefree, and self-indulged. The transition from the strict, overbearing type of government to this one that was relaxed and less stressful is comparable to Rome, when Augustus took the throne to try and settle things down after Caesar died. There was an uproar from the people about Caesar’s death. They wanted and needed a ruler that would bring stability Luloff 2 back to the land.
They wanted someone who would help them get back to their normal lives. This desire for normalcy was evident throughout England. They felt Charles II could help them settle into a better life with fewer restrictions (Restoration Period). One of the most important things to come out of the Restoration Period was the literature. Whether it was prose, or a theatric work, literature was revolutionized during this period. The literature of this period varied from one extreme to another. There were works on everything from the politics of Charles II, to sexual comedies of a housewife (Restoration Literature).
One style of writing that changed during the Restoration was prose. Before the Restoration, prose was something that became fashionable to elaborate in. During the Restoration that became less important to the writers. What did become important to the writers was that they were able to express themselves clearly, simply, and directly (Merritt 254). There were several different types of prose that were written at this time. Two particular types of prose were fostered into something that would rule over literature later in time. Those two types were fiction and journalism. Christian religious prose dominated the subjects discussed.
Most prose tended to be about economic and political issues. Another form of literature that changed during the Restoration period was drama. Drama was banned from the people previous to the Restoration. When Charles II came into power he saw into making sure that all of the theaters were open. By law, each theater had to play so many plays in a certain amount of time. Drama evolved so much that during the Restoration actresses were first seen. Drama also was very diverse. Most drama of the time was full of wit (Restoration). The most popular genres of plays were serious drama and comedy.
The serious dramas were often about a hero facing various problems. The hero would have some feature that was either physical or mental that makes the audience see him as the leader. At the Luloff 3 end of the play the hero would bring justice back to the land using his sword. The rise of actresses in drama demanded that some plays center around females. They wanted larger parts where more attention could be brought to them. This created the pathetic tragedy. The pathetic tragedy centered on love and domestic issues. This type of tragedy was first to bring tears to the audience.
The plays dealt with things that touched home for everyone in the audience. Another form of drama that was popular was the comedy. The comedy often dealt with matters that were sexually explicit, which was what Charles II often preferred. Later in the Restoration, plays became softer and they mostly dealt with cultural issues. Many plays made light of different aspects of life that were changing (Restoration Literature). Poetry was also a type of literature that changed. Most all poetry was written in the form of a heroic couplet. Along with writing these was a want of regularity.
There was not one particular genre of poetry that was written more than others. All genres were put into the heroic couplet format. Many writers also tended to put some sort of virtue in everything that was written (Wright 228). During the Restoration there were many authors that sort of shaped the period. The most important person was John Dryden. Dryden’s works defined the ideals of balance, judgement, and social responsibility that were important at that time (Wright 228). Dryden at one time was a supporter of the Puritans, but over time he switched over to supporting the restored monarchy.
Dryden had also converted from Angelican faith to Roman Catholicism. He justified himself in several of his works. He wrote all different types of things that showed his diverse writing skills. Dryden wrote everything from plays to poetry. Some of his works were criticisms of people in power at the time. The way in which Dryden wrote became the standard during the Restoration (Restoration Literature). Other important writers of the time include John Milton, Samuel Butler Luloff 4 who wrote satires, and Edmund Waller who was considered a very important author of the time.
The people considered him to be just as important as John Dryden (Fletcher). The Restoration period was a very important part of English literature and language. It allowed the time for everything to revolutionize and give a fresh perspective to the readers then and now. This was a very important historical event also with the fall of a dictatorship- like government and the rebirth of the monarchy which still kind of stands today. The Restoration has made an incredible impact in both history and literature. If the Restoration had never taken place, it is hard to say what life and literature would be like today.
Works Cited Fletcher, Robert. “A History of English Literature. ” About. 8 May 2006. Main, C. F.. “The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century. ” Elements of Literature. Brinnen, John Malcolm. Austin: Holt, Rhinehart and Winston. Merritt, James. “English Literature. ” The World Book Encyclopedia. 1985. “Restoration, in English History. ” Bartleby. 6 May 2006 “Restoration Literature. ” Wikipedia. 8 May 2006. “The Restoration Period and the 18th Century. ” Encarta. CD-ROM. Microsoft. 2000. Wright, H. Bunker. “History of the English Language. ” Collier’s Encyclopedia. 1995.