E.M.W. Tillyard's Elizabethan World Picture: Analysis

1473 words - 6 pages

The Elizabethan World Picture begins focus on the Order of the Universe. Tillyard explains that God has created an order for everything. Cosmic order is a key characteristic in poetry and plays written in the Elizabethan time period. Tillyard claims that our order is affected by personal connections with each rank. Tillyard uses several examples of order in our lives one of those being, “the sun, and the king, primogeniture hang together”. Primogeniture is the right for the firstborn to inherit the family estates. This order is shown to be in conflict in Shakespeare’s play, Richard the Second. In Richard II the sun was the king, and he was to be respected as he divinely anointed by God for his role. We see an ignoring of this divine order when Henry Bolingbroke and the other nobles take it upon themselves to rebel and pressure the king into giving up his crown. Ironically, primogeniture is used to excuse treason in one case and then ignored to take Richard’s crown. When Bolingbroke arrived he claimed that he was only interested in taking back his God given right and at the end of the play we see Bolingbroke and the nobles ignoring Richard’s divine right to rule because he does not have the ability to rule. A lot of respect was given to cosmic order during Elizabethan times. It was believed that to be out of order, especially the cosmic order caused strife and chaos in the universe.
Sin was a present characteristic in not just moral dramas but also in Shakespeare plays. In almost every play that Shakespeare wrote during his career the audience could always learn something from the character’s story. In this chapter Tillyard focuses on the fall and redemption of man. Tillyard stated that the fall of man separated us from our true self, and the only way to regain our true self is through repentance and salvation. In a play written by Shakespeare, As You Like It, two characters Duke Frederick and Oliver were both guilty of the sin of envy, hate, and desire to kill there own brother. This is paralleled with the biblical story Joseph, and his brothers who were envious of their father’s love for Joseph. They wanted to kill Joseph but then later changed their minds and sold him into slave, later on in life when Joseph and his twelve brothers meet again in Egypt and they confess to Joseph unknowingly that they were very repentant for what they had done. Duke Frederick usurped his brother’s rightful position and then later on wanted to kill him. Oliver mistreated his brother Orlando after their father’s death because he was jealous of Orlando’s social graces and plotted to kill him. However, by the end of the play they had a change of heart and were ashamed of their actions. This is the redemption of man, Duke Frederick joined a religious order to live out the rest of this life and Oliver begged for his brother’s forgiveness for all that all of the crimes he had committed against him. Stories of redemption were just as popular as the sermons that preached...

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