A History of British Irish and American Literature by Hans-Peter Wagner

By Hans-Peter Wagner

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Based on an Italian romance by Bandello that was often translated into English, Romeo and Juliet was probably written around 1595. It focuses on the bitter enmity between the two chief families of Verona, the Montagues and the Capulets. Romeo, the son of old Lord Montague, falls in love with Juliet, and she with him, when he attends in disguise a feast given by Juliet's father, Lord Capulet. Romeo wins Juliet's consent to a secret marriage, and they are wedded the next day by Friar Laurence. Complications ensue when Romeo's friend, Mercutio, quarrels with Tybalt, of the Capulet family, and Romeo, coming on the scene, kills Tybalt.

Part II of the book relates the journey of Christana – his wife – and their children to the same celestial destination. Despite its Puritan and biblical allegory and overt didactic-religious tendencies, The Pilgrim's Progress is remarkable for the beauty and simplicity of its language. Bunyan possessed great narrative skill and his book has been translated into over one hundred languages. Bunyan's spiritual autobiography and the realistic description of low life by Nashe, Greene, and Deloney were soon united by another dissenter, Daniel Defoe (1660-1731), a contemporary of Bunyan and one of the fathers of the English novel.

The central figure of the play is Horner, an ironic libertine who pretends to be impotent in order to seduce his victims the more easily. " The theme of cuckoldry is thus dominant in this play, as in many other Restoration comedies. Wycherley's satire is founded on his cynical mockery of human puppets pursuing illusory pleasures. The following decade saw some plays by Thomas Shadwell (1640-92), who rejected the principles and conventions of the Restoration comedy and tended more to Jonson's comedy of humours.

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