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The puritan Age

by alwaysbecheerful_admin

The period from 1603 to 1660 is labelled as the puritan Age of English literature. The age gets its name from the puritan standard that prevailed in England at that time. A Puritan is one who follows puritan principles and particularly regards pleasure or lavish lifestyle as sinful.The epithet ‘ puritan’ was assigned to the followers of puritanism by their opponents ; they were sometimes also referred to as precisionists.

Puritanism was the doctrine or school of English protestant which strictly advocated religious discipline and favoured simplification of the Church ceremonies. In other words,it aimed at purification of the religious practice . The seeds of puritanism can be traced back to the English Reformation.It is noteworthy that all the great literary figures of this age were followers of the doctrine of puritanism; therefore historically it was an age of conflicts as well as moral and political revolution . The theatres were banned and closed down in 1642 on the pretext that drama was impious and sinful.

The puritans waged a war for righteousness and liberty for people; they took a revolutionary step and removed the corrupt monarchy by beheading Charles I. Commonwealth was established under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell which shortly ended with the restoration of Stuart monarchy in 1660 with the coronation of Charles II. The puritan age overlaps the Elizabethan age on one side and the Restoration age on the other side and therefore the literature of this age reflects the tendencies of both the ages.

This age is enriched with many prominent literary figures. There are three majors schools of poetry. The Spenserians drawing inspiration from Spenser , such poet include Giles Fletcher,Browne and Wither ; the Cavalier poets following footsteps of Ben Jonson, such poets include Herrick,Carew, Suckling,Lovelace and Marvell ; and the Metaphysical poets including Donne,Herbert, Crashaw, Vaughan and Traherne. Apart from these ,John Milton,was a great religious poet and the towering literary figure of this age , who produced the first great epic in English – Paradise Lost (1667).His other important works include L’Allergo (1634),I1 Penseroso (1634), Comus (1634),Lycidas (1637), paradise Regained (1671) and Samson Agonistes (1671).

In this age , regular or pindaric odes were introduced into English by Ben Jonson. Milton popularised the Miltonic sonnets with the rhyme scheme abab,cdcd,efg, efg. The prose of this age is highly ornate and decorative,modelled after the Elizabethans and the charming essays of Cowely written in exceptionally simple and lucid style leave a lasting impression on readers .

1630 Great Migration of Puritans to New England Slavery exists in all English Colonies in North America Smallpox epidemic hits Boston Great Awakening.

This was an age which produced prose classics like The Authorised Version of the Bible_a collaborative work of fifty writers ,Browne’s Religio Medici , Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy and Walton’s Compleat Angler.

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