The Emergence Of The Tragedian Essay Research

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The Emergence Of The Tragedian Essay, Research Paper The Emergence of the Tragedian By 1600, international trade routes, which had been centered around the Mediterranean Sea for centuries were almost entirely based around Northern Atlantic countries like Spain, France and England. The economic explosion, and widespread circulation of money that came with this was accompanied by the invention of the printing press. Because of the newfound ability to spread information that the printing press afforded, the period is marked by scientific advancement, a return to intellectual and artistic ideals, national pride, and a sense of individual empowerment never before seen. It was also at this time that the previously dubious profession of acting, or ?playing? moved slowly from the

ouskirts of societal acceptance to having a central cultural role in England. The actor attained a respect and place in society which he did not previously possess. This was marked by a shift in popular taste, critical attention, and financial compensation from the comedic rustic clowns to more dramatic tragedians. This is significant because it was at this time that England produced its most highly acclaimed dramatic works, the most basic foundations of skillful acting are established, and acting gains enough respect to remain an important art form in the centuries to come. Before the printing press, the widely-held concept of social structure was that of a fixed one. The individual existed in a chain of being which accounted for all God?s creatures and placed them in a

hierarchy that could not be altered. There was little upward mobility socially or financially for the individual Englishman and there was a strong aristocratic presence. With the printing press and the explosion of accessible knowledge that came with it, and the economic rebirth of England at this time, the individual was granted a new optimism. The printed word, as opposed to the spoken word, is individualistic in nature. The act of reading is an individualistic activity and requires the reader to posses those cognitive skills involved individually. Where power once rested in the hands of religious leaders and ruling parties, who disseminated information orally, it slowly shifted into the hands of those individuals who possessed the ability to read, empowering the individual.

The printed word also propelled a sense of the individual in that one?s name could be permanently fixed in print. Authorship became important for the first time in history, as ideas were ascribed fixedly to specific writers. Out of this atmosphere came the idea of the humanist man, who had the ability to change the world in his likeness, and change himself. This is important because enemies of acting, who also tended to be the enemies of the humanist man, held that the impersonation that actors took part in, wherein peasants had the opportunity to play kings and men to play women, broke with the idea of a chain of being. With the growing individualistic sentiment that came with widespread printing and knowledge, this argument held less water. Another argument that the

antitheatrical community of the mid to late 1500?s held was rooted in a more physical aspect of human design. It was commonly believed that the human body consisted of different humors or fluids which corresponded to specific human emotions. An imbalance in these fluids resulted in irregular emotional states. For example, if a person had an excess of the humor melancholy, they became filled with the corresponding emotion, or passion, which was grief. Actors, whose profession required them to alter their emotional states in order to play roles, were inevitably altering their physical makeup and therefore risking permanent loss of sanity. Not only did actors play with fire in manipulating these fluids, but the actor?s ability to affect the humors of spectators was frowned upon as