Date of Award

Spring 1933

Document Type



Languages & Literature


The Elizabethan drama as characterized by Shakespeare amid his contemporaries was the culmination of several forces which had long been exerting their influence on the English playwrights. Prominent among these forces was that of the classical drama, whose tendencies affected both comedy and tragedy. It was from the tragedies of Seneca that the Elizabethans developed their tragedies of sheer horror and blood. The comedies of Plautus and Terrance taught English dramatists "how to build a plot along structural lines of a five act pattern and how to develop a complicated intrigue based on the motif of mistaken identity; it supplied them with new types of comic characters and it brought home to them the difference between crude slap-stick comedy and the more intellectual species of wit.’’ 1 This influence is clearly shown in the following native English plays: Ralph Roister Boister (1534- 1541), Gammer Gurton's Needle (1575), and The Supposes (1566).