Of the various forms which this drama took, the first to reach a culmination was the so-called Chronicle History. This is represented in The Harvard Classics by the “Edward II”〖Harvard Classics, xlvi, 7ff. For “Doctor Faustus” see Professor Francke’s article below.〗 of Marlowe, the greatest of the predecessors of Shakespeare; and Shakespeare himself produced some ten plays belonging to the type. These dramas reflect the interest the Elizabethans took in the heroic past of their country, and before the vogue of this kind of play passed nearly the whole of English history for the previous three hundred years had been presented on the stage. As a form of dramatic art the Chronicle History had many defects and limitations. The facts of history do not always lend themselves to effective theatrical representation, and in the attempt to combine history and drama both frequently suffered. But surprisingly often the playwrights found opportunity for such studies of character as that of the King in Marlowe’s tragedy, for real dramatic structure as in Shakespeare’s “Richard III,” or for the display of gorgeous rhetoric and national exultation as in “Henry V.” These plays should not be judged by comparison with the realism of the modern drama. The authors sought to give the actors fine lines to deliver, without seeking to imitate the manner of actual conversation; and if the story was conveyed interestingly and absorbingly, no further illusion was sought. If this implied some loss, it also made possible much splendid poetry.

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