Context for A2 English - Love Through the Ages

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Medieval Period

Years: 1000s - 1400s

Types of love:

  • Courtly love: emphasis on nobility and chivarly
  • Religious love: emphasis on God and religion

Types of Literature:

  • Unstructured miracle plays: see and hear the literature
  • Moral tales: Church wanted to instruct people in what is right and wrong

Audience:

  • Illiterate masses: literature had to be simple and entertaining
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The Renaissance era

Years: 1485 - 1660

Elizabethan: reign of Elizabeth I, 1586 - 1603

Jacobean: reign of James I, 1603 - 1625

Types of love:

  • Courtly love
  • Timeless love
  • Sexual love

Types of literature:

  • Metaphysical: emphasis on life as a metaphor
  • Shakespeare!

Audience:

  • tension between upper-class and commoners, commoners were allowed in some theatres (such as the one-penny audiences at the globe)
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Neoclassical Period

Years: 1660 - 1798 

The reign of Charles II after his restoration to the throne in 1630

Types of love:

  • Crude sexual love (e.g. John Wilmot)
  • Unrequited love
  • Eternal love
  • Love is a contract

Types of literature: 

  • Introduction of prose (e.g. Moll Flanders and Daniel Defoe)
  • Satire
  • Poetry 

Audience:

  • Wanted excitement 
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The Romantic Period

Years: 1798 - 1832

Types of love:

  • Idealistic love: women wanted perfection in a man
  • Perfection in love

Types of literature:

  • Lyrical ballads
  • Long prose, women starting to become writers 
  • Introduction of gothic aspects to literature

Audience:

  • Becoming literate, able to read
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The Victorian Period

1837 - 1901

Years of Queen Victoria's reign

Types of love:

  • Reductive love: the thought of speaking about sex was repressed, and women were not allowed to speak out (e.g. the Bronte sisters publishing under unisex names)
  • Repressed love
  • Love is a contract just for marriage and wealth

Types of literature: 

  • Onset of industrialisation meant that novels became popular as they could be produced by the masses
  • Bildungsroman: following a character from when they were young to older life (e.g. Pip in Great Expectations)
  • Serialised novels (e.g. Thomas Hardy)

Audience:

  • Literature began to reach the masses as the became more literate 
  • Conflict between those in power and the poor
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Modernism

Dates: from 1900

Types of love: 

  • Free love
  • Crude love 
  • Loss of love

Types of literature:

  • War poetry: exposure to mass death and loss of faith 

Audience:

  • Breakdown of social norms 
  • Rejection of society
  • Lonliness: reading poetry and novels common
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Post-Modernism

Years: 1945 - present

Types of love:

  • Free love
  • Sexual love 

Types of literature:

  • Free verse 
  • No need to find answers: ambiguous endings to literature

Audience: 

  • Introduction of drugs being widely used allowed for 'free love'
  • Women became more independent: onset of feminism 
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