Home  »  Volume V: English THE DRAMA TO 1642 Part One  »  § 16. Evolution of Tragedy and Comedy

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

I. The Origins of English Drama

§ 16. Evolution of Tragedy and Comedy

The following pages will, it is believed, sufficiently illustrate the consummation of this change, and describe the process by which, after the biblical religious drama had begun to die out in England, where saints’ plays had never enjoyed much popularity, the abstract figures of the moralities were associated with concrete personages of the national past, or types of actual contemporary life, and gradually gave way before them. The progress of the narrative will show how thus, with the aid of the transitional species of the chronicle history on the one hand, and of the interlude, in the narrower sense of the term, on the other, tragedy and comedy were found ready to be called into being, so soon as the light of classical example shone forth which had been lit by the enthusiasm of the renascence.