Much of the peculiarly practical tendency of the political and philosophical literature of our own time can be traced to its beginning in the Elizabethan era, when, as a result of the Reformation, education first found many devotees among English laymen, and prose literature, for the first time, was generally used for other than ecclesiastical purposes. The clergy had no longer the monopoly of that learning and of those acquirements which, during preceding centuries, had given them the monopoly of power. Laymen were wielding the pen. It must be admitted that the prose of that era makes but a poor figure when compared with the splendor of the Elizabethan poetry; and that it is, indeed, redeemed from almost utter insignificance by the few English writings of Francis Bacon, a man who gained his chief glories from works that were written in the Latin Language.
Formalist criticism of Elizabethan theatre has shown the impact of rhetorical technique in the theatrical repertoire. Altman studies the Ciceronian theory of arousing and expressing wonder and the way in which it influenced drama.
Elizabethan drama broke away from religious domination, which was the major focus of the medieval mystery play and morality play. Elizabethan drama often used poetical metre (rhythm) for its dialogue, especially the five-foot iambic pentameter (pairs of syllables: unstressed followed by stressed). Both Shakespeare and Marlowe often used controversial subjects for their drama, including the question of political power (in Marlowe's Tamberlaine the Great (two parts; 1587–88) and Shakespeare's Macbeth (1606), for example). Other, lesser playwrights wrote in a similar style to Shakespeare and Marlowe; The Spanish Tragedy (c. 1590) by Thomas Kyd is sometimes said to have been an influence upon Shakespeare's Hamlet (1601–02). As the Jacobean period commences, the content of the drama darkens appreciably, and the plays of dramatists such as John Webster are more overtly violent than those of the Elizabethan period, in which (although there are exceptions to this) violent action is often psychological and usually takes place offstage.
The history of the earlier Elizabethan prose, if we except the name of Hooker, in whom it culminates, is to a great extent the history of curiosities of literature - of tentative and imperfect efforts, scarcely resulting in any real vernacular style at all. It is, however, emphatically the Period of Origins of modern English prose, and as such cannot but be interesting.
This was the golden era of Elizabethan Classics. The Playwrights and Authors who lived during the Elizabethan era were truly groundbreaking. This was the Renaissance and the time of new ideas and new learning. Some of the greatest English literature of all time was written during this period. Many of the Elizabethan classics of literature including those of William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlow, Beaumont, Kyd and Fletcher are detailed on this page in a timeline format.
If you look at the former plays and literature prior to the Elizabethan era you will notice that they were heavily religiously influenced. In fact, almost all of them had something to do with morality or mystery. I personally think it was the uniqueness of stories like Macbeth in comparison to former works that made William Shakespeare as popular as he was and still is. While William Shakespeare does get a lot of appreciation in our schools today, and he is worthy of it as well, there were other writers and literature that the people did enjoy. People like Edmund Spenser were writing some very popular literature during this time.
Additionally, some of the most famous Elizabethan works of art are miniature paintings. Miniatures came from the tradition of illuminated manuscripts and from Renaissance portrait medals, a revived classical form. It is said that the foreign artist Hans Holbein, instructed Hilliard, one of the Queen's favorite artists, in the technique. Hilliard produced miniatures painted on vellum or ivory or card, and such miniatures often functioned like lockets or cameos. Intended for private viewing, portrait miniatures were often highly personal and intimate objects that often depicted lovers or mistresses. Many of the larger court portraits of Elizabeth were based upon Hilliard's miniatures and portraits.
In former eras you would have typically found plays and literature that was dominated by religious influence. William Shakespeare generally found his way away from that and often focused on highly controversial topics of the time. For example, he would often focus on the struggle for power during that time. People of the Elizabethan era loved it. The literature during Elizabethan times was not only loved and appreciated by the upper class. In fact, the lower class equally appreciated William Shakespeare's literature and drama plays. Both classes alike would pile their ways into amphitheaters just to see them.
Influenced by Italian sonnets, English writers of the period began introducing complicated poetic structures in both verse and prose. The sonnets and plays of William Shakespeare became exceptionally popular in England and eventually across Europe. Shakespeare's plays abounded in different forms such as comedies, satires, tragedies, and romances, and included "Romeo and Juliet," "Hamlet," "Macbeth," "Julius Caesar," and "A Midsummer Night's Dream." As a result, theater became a national pastime across social classes in England. In addition to Shakespeare, playwrights Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson flourished during this era. Marlowe was known for his magnificent blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his own untimely death. Jonson was a dramatist, poet and actor, best known for his plays "Volpone" and "The Alchemist," his lyrics, his influence on Jacobean and Caroline poets, his theory of humours, his contentious personality, and his friendship and rivalry with Shakespeare.
One of the most notable achievements in the Elizabethan Era was the literature. The main distinctiveness for this era’s literature was its variety in poetry, theater, and prose fiction aspects. The earliest theater ever built was plainly named “The Theater” which was established in 1576. Following “the theater” closely were theaters such as “the Rose”, “the Swan”, and most popular of all, “the Globe”, created in 1599. The Globe produced a huge interest to the Elizabethans about theatrical writing using the basic interlude and small plays like Nicholas Udall’s Ralph Roister Doister.