View Full Version : Help me: correctors needed!

March 3rd, 2009, 06:48 AM
I'm re-writing my thesis and compared to last year, I started a bit sooner with writing everything down. I still write about the same topic, so I want (and am allowed to) to re-use several chapters. But... My English was horrible, the three professors agreed. Which hurts, of course... I won't make that mistake twice, so I am humbly asking for advice and corrections. If you have a nice book or documentation about this subject, you're always welcome. Please avoid quotations without sources, for they would be useless to me...
In advance, thank you all!


Elizabethan and Jacobean drama

Theatre was extremely popular in the Early Modern Period. Not only the play itself was higly appreciated, also the printed text, once the play was published. Some ‘plays’ were even meant to be read only, as was The Tragedy of Mariam. Women were allowed to go to plays, without chaperone. An amazing freedom in those days. But when it came to acting, no freedom was allowed. Women were not supposed to perform for a large audience. Female role were always played by men. Younger men, if possible, so the voice would sound a little bit softer than the voice an adult man. Theatre was big business in this era. Companies only employed the best actors. We now know that Shakespeare was a good actor too, next to his career as a playwright. If possible, and with the necessary resources, each company had its own playhouse. The most famous, of course, is The Globe. The original building burned down in 1613, during a Shakespeare play. Nowadays we can see a new theatre on the banks of the river, built by the Shakespeare Globe Trust. Not only the building was important. Also the props were carefully made and treasured, to be re-used over the years. Costumes were extremely important, as the clothing could set the play in one glimpse.
But, the most important of all was the actual shape of the building itself. Only one sketch is known to us, showing The Swan, another Elizabethan playhouse in those days. The playhouse is built in a circular shape, around the stage. A part of the audience, most of them quite wealthy, could take a seat on the benches, built around the stage, in three or more storeys. They were able to look down upon the stage. The other part, with little money, stood in the very centre of the playhouse, under the open sky. They had to look up to the actors, but stood much closer by. Both actors and the audience benefited of this curious shape. Actors could make themselves clear, without raising their voice. The audience, in return, on whatever spot, could hear and see the play without stretching their necks. On top of that, because of the way the seats were arranged, the playhouse was accessible to all people, poor or rich. They had their own spot.
The platform itself was ingeniously built. Like the storeys around the building, the platform consisted of two levels. The main stage, were the actors performed most of the play and a balcony. “[The] balcony above and behind the platform permitted action on a second level” (J.L. Styan 44). The world famous example of the use of this balcony can be found in The Most Excellent And Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo And Juliet, wherein Juliet utters the most cited words ever.

O Romeo, Romeo,
Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name,
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

Ingeniously built trapdoors made it possible for actors to disappear and re-appear, by surprise. The audience in the mean time encouraged their favourite characters and scorned the ones they really disliked.
The language within the different plays back then is difficult to summarize. There are certain similarities, one may even say ‘rules’, in the plays. But it is important to emphasize that every writer had its own preference and style of writing. One interesting ‘rule’ can be found in Shakespeare’s plays. “In Elizabethan drama, verse may conventionally lend distinction to a leading character, where a lesser character is diminished by prose” (16). Several examples can be found. This one is taken from ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore, by John Ford. The putana tells Giovanni that his sister is “with child” (103).

With child? How dost thou know’t?
How do I know’t? Am I at these years ignorant what the meanings of qualms and water-pangs be, of changing of colours, queasiness of stomachs, pukings, and another thing that I could name? Do not, for her and your credit’s sake, spend the time in asking how and which way ‘tis so; she is quick, upon my word. If you let a physician see her water you’re undone. (103)

Another example can be read in Macbeth, by William Shakespeare. In this scene, almost at the end of the play, the doctor and a gentlewoman are discussing Lady Macbeth’s condition. There is no verse in their conversation.

DOCTOR I have two nights watched with you, but can perceive no truth in your report. When was it she last walked?
GENTLEWOMAN Since his majesty went into the field I have seen her rise from her bed, throw her nightgown upon her, unlock her closet, take forth paper, fold it, write upon’t, read it, afterwards seal it, and again return to bed, yet all this while in a most fast sleep.
DOCTOR A great perturbation in nature, to receive at once the benefit of sleep and do the effects of watching. In this slumbery agitation besides her walking and other actual performances, what at any time have you heard her say? (2608)

Theatre in the Elizabethan days was different. The Elizabethan drama was a “Five-act Play” (Styan 68). “In England it was adopted by Ben Jonson” (68). We know that Shakespeare never used this pattern for his plays, not consciously anyway. But it is possible to re-arrange the plays slightly, so that they do fit the pattern. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar is a fine example for this Elizabethan drama pattern.
“One of the distinctions of the Elizabethan and Jacobean drama was the opportunity granted by its open stagecraft for playwrights to weave two or more stories together within a single play” (72). And this was the ‘birth’ of the tragicomedy genre. In this play, a tragedy and a comedy are mixed together. A play for laughter and tears. I mentioned one of these plays before. ‘Tis A Pity She’s A Whore is a tragicomedy by example. Annabella is the main character in the tragic part of the play. Her brother makes her pregnant and eventually, she is killed. The comedy evolves around Bergetto, who is trying to seduce a whore, but she robs him. Shakespeare wrote some tragicomedies too. He even threw another genre in the mix, the history play. This is what makes his plays unique.
The tragedy was the main genre in the Elizabethan and Jacobean area. Of course, these tragedies differ from the original tragedies, written in Ancient Greece. But the tragedies of the sixteenth and seventeenth century excel in human portraits. And maybe it is just that what made the plays so popular. “[T]ragic drama assumed an even more human aspect, and it is critically astonishing that the most weighty and intense tragedies of Shakespeare are sufficiently modern in feeling and natural in style to enable them to continue to be sympathetically received by today’s audiences everywhere” (80). Until this day, tragedies make people think. And eventually realise their personal lives are not that bad.
A last note upon theatre in the Early Modern Period. There is indeed a difference between the Elizabethan en Jacobean drama, more specifically in the comedy genre. In the Elizabethan times, there was a mixed comedy. A mixture of low comedy, “based on the humor and slapstick of chiefly physical situations” (89) and high comedy “associated with the verbal wit and satire of more social situations” (89).
The comedy in the Jacobean period was slightly different. It was called ‘the comedy of humours’. The humour system was commonly accepted in those days. In every body circulated four kinds of fluid: Phlegm, (yellow) Bile, Blood and Black bile. These four fluids had to be perfectly balanced. A change within could make people sick. Every disease was caused by a certain problem in the humour system. If one fluid ruled over the other three, this person was named after the presiding fluid. Even today, these names are still used. One could be a Choleric, a Melancholic, a Sanguine or a Phlegmatic. These four characters are used in the comedy of humours. Each with his own characteristics and problems, always enlarged with a lot of humour.

March 4th, 2009, 05:24 PM

March 5th, 2009, 12:28 AM
I can help proofread for grammar and spelling, if you'd like. I won't be much help with the topic, as my knowledge of theatre is very limited.

March 5th, 2009, 02:00 AM
First of all, don't be discouraged at all! I think your English skills are quite good. I sure wish I could write like that with French! If you need further help with proof reading you can pm me.

March 5th, 2009, 04:02 AM
I don't have a lot of free time and I've never studied the history of the theatre, although I like going to the theatre, especially if it's shakespeare, but I will offer my limited services if you like?

What if you PM me sections to work on for grammar and spelling, at least that would improve the way your work reads if not necessarilly the content!

March 5th, 2009, 06:03 AM
I would like to thank you all! I cannot tell you how encouraging this is.

Well, I'm not really looking for a deep knowledge of Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre. I have a nice library at uni, though I don't use it that often ;). If you see a sudden flaw in my work, a stupid misunderstanding about theatre or a history fact, you're welcome to help me out.
I'm actually looking for grammar corrections. English isn't my mother tongue, and though I try hard to improve, it's still a struggle sometimes. To be honest... They did not let me pass the thesis last year because my English/grammar/word order was that horrible. I won't make that same mistake twice, ya know...

I want to thank you all, over and over again... I'll post more chapters over the months to come, and when you have a minute or two to spare, scan through it and just let me know what you think and what is utterly wrong. I'm asking for feedback here, so I'm already prepared for hard remarks. That's okay, I need it. I'm not asking anyone to dwell hours on this. Just give me hand, now and then, and I'll manage.

May 19th, 2009, 04:48 AM
More help needed!! Thanks so far to all those who have helped me out and gave me some encouraging karma. I'll post more and more often here, as my thesis is due on Monday. I'm freaking out... Well, not yet, which isn't so good. Anyway, I want to ask everyone who feels like it, to give me a hand (again). Just read this through...
What to look for:
- General spelling errors and strange sentences
- Am I speaking the truth?
- Am I using the correct word in the correct context? (Very hard sometimes)
- Got some extra information?



2.1.1 Daemonologie

Daemonologie was not King James’ first book, but it is by far his most important work. It was printed in one bundle, but the book is divided into three books. There is a preface, a word to the reader, and at the end James gives the reader news about Scotland, with the story of Geillis Duncan. The book was written shortly after the witch trials in North Berwick. King James himself played a major role in the conviction of all the men and women involved.
The book is divided into three books, all written in the form of an intense dialogue between Philomates and Epistemon. The dialogue does not evolve around a master-student relationship. The two men are equal and discuss several topics about witchcraft, magic and fairies while they take turns to share their knowledge. And while Philomates and Epistemon enlighten the readers, it is King James who is displaying his knowledge of, for example, the Bible, but also early modern science. Chapter after chapter, King James guides the reader through certain abstract aspects of Protestantism and superstition. The king, hidden behind the two male characters, tries to inform and enlighten the reader, so that he may recognise evil doings and tell good from evil.
The first book tells the reader what kind of sins there are, and what the sins of witches really. Epistemon explains that a sin against the Holy Ghost is twofold: “God forbid, for the sin against the holie Ghost hath two branches: The one a falling backe from the whole service of GOD, and a refusall of all his preceptes. The other is the doing of the first with knowledge, knowing that they doe wrong against their own conscience, and the testimonie of (M10) the holie Spirit, having once had a tast of the sweetnes of Gods mercies.” Witches, according to the book, belong to that first category of sinners, but they are to be separated from “magie or necromancie” as witches are the servants and the slaves of the devil. In the three books, James repeatedly goes back to known facts and the new discoveries of science, hysteria being one of those. He does not represent the ideas as new, but just tries to explain the knowledge further and makes it comprehensible for ordinary people who are not familiar with science. These ordinary people do know magic and have their own tricks against witches. But James, and thus science, makes a division between simple folk/witch magic and the more delicate forms of magic, like “necromancie”. The use of the dialogue between two scholars might have been used on purpose, to make the book more accessible. Close to the end of book one, King James tells the reader that that what witches do is unlawful and therefore witches should be punished. Epistemon recognises and acknowledges the difference between bewitching someone wilfully, or the innocent folk magic, practised by the farmers and housewives. Witches, compared to ‘normal’ people, conjure Satan, their master and their tricks are pointed to someone in particular. The more innocent magic is meant as a form of protection and will not harm any other being. A fascinating passage in the first book is the discussion about Roman Catholicism. “And this farre onelie I touch, that when the conjured Spirit appeares, which will not be while after manie circumstances, long praiers, and much muttring and murmuring of the conjurers; like a _Papist_ priest, dispatching a hunting _Masse_: how sone I say, he appeares, if they haue missed one iote of all their rites; or if any of their feete once slyd ouer the circle through terror of his feareful apparition, he payes himselfe at that time in his owne hande, of that due debt which they ought him; and other-wise would haue delayed longer to haue payed him: I meane hee carries them with him bodie and soule.” A Roman Catholic mass in those days was celebrated in Latin. This was something the Protestants disliked. Their services were in the mother tongue of the country and believers were encouraged to read the Bible themselves to interpret the texts. The Protestants, and King James, looked at the Roman Catholic services with a weary and objected against the idea of using Latin. Witches were said to do the same. They would use Latin, often in a corrupted form and their sabbats would mirror the Catholic service. This short extract shows very clearly what a dangerous balance there was between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.
Book two leads the reader deeper into the differences of the magical practices mentioned before: “_The description of Sorcerie and Witchcraft in speciall._” The first chapter immediately opens with a discussion of the Bible. This is also typical for a Protestant writing. While Roman Catholics professed their faith in Latin, Protestants had services in the native language and a translated Bible (hence the King James Bible, a translation ordered by the King himself). Thus Protestants were able to understand and discuss every aspect of the Scripture, like Philomates and Epistemon do, every time a new chapter starts. This is probably the reason why Mother Sawyer in The Witch of Edmonton uses faux Latin, to make her curses sound more serious. More about this in the chapter about the play. They discuss the witches further and what they do, for example, dividing that what witches do into two categories: actions towards themselves and actions towards others. As we will see later on, this can be applied to Mother Sawyer, in The Witch of Edmonton, who tries to make her own life better, but who also acts against her neighbours. Fascinating in the text is the description of the devil, as perfect opposite of God. The devil will thus imitate God, and make the witches more powerful.
Philomates is a wise man. He clearly states that it is important not to adopt something indiscriminately. “The reasons that moues me to thinke that these are meere illusiones, ar these.” And so Philomates tells the reader his reasons. His words are important, as they show the contemporary reader that scientists had thought the witch craze through. Not all magic was wrong and not every person with magical knowledge convicted as a witch. The illusions Philomates talks about are the ways of transportation a witch had disposal of. Writer and character look for an appropriate explanation for something that is impossible.
The book discusses this topic further and searches for a reason why women are so vulnerable to the devil and who, in return is vulnerable to the witches. Right before the beginning of Book three, an interesting argument is given: “Those that denies the power of the Deuill, denies the power of God, and are guiltie of the errour of the Sadduces._” According to Daemonologie and Christianity God and the devil have to exist together, because they balance each other. Epistemon explains this: “Doubtleslie who denyeth the power of the Deuill, woulde likewise denie the power of God, if they could for shame. For since the Deuill is the verie contrarie opposite to God, there can be no better way to know God, then by the contrarie; as by the ones power (though a creature) to admire the power of the great Creator: by the falshood of the one to considder the trueth of the other, by the injustice of the one, to considder the Iustice of the other: And by the cruelty of the one, to considder the mercifulnesse of the other: And so foorth in all the rest of the essence of God, and qualities of the Deuill.” This is not particularly related to the witch hunt, but it clearly shows how people in the Early Modern Society believed in the devil, as the counterpart of God. The three books are dedicated to an explanation of magic and witches, but give the reader an uneasy feeling to, as if the devil can appear any minute. It is interesting to see how King James fuses religion, as in the existence of the devil, with scientific learnings, as in the explanation of how witches transport themselves to other places.
In book three Philomates and Epistemon tell the reader more about the spirits that live among us. The familiar of the witch was said to be a spirit, so this last part of Daemonologie is also devoted to the identification of the witch. The argument that opens the first chapter explains that there are four kinds of spirits. This division is not new and the names of the different groups sound familiar, for example “Phairie” and the “Incubi and Succubi”. In the description of these four groups and what the powers are the two wise men regularly bring charges against “Papistrie” (Roman Catholicism). Protestants, for example, no longer believed in visions of angels and saints, because that was impossible after the life of Christ: “Was it not euill inough to deceiue simple ignorantes, in making them to take him for an Angell of light, and so to account of Gods enemie, as of their particular friend: where by the contrarie, all we that are Christians, ought assuredly to know that since the coming of Christ in the flesh, and establishing of his Church by the Apostles, all miracles, visions, prophecies, & appearances of Angels or good spirites are ceased.” So Roman Catholics are deceived by the devil to believe that what they see is actually a sign of God. This clearly shows how averted Protestants were of Roman Catholicism and why the devil in The Witch of Edmonton speaks Latin, as he covers all that Protestantism despised in Roman Catholicism. Like, for example, the exorcism. On some of the last pages of the book, before the King comes to his conclusion, Philomates and Epistemon discuss the trial and the punishment of witches. It is interesting to read that they believed fire was the only appropriate death for witches, yet England hanged them. Epistemon does recognise that there are differences between countries. They both agree that, according to God’s law, every witch must die.
“PHILOMATHES. Then to make an ende of our conference, since I see it drawes late, what forme of punishment thinke ye merites these _Magicians_ and Witches? For I see that ye account them to be all alike guiltie?
EPI. They ought to be put to death according to the Law of God, the ciuill and imperial law, and municipall law of all Christian nations.”
Further on the two men warn the judges who will condemn the witches. Although earlier it was mentioned that all witches and magicians had to die, Epistemon warns us that no innocent person should be sentenced to death: “EPI. Iudges ought indeede to beware whome they condemne: For it is as great a crime (M33) (as SALOMON sayeth,) _To condemne the innocent, as to let the guiltie escape free_; neither ought the report of any one infamous person, be admitted for a sufficient proofe, which can stand of no law.” It is a kind of double standard the Early Modern Society used. No witch should be kept alive, and neither should any woman be converted to witchcraft, but at the same time it was out of the question that an innocent person should be hanged. To avoid this, scientists and researchers came up with several characteristics of ‘the’ witch, so everyone would be able to recognise her. They believed that every witch who had confessed and who was recognised as witch, was guilty and therefore should be hanged. It is cruel to realise that all those women and men were innocent.
The book ends with another word for the reader, followed by “Discourse”. This last part is the re-telling of the witch craze in Scotland, North Berwick. In this trial the differences between England and Scotland are very clear, as, for example, men were being convicted too, and one of the woman, Geillis Duncan was tortured. One of the witches, Agnes Tompson further stimulated James’ fear of witches, as she was able to repeat everything James and his bride had said in their wedding night. This witch trial was the immediate cause to write Daemonologie.