Medieval Ballad

  • The name comes from Old French balade (dancing song)
  • Its musical origin can be traced back to the same tradition as the folk-song
  • It is a form of popular narrative verse
  • It employs a direct language
  • It is transmitted orally ...

Geoffrey Chaucer & The Canterbury Tales

  • He was born in London (c.1343)
  • He had middle-class origins
  • He was a diplomat at Edward III’s Court
  • He was captured by the French in 1359
  • He went to the Flanders and to Italy
  • He was buried in Westminster Abbey (1400)

Shakespeare’s Sonnets

  • It is a fourteen-line poem which may be variously rhymed
  • It was introduced in England by a group of Court poets during the reign of Henry VIII
  • Petrarch was considered a model by sonnet writers
  • Love sonnets were collected in sonnet sequences
  • Astrophil and Stella (1591) started the vogue

Shakespeare’s Theatre

  • The most relevant cultural phenomenon of England Renaissance
  • It celebrated England and its monarchs
  • It was a popular entertainment, seen by any social class

Romeo and Juliet

  • Written around 1594-1595, first published in 1597
  • It is a lyrical tragedy
  • Its language and images are typical of Renaissance love poetry
  • It is the tragedy of youth
  • It can be divided into two parts


  • Shakespeare’s most famous play
  • The story was known through chronicles
  • It is very close to modern sensibility because of

1. Its hero’s doubts and indecisions

2. Lack of certainties

3. Inability to communicate


  • A tragedy of great visual and verbal power
  • Violence is the means of exploring the human mind’s dark recesses
  • There are no subplots > it is centred on a deadly play for power

The tempest

  • A romance, a complex story of love and adventure with a happy ending
  • No definite sources have been found, but a series of analogues:

a. narrative motifs common to romance and folklore

b. classical and mythological references

c. materials from contemporary and classical literature

d. accounts of travels in the New World

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