Project Activity- The Age of Elizabeth


The age of Elizabeth is generally regarded the greatest in the history of our literature. Elizabethan literature is intensely romantic; the romance springs from the heart of youth, and believes all things, even the impossible. The great schoolman’s credo, ‘I believe because it is impossible,’ is a better expression of Elizabethan literature than of mediaeval theology.

Children of grade 8 were introduced to The Age of Elizabeth. They studied in brief about the historical events and social conditions in each period in general and The Age of Elizabeth in particular. The Elizabethan Era was marked by a strong national spirit, by patriotism, by religious tolerance, by social content, by intellectual progress, by religious tolerance, by social content, by intellectual progress, and by unbounded enthusiasm.
In the age of Elizabeth, we note that the tremendous impetus is received from the Renaissance, from the Reformation and from the Exploration of the New World.
Main topics of our study were noted-


1. What is literature? What is its importance?
2. Research on ‘The Rise of Drama in England’
3. The Distinguished Literary Artist – William Shakespeare
4. Classification of his plays- ‘The Merchant of Venice’ as an example
5. Growth of Trading by understanding the rhyme ‘Baa Baa black sheep…’
6. Explorations and Discoveries – The first circumnavigators
7. Written Compositions – The Art of Essay writing
8. Comparative Literature (Drama)
9. Glossary of Literary terms
10. Conclusion- Present learning in ISKCON

Research – First the deed, then the story, then the play – that seems to be the natural development of drama in its simplest form. This created interest in the students in theatre and wanted to gratify the awakened national spirit and get their first knowledge of national history. Students collected information, noted how each writer covered the whole field and almost every form and variety of the drama in all ages. Their enthusiasm was reflected in the paragraph writing activity conducted. The aim of this exposure developed interest in students and they traced the progress of Greek Theatre, Sanskrit Theatre, French Theatre, Irish Theatre, and Russian Theatre.

The Wonders of Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is considered the supreme literary artist of all times. He was a man deserving of remembrance and deserving of praise.

Two theories to account for Shakespeare:-
Genius or Training

1) All came from within – that his genius was his sufficient guide; and to the over mastering power of his genius alone we owe all his great works.

2) All came from without – he lived in a play loving age; he studied the crowds, gave them what they wanted, and simply reflected their own thoughts and feelings.

Such an age of thought, feeling, and vigorous action, finds best expression in drama; and the wonderful development of the drama, culminating in Shakespeare, is the most significant characteristic of the Elizabethan period.
The Merchant of Venice – a careful reading of this play leaves us the impression that it was a period of rapid growth and development which probably corresponds with the growth and experience of the poet’s life.
The Merchant of Venice – this play is an amalgamation of two main stories the Casket story and the Bond story. The theme of the story is the winning of an otherworld bride. The comedy of this period is perfect in its kind – unsurpassed for the marvellous harmony it established among so many apparently discordant elements.

The Mercantilist Era

The enormous advantage that England had over other countries as a feeder of sheep and as producer of best wool gave England the opportunity gradually to win the command of the world’s cloth market, as she had long commanded the European market for raw wool. For centuries wool weaving occupied men’s daily thoughts in town and village, literature and common speech acquired many phrases and metaphors borrowed from the manufacture of cloth -‘thread of discourse’, ‘spin a yarn’, ‘unravel a mystery’, ‘web of life’- while all unmarried women were put down as ‘spinsters’ Growth of Trading by Analysing the Rhyme- students of grade 5 focused on Growth of Trade and banking of this period by analysing the rhyme Baa Baa Black Sheep have you any wool?

Explorations and Discoveries – The Circumnavigators

Students were exposed to the first circumnavigator Ferdinand Magellan who discovered Philippines. This voyage proved most fruitful for science. It gave the first positive proof of the earth’s rotundity and the first true idea of the distribution of land and water.

Vasco da Gama, the discoverer of the sea route to East Indies which had been the principal market for trade in spices, precious stones and pearls.

Christopher Columbus reached America.

Essay Writing

What is an essay?
This was a very fascinating activity. As said by Dr. Samuel Johnson, an essay is ‘a loose sally of the mind; an irregular indigested piece’ Here our students recounted what a good essay is and analysed the structure of essay.
Students of Grade 5 wrote essays analysing the major characters of the play The Merchant of Venice.

Essay on Love representing –Portia
Essay on Ambition representing- Bassanio
Essay on Sleep and Jealousy – Shylock
Essay on Cleverness representing- Portia
Essay on Values representing- Nerissa
Social Awareness- (Skit/ Drama)- Present Learning In ISKCON
‘Sarve cha sukhina santu,
Sarve santu niramayaI
Sarve bhadrani pashyantu,
ma kaschiddukha bhag bhavet II
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti’

Skit ‘LEAD A GOOD LIFE’. A student of Grade 5 took part in the activities conducted by an organisation ISKCON and undertook activities in her neighbourhood to make the audience aware and consciously practice values like compassion and mercy towards people.

1) Recent articles published on Shakespeare in The New York Times (January)
2) College Composition by G.K.Chettur
3) English Literature by William. J. Long
4) Text books related to The Age of Elizabeth
5) The Merchant of Venice by Anand Nandawani
6) English Syntax by Paul Roberts

Rathna Sindhur with her ambitious aim inspires young minds about love of learning and helps them become free thinkers. Rathna currently teaches English from Class III-V at Edify School in Bengaluru. Prior to this she taught French at elementary level from 2009-2012 at VIBGYOR High. Rathna loves to be working with people from different trades and walks of life at varied levels. As an ISA coordinator at Edify School, she balances concerns of different groups in order to reach a common goal. Academically, Rathna is an MA in English from KSOU Mysore University; she holds Diploma in Teachers Training, Cambridge TTF and Level-A in French from Alliance Francaise.