Joost van den Vondel stands as a major Dutch poet and dramatist. Vondel took the plots of his plays from biblical stories and classical models but also from events that happened in his lifetime. He wrote a play about Mary Queen of Scots, in which she was portrayed as heroine and martyr. As regards the format and style of his dramatic writing, he was much influenced by the Bible, and the classical writers, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristotle and Seneca. It is Christian thought, however, that is central.
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Joost van den Vondel stands as a major Dutch poet and dramatist. Vondel took the plots of his plays from biblical stories and classical models but also from events that happened in his lifetime.
He wrote a play about Mary Queen of Scots, in which she was portrayed as heroine and martyr. As regards the format and style of his dramatic writing, he was much influenced by the Bible, and the classical writers, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristotle and Seneca.
It is Christian thought, however, that is central. Lucifer is widely regarded as his masterpiece. Vondel is not well known outside the Low Countries: he wrote in Dutch and few of his works have been translated apart from into German. It appears that, at home, he is little performed or read, nowadays — perhaps because his themes are of less interest and his diction is old-fashioned; but he remains of interest to scholars.
Lucifer is a neo-classical drama, termed by Vondel a tragedy, in verse. Only two or three principal characters are on stage at any one time. In accordance with the title, Lucifer himself is the tragic hero. Lucifer is a hero characterised by pride, envy and ambition.
He does reveal some self-doubt in Act IV. The conflict in the play comes down to one between Good and Evil — God and the Devil. The reader has to consider whether either Satan or God, or both, is an autocratic ruler — and to what extent this is acceptable. The spelling of the Dutch quotations, here, reflects the practice of the late 19 th century — contemporary, indeed with the English translation of L C van Noppen, used here.
Apollion reports to his friends on his visit to the newly created Garden of Eden. He urges them to remain loyal. Now Lucifer joins his supporters. His speech culminates in the telling phrase:. Gabriel returns, with no comfort for Lucifer. He urges him to obey God and to comply with His will however inscrutable. When Gabriel has left, Lucifer influenced by Beelzebub remains defiant. He lets his supporters work out the details of the revolt. They decide to win over angels to the cause by appealing to their pride, encouraging contempt for the new creation, and saying that mankind should be kept in its place, on earth.
Rebellion is now afoot. He listens to what the rebels have to say but orders them to lay down their weapons. He goes to report to God; and he leads the loyalists away. As Michael leaves, Lucifer arrives and puts his case to his supporters. Gabriel and Michael discuss the outbreak of the war. God has weighed mercy against righteousness, and has decided in favour of self-defence.
So they arm themselves for battle. Meanwhile, Lucifer and his supporters have taken the offensive and are confident of victory. Raphael next appears. In a magnificent speech, he reminds Lucifer of all the favour God has shown him and the majesty in which He has clothed him: he should be content with his lot. Finally, he offers to act as a mediator with God — but only on condition that Lucifer lays down his arms. Lucifer has a moment of self-doubt and despair; and he feels that he has gone too far to turn back.
Informed that Michael is ready for combat, however, and urged on by his supporters, his hand is forced, on the side of rebellion. The details make one think of 17 th century warfare: compare Paradise Lost, V, , and VI, On the heels of success comes, however, disaster: Gabriel comes to report the Fall of Adam. Gabriel continues: Lucifer sent his ally Belial, in the form of a serpent, to tempt Adam and Eve; and the story elaborates the account given in Genesis, Chapter 3.
Michael orders Uriel to expel Adam and Eve from Eden and commands other angels to capture and bind the rebel angels, lock them in hell, and torment Lucifer. Christian doctrine is thus endorsed. And so the drama ends. Compare, however, some of the works of Marlowe and early Shakespeare. Conflict among human beings without the intervention of a deity or angels is the staple of the literature and drama we are familiar with.
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Joost van den Vondel
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He is considered the most prominent Dutch poet and playwright of the 17th century. His plays are the ones from that period that are still most frequently performed, and his epic Joannes de Boetgezant , on the life of John the Baptist , has been called the greatest Dutch epic. Vondel's theatrical works were regularly performed until the s. The most visible was the annual performance, on New Year's Day from to , of Gijsbrecht van Aemstel. Vondel remained productive until a very old age. His parents were Mennonites of Antwerpian descent.
Wanneer God de mens boven de engelen plaatst, begint de afgunstige stedehouder Lucifer een opstand. Na de tweede voorstelling op 5 februari verbood het stadsbestuur op aandringen van de kerkenraad verdere opvoeringen. Lucifer is opgedragen aan keizer Ferdinand III van het Heilige Roomse Rijk en geldt als 'een van de zeldzame produkten uit onze letterkunde, die een blijvende plaats in de wereldliteratuur bekleden. De figuur van Lucifer associeerde Vondel als jonge dichter al met het thema van de onrechtmatige opstand.
Religion was a sensitive subject in seventeenth-century theatre. In , Joost van den Vondel sent shockwaves through Amsterdam by locating a play in heaven. It was a daring venture, but Vondel strived for the highest level of playwriting. He wanted to write tragedies in Dutch that could measure up to the ancient Greek tragedies. It was characteristic of these plays that the protagonists had to command a high position so that their downfall would be all the more tragic.