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The sonnet in English literature is a foreign importation. It originated in Italy during the 13th century. Petrarch and Dante were the pioneer leaders in this direction. The sonnet as a literary form appeared in England as one of the distinct effects of the Renaissance under Wyatts literary initiative. 

Sir Thomas Wyatt who was the innovator of the English sonnet is found to follow by many of his imitators. Wyatt’s great service to English poetry is the introduction of the sonnet with its chastening and strengthening influence on English metre and diction. In Wyatt as in Petrarch is seen a convention of personal emotion. 

Wyatt was successfully followed by his contemporary and follower Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey. His attempt is not to imitate Petrarch blindly. There is the variation in the rhyme-scheme to suit the purpose of English poetry in his sonnets. The new form, introduced by Surrey, comprises three quatrains with a closing couplet, Wyatt and Surrey however, have followed the Italian theme of love, with its passion and pang. Their sonnets were published in Tottle 's Miscellany in 1557. 

The next remarkable name among the English sonneteers is Sir Philip Sidney. His Astrophel and Stella contains a series of 108 sonnets about his own frustrated love for Penelope, the daughter of the Earl of Essex. 

Edmund Spenser was another great sonneteer of the Elizabethan age. His Amoretti, a series of 88 sonnets, are addressed to his lady love (Elizabeth Boyle) who became his wife and contain some autobiographical matters. He also created the Spenserian stanza. early national history of the British people. The theme of the play is quite serious-the division of a kingdom, the civil war and the awful consequence of the split of authority in a state. 

The form of Gorboduc is of the regular tragedy with five acts. The play has also an alternative title Ferrex or Porrex after the names of two principal figures of the play. Gorboduc is an English king who abdicates in favour of his two sons, Ferrex and Porrex. This leads to the bloody confrontation between two brothers. The younger brother kills the elder. There follow the events of bloodshed and revenge. The queen avenges the murder of her beloved son Ferrex by killing Porrex. The indignant people rise in rebellion and murder both the old king and the queen. 

The civil war and the acts of bloody murder cover the plot that ends in a characteristic Senecan mode. Nonetheless, Gorboduc is not a successful tragedy, though Sir Philip Sidney has admitted it as a great play. There is the lack of dramatic action on the stage. The speeches are long and heavy and composed in no felicitous blank verse. The play is rather melodramatic in effect. Yet, Gorboduc has a great influence on the English tragedy. Moreover, the use of blank verse in Gorboduc is found to have marked a new phase of growth in the English dramatic expressions. 


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