Author (Your Name)

Vashti Boddie, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Senior Scholars Paper (Open Access)


Colby College. English Dept.


Richard C. Harrier

Second Advisor

Alice Pattee Comparetti

Third Advisor

Harold B. Raymond


In the literary tradition of sixteenth-century England, a new mode of expression arose with the development of formal satire. The pattern branded off into two directions: that which followed the Piers Plowman tradition in the mid 1500's and that which followed the classical models of Horace and Juvenal in the last decade of the century. The latter phase led so inevitably to repercussions among literary and political circles that public authorities had to intervene to stop the flow of libelous satiric literature. Due to the controversial nature of the classical phase, it is this tradition which I shall concentrate on. The purpose of the study is to trace the change in subject matter and to compare and contrast the different techniques used by the satirists of the period. The chief figures in the study are Thomas Wyatt, the Earl of Surrey, Spenser, Joseph Hall, John Marston, John Donne, and Benjamin Jonson. Since what came to be called formal satire did not exist in England until after 1590, the term "satire" will be understood to mean in this project any work in prose or verse whose primary purpose is the delineation of an evil condition which should be corrected or punished. This evil condition may exist in the individual, in a social group, or in the society as a whole.


Satire, English, Early modern, 1500-1700, History and criticism, English literature -- Early modern, 1500-1700, History and criticism