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Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson was probably the most important dramatist of his age, the Renaissance pediod, after Shakespeare. He was born in London in 1572. He studied at Westminster and became an eminent Elizabethan scholar. When he was twenty-five he served in the army and went to war in Flanders. Once back to London he became an actor and an independent writer. He became a great neoclassical poet and an important dramatist. He was the most famous author of the masque (a form of entertainment combining music, dancing and singing with rich and costly sceneries and costumes) and the creator of the first English satirical comedies. The comedies were the way through which Johnson tried to educate and entertain his audience at the same time. In fact, the satire was an educational method that made joke of the faults of men, making fun out of their vices and follies. His characters were symbols of human typical features and characteristics and the comic effect was generated by adding one accident happing to these characters after the other. The structure of his plays was classic and used a four-fold structure: prologue, introduction of the characters and situation (act 1), development of the story-line to the catastrophe (acts 2 to 4), complications and final catastrophe (act 5).

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