As there were no papers or magazines in those days, people were attracted towards the theater for being amused and informed. Shakespeare, and his contemporaries, wrote chiefly with a purpose to please their audience. As a result, the form of drama was at the peak. But after Shakespeare, there was gradual decline in drama.
Reasons for the decline of drama after Shakespeare
1. Catered to the depraved tastes of the audience,
2. Lacked Shakespeare’s broad charity, his moral insight into life,
3. Neglected the simple fact that man in his deepest nature is a moral being and that only a drama or play can satisfy the whole nature of man by showing the triumph of the moral law.
Post-Shakespearean or Jacobean dramatists
Post-Shakespearean or Jacobean dramatists tried to follow the Elizabethan tradition. In their own way, they adopted the spirit of the renaissance but more or less, they followed Seneca. The theme of revenge, which was the part of the middle ages, was repeated again.
Though Shakespeare employed the theme of revenge, he gave it a dramatic. On the other hand, the Post-Shakespearean dramatists gave a political touch to the theme of revenge. Beaumont and Fletcher carried further the theme of revenge to the highest peak. They portrayed the dark side of human life. Webster showed blood and thunder in tragedies. Furthermore, in order to heighten the tragic elements, the Jacobean dramatists introduced super-natural agency.
It was Ben Jonson who was the exception to show the positive side of human nature. His ode, “Come Leave the Loathed Stage” finally revealed the truth that it was enough to show immoral and impure acts on the stage. As a result, in 1642, both houses of Parliament insisted on closing the theatres for prevailing lies and immorality.