Literary Trends During Puritan and Restoration Period


Hello all! How are you doing? I hope you all are doing well in your academics. Today this blog is going to be bliss for those who are from the Literature field. In this blog, I am going to discuss Literary Trends of Puritan and Restoration Period. Puritan age started form 1620 and lasted till 1660. There were many upheavals during that period. King James I was the ruler at that time. 1660 marks the beginning of the Restoration Period. King Charles II came to the throne and monarchy was restored in England. The restoration period brought many changes in the political and social scenario. Catholics were dominated by Anglicans. The establishment of two political parties in England i.e. Tories and the Whigs also took place in the restoration period.

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Let’s see what you are going to read in this blog

  • Puritan Age – 1620 to 1660
  • Literary trends of puritan age
  • The Restoration Period -1660 to 1785
  • Religion and Politics during the restoration period
  • English literature during the restoration period
  • Main literary figures of the restoration period

Puritan Age – 1620 to 1660

The first half time period of the 17th century is considered as Puritan age. During this period Puritanism was dominating force. This time period is also famous with the name, Age of Milton. He was the greatest poet during this period. King James I was ruling during the Puritan period. Puritan age is considered as the renaissance of the moral sense of the man. The main aim of the Puritan age was:

  • To facilitate religious freedom.
  • Full civil liberty

Puritans want the purity of life. During this period, church and court were highly criticized and this lead to the civil war and Charles I was beheaded.

Literary trends of puritan age


Writing style

Puritan writing style was plain. Writers used simple sentences and not ornamented language. There was less usage of Metaphors and simile in the literary works.

Use of symbols was popular during that time. It creates a strong impact on the audience. Symbols help in delivering the truth about God in an easy manner. Religious poems have a role in this period. They are considered important. John Donne was one of the most famous religious poets of this age.

Puritans believed that fictional elements in the work of art should be limited. They perceive literary work as a religious practice rather than any piece of entertainment. The literary work of Puritans was all about spirituality. They talk about pilgrims and journey. They tried to motivate society by creating the allusion of an ideal state.

Realism in the poetry

Earlier forms of love poetry were Petrarchan. One can see the platonic form of love in earlier forms of poetry but Puritan love poetry was based on realism. Women were not seen as a Goddess but a human with flesh and blood. 

A touch of epic elements

Milton was the one who brought the essence of epic in this age. His paradise lost books were the famous epics of that time period. Spenser’s Fairy Queene was a romantic epic. These epics were way too much different than the classical epics of Homer and Virgil.

The emergence of Metaphysical School

Meta means beyond and Physical means physical reality. Poems in this genre concerned with the nature of the thing rather than physicality.

The trend of sonnets

Poets largely used sonnets during Puritan age. Sonnets were popular because it was largely written during Elizabethan age.  

The Restoration Period -1660 to 1785

The restoration period began when King Charles II came to the English throne. It started in the year 1660 and lasted till 1785.  The period is known as restoration because monarchy was restored in England.  During the restoration period English, Irish and Scottish monarchy was restored. This period denotes the event of restoration of the monarchy and new political establishment. During the reign of King Charles II there was an increase in commercial and global trade for Britain. Education was also expanded during this period, middle classes and lower classes were also included for education.

Religion and Politics during the restoration period

  • The restoration period brought good news for English theatre. Theatres were closed during Cromwell’s puritan period. When Charles II back to the throne, he ordered the re-opening of theatres and the churches as well.
  • Charles II parliament was stuffed with Anti catholic cabinet, he himself was conformed to Anglicanism but had sympathy towards Catholics. Due to this, you will find him at odds to his own parliament.
  • The king was morally corrupt and so the public. He had many mistresses and illicit relationships.
  • Charles II had no legitimate heir. James (brother of Charles) was the next one who could possibly take over the throne. Parliament was not in favor of James and forced Charles II to exclude his brother from the line of succession.
  • Exclusion crisis resulted in the formation of two political parties, Tories, they are in favor of the king, and the second one is Whigs, they opposed Charles II.
  • The whole nation under the king was corrupt. Protestants were on the rise at that time and Catholics were dominated by them.
  • James II came to the throne in 1685 and dispensed the test act.

Literary Trends Of Restoration period


English literature was written during the restoration period known as English restoration literature. The writers of this age were completely out of moral sense and seriousness. English literature was highly influenced by French literature. Boileau’s essay, comedies of Moliere were taken as inspiration y the writers of this Era. One can easily see the change in the literature of this age. From fancy to wit and from poetry to prose, this shift in literary preference was also changed due to the political atmosphere during that time. Satire and wit got more popular than fancy and love. One more category of literature add to this was pamphlet literature. John Evelyn and Samuel Pepys were two renowned diarists of that age.

The drama got popular during the restoration period. Two forms of drama got great recognition. One is Heroic play and the other is Restoration of the comedy of manners.

Heroic plays

During restoration age, heroic plays were in trend. Heroic plays are often called as heroic tragedies. These plays present characters with superhuman qualities, they are larger than life and have noble virtues. These plays have a strong portrayal of themes like love, honour, and courage. The writing style of the heroic tragedy was also like epics, i.e. they were written in heroic couplets. They imitate the style of epics and depict love and valor as the main theme. The plot involved the destiny of an empire.

Though Dryden was more popular for Heroic drama, it was Sir William D’ Avenant who brought this style during the restoration period. He was the one who wrote the first heroic drama, ‘The Siege of Rhodes’.

Dryden’s first heroic drama was ‘The first Indian queen’ along with joint efforts of Robert Howard

Restoration comedy of manners

Restoration comedy of manners plays is satires. They satirized the mannerisms, behavior, and ideas of the elite class. Comedy of manners is a depiction of relations of men and women of aristocratic society. These plays include a portrayal of wit, sexual dialogues, sensual innuendos, and rakish behavior.

Comedy of manners of restoration period was influenced by the Ben Johnson’s comedy of humours. English society was in need of new form in entertainment they were earlier starved due to the banned theaters during Puritan age. Restoration comedy of manners is full of sexual dialogues and morally corrupt characters. Earlier these were completely banned. The main dramatist who wrote a comedy of manners were, William Congreve, George Etherege, and Aphra Behn.

Restoration comedy was like a mirror of the upper-class society. It shows a society where Bourgeoisie has a main role and females finding new liberty. Comedy of manners was considered as immoral due to consistent attack on the sanctity of marital bond and growing preference for free love to fulfill sexual needs. Most of the writers were openly writing and portraying promiscuous scenes in the drama which considered a corruption of morality. Such an open display of sexual frankness and openness resulted in the criticism of Restoration comedy.

Beginning of Neoclassicism

When we talk about the literature of the Restoration period, one can see an abrupt change from old standards. It was similar to the way society broke the chains of puritanism. Writers went back into the ancient Greek literature, taking inspiration from the epics.

Imitating the Ancient work

To get guidance and inspiration, writers started following the classical writers. Specifically, Latin writer’s influence could be easily seen over the writers of restoration age.

Influence from the French

The literature of the Restoration period was highly dominated by French culture. The reason for French influence was that Charles II and most of the writers had spent their time in France. When they arrived in England, they brought French culture and ideas with them. As discussed earlier, you can see indecency and coarseness of French literature into the Comedy of manners.

The restoration was an age of reasons and prose

This was the time period when prose evolved and found its place in England. This age was an age of reasons. Imagination was left behind and now people were becoming more practical and logical. The growth of science and reasoning, religious discontent and political controversies are the reason behind the rise of prose.

End of lyrics and emergence of satire

Lyrical poetry was almost on the verge of getting the end. Most of the poems were argumentative and narrative. Such poetry was to persuade but not to inspire anyone. The best and popular type of poetry during the restoration era was satirical. Absalom and Achitophel are one of the best examples of political satire of that time. It was based on the life and Charles II.

Prominent literary figures of the restoration period


John Dryden

Dryden was an English poet, playwright, and critic. He was born in Northamptonshire in 1631.  After the restoration of King Charles II to the throne, he wrote a royalist panegyric which was a celebration and praising of King Charles II. Dryden named Poet Laureate in 1668 by King Charles II, as he was pleased and happy with Dryden’s work. Dryden always had the zeal to achieve perfection of form. He was very much into achieving clarity, symmetry, logic, reasoning but he has some leftover traits of Elizabethan time, i.e. imagination and fancy elements in his works. Dryden came back to the blank verse. He used to mix-up comedies with Tragedies.

Dryden was also called Father of English criticism by Dr. Johnson. Dryden was the one who brought the concept of descriptive criticism. His work of criticism is about literary analysis. He was also a pioneer of Historical criticism.

Dryden was also a dramatist. He started his career as a dramatist with Wild Gallant. He has written many heroic plays as well like:

  • The tyrannic love: It is a tragedy by John Dryden. It was written in rhymed couplets. This tragedy by Dryden is a retelling of the famous story of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. Her killing was done by Roman Emporer Maximinus.
  • Conquest of Granada: It is a restoration era tragedy in two parts. It was first acted in 1670 and 1671. The date of publishing of this tragedy is 1672. Conquest of Granada was a heroic drama as well as satire.
  • Aurengazebe: This was the drama written by Dryden, Showcasing the life of Aurangzeb. it is written in rhymed verses and considered as one of the best heroic work.
  • Absalom and Achitophel: This masterpiece by Dryden is considered as the finest political satire in the English language. The poem is having biblical tale of Absalom and his rebellion against King David. The poems represent the story of the contemporary king Charles @ and excursion bill.

Samuel Butler

He was a powerful satirist at that time. His one of the most famous satirical work was Hudibras. He satirized Puritanism in his work. Hudibras is an epic written to mock Puritans. It consists of mock-heroic elements, buffoonery, irony and witty epigrams. Some of the famous works of Butler:

  • Hudibras: It is a mock-heroic poem from the 17th century. It is a satire on Puritans, Presbyterians, etc. It is loosely based on civil war.

Abraham Cowley

He was one of the greatest literary figures in the area of essays. He has written personal essays. His essay’s lengths were small and were based on moral subjects. He used to give a personal touch in his work and that was the main charm that attracted the readers during that time period. Popular work of Cowley:

  • On myself
  • The essays

John Bunyan

He was a famous name amongst the religious writers. His writing style and personality were highly influenced by the bible. His most popular writing are:

  • Grace abounding: It is a spiritual autobiography on Puritans written by John Bunyan. The autobiography has various biblical references.
  • The life and death of Mr. Badman: The book is about society and man who is dead. The book was a commentary over the societal sins and redemptions.
  • The pilgrim’s progress: It is an allegory by John Bunyan. It is one of the most appreciated works of religious and theological fiction.

William Congreve

He was the master of Restoration comedy of manners. He wrote all his comedies before turning to 30. The first play by Congreve is Old Bachelor. It was highly successful. Some other great works by William Congreve are:

  • Love for love: It was a British comedy, and a farcical one too. It is famous for its humorous characters, and witty dialogues.
  • The way of the world: It is regarded as one of the best restoration comedy and yet performed in many theatres of Britain. The play is centered on two chief characters Mirabell and Millamant.

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Questions based on the restoration period

What is the restoration period?

The restoration period is a period that came to exist when the monarchy was restored in England. The period started when King Charles II came to the throne in 1660. The period lasted until 1785. The term restoration coined to indicate the period when new political rules were established. The literature produced during this period was known as Restoration period literature. During the time of the restoration period, there was an outpouring of pamphlet literature. The literature that gained popularity during those years was novel, political and religious literature, socio-political literature, drama, and satire. 

Why is it called the restoration period?

The restoration period is called the restoration because Monarchy was restored. King Charles II came to the throne again. During the restoration period, human reasons got importance. Corruption was high during this period. King has many mistresses and illicit relationships with them. There was a social transformation at the beginning of the restoration period. The period is also known as restoration because it has restored the atmosphere of gaiety and cheerfulness, of licentiousness and moral laxity. Restoration period theatres gain popularity once again. They have reopened after 18 years of shutdown. During this period the development of science took place. People lost the confidence of the church and the preachings of the pope. For further reference go through You will find the articles based on restoration literature.

What was the clothing in the restoration period?

Fashion during the time of the restoration era is also known as Carolean fashion. One can identify the cloths by watching the various curls on it, ribbons were used on the dresses. Moreover, bows, feathers, puffs are the attraction of clothing during that era. 

Uses of colors also fascinate the researchers. Restoration dresses used bright and vivid colors. Dark colors are mostly preferred colors of the puritans. The restoration society preferred bright colors. The bold colors showed the latest fashion in Europe as well as the end of the dark age of puritans. You can read more about it on Britannica to enhance your understanding.

What was the men’s choice of clothing during the restoration era?

One of the most intriguing facts about the men’s clothing during that time is that most of them were crossdressers as per the standards of the 21st century. They used to wear heels and long hair wigs were in popular culture during that time. Men prefer to wear cravats and tight piece of cloth around the neck. Long trousers and petticoats style dresses were also quite popular among the men of restoration age. 

What was women’s clothing during the restoration age?

High waisted dresses of an earlier era were superseded with long vertical lined garments and of shoulder horizontal dresses. Women started wearing a corset to give a sexy shape to their bodies. Overskirts with heavy decorations were also in trend. Mantua style was in trend during the restoration era. This dress hung from the shoulder to the floor. Their dresses were also having frills, ribbons, and bows just like the dresses men were having.


Moving towards the end of this blog let’s have quick recall of the things which we have discussed in this blog.

The blog started the description of Puritan Age.  The second thing which I have discussed with you is the literary trends of Puritan age. In this section, I discuss the things related to the literature, about the writing styles and popular themes used in literary work during that time. After that, there is a description of the next age that is a restoration period. It began when Charles II came to the throne and monarchy came back to England. One can clearly see a big difference between Puritan age and Restoration age. The difference could be seen in the religious activities and political scenario of that time. Puritans were the supporters of Catholics whereas during restoration time, logical reasoning, scientific discoveries lead to the questioning of Catholic preaching.

Literature was also got affected by political and religious scenarios. Absalom and Achitophel by Dryden was a perfect depiction of King Charles II court. Poetry was replaced by prose and satires. Imagination and fancy were replaced by realism. Writers started to follow classical Greek and Latin writers for inspiration. This brought the concept of neoclassicism.  The last part of the blog is a description of the main literary figures during the restoration Era.

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