Was Ben Jonson a Bricklayer and a Poet?

Ben Jonson, a remarkable figure of the 17th century, ventured upon an unconventional journey that intertwined the worlds of craftsmanship and literature. Born with the gift of an exceptional classical education, Jonson's path diverged from the realms of academia as he embarked on a peculiar odyssey. He transitioned from a mere schoolboy to an apprentice bricklayer, diligently honing his skills in the realm of construction. Embracing the mantle of a soldier, he marched forward, instilling discipline and resilience within his soul. Yet, behind the facade of a laboring artisan and warrior, a vivid imagination fervently stirred within Jonson's being, propelling his ascension towards the realms of creative artistry. With each momentous step, his transformative journey boldly intertwined the seemingly disparate worlds of bricklaying and poetry, ultimately crowning him as one of the most eminent playwrights and poets of his time, Ben Jonson.

How Did Ben Jonson Learn to Read and Write?

In addition to his formal education, Ben Jonson also acquired knowledge from various sources outside the classroom. He became an apprentice bricklayer, a trade that exposed him to a wide range of reading materials, such as classical literature and works of contemporary poets. This exposure fueled his passion for writing and shaped his literary style.

Furthermore, Jonsons strong intellectual curiosity drove him to explore different subjects and delve into various areas of knowledge. He frequented the vibrant literary and theatrical circles of London, engaging in intellectual discussions and exchanging ideas with fellow writers, actors, and scholars. This interaction broadened his horizons, helping him refine his writing skills and acquire a deeper understanding of language and literature.

Moreover, Jonsons own determination and dedication played a crucial role in his development as a writer. He constantly challenged himself to improve his literary abilities and experimented with different literary forms and genres. Through rigorous self-study and practice, Jonson honed his skills in reading and writing, continuously pushing the boundaries of his creativity.

Lastly, Jonsons exposure to the vibrant cultural and intellectual atmosphere of Renaissance England greatly influenced his learning journey. The flourishing literary scene of the time, coupled with the Renaissances focus on humanism and the rediscovery of classical knowledge, provided Jonson with a fertile ground for intellectual growth. Through the assimilation of these various influences, Jonson developed his unique style, incorporating elements of classical literature and humanist ideals into his writing.

Furthermore, Ben Jonson claimed that Shakespeare lacked craftsmanship, pinpointing instances such as the portrayal of a sea-shore in landlocked Bohemia. Despite these criticisms, there’s no denying Jonson’s deep admiration and reverence for Shakespeare’s talents, as he once referred to him as the “star of poets” and believed his works were timeless, transcending any specific era.

What Did Ben Jonson Say About Shakespeare?

Ben Jonson, a renowned playwright and contemporary of William Shakespeare, held a deep admiration for his fellow wordsmith. Describing Shakespeare as “Thou star of poets,” Jonsons affection for the Bard was evident. He believed that Shakespeares works weren’t limited to a specific era but had a timeless quality that resonated with audiences of all generations.

However, Jonsons love for Shakespeare didn’t blind him to the flaws he perceived in his friends work. Criticizing Shakespeares lack of attention to detail, Jonson highlighted an instance where he depicted a sea-shore in landlocked Bohemia. This critique showcased Jonsons belief that art should strive for accuracy and realism, and he felt that Shakespeare had fallen short in this regard.

Despite this criticism, Jonsons adoration for Shakespeare remained steadfast. He recognized the unparalleled genius encapsulated within his friends works. He understood the immense impact that Shakespeares plays had on both his contemporaries and future generations. Jonsons assertion that Shakespeare was not only for his own time but for all time exemplified his unwavering belief in the lasting significance of Shakespeares literary contributions.

Exploring the Concept of Timelessness in Shakespeare’s Works, as Discussed by Jonson

  • The idea of timelessness in Shakespeare’s works is a topic that’s been extensively discussed.
  • Jonson, a contemporary of Shakespeare, was particularly interested in this concept.
  • Many of Shakespeare’s plays explore themes that transcend time, making them relevant to audiences today.
  • Shakespeare’s use of language and his ability to capture the universal human experience are some of the reasons why his works are considered timeless.
  • Jonson praised Shakespeare’s ability to create characters that are relatable and enduring.
  • He believed that Shakespeare’s plays would be appreciated by future generations due to their timelessness.
  • The concept of timelessness in Shakespeare’s works also extends to the themes and conflicts he explores.
  • Love, power, jealousy, and ambition are some of the universal themes that Shakespeare addresses in his plays.
  • These themes resonate with audiences regardless of the time period in which they’re performed.
  • Overall, the exploration of timelessness in Shakespeare’s works, as discussed by Jonson, emphasizes the enduring value and relevance of his plays.

Following his time at Westminster, Ben Jonson embarked on a diverse range of early occupations, including serving as a soldier in the Netherlands and working as a bricklayer under his stepfather. It was during this period that he entered into matrimony with Anne Lewis in 1594.

What Was Ben Jonson First Job?

Ben Jonsons early employment was marked by a diverse range of occupations and experiences. Following his education at Westminster School, he embarked on a stint as a soldier in the Netherlands. This engagement allowed him to gain valuable insights and skills in the military realm. However, his career took a different turn when he returned to England and became a bricklayer, working under the guidance of his stepfather.

Despite the unconventional nature of these early endeavors, Jonsons talent and passion for writing soon paved the way for his success. In 1594, he took a significant step in his personal life by marrying Anne Lewis. This union marked the beginning of a new chapter for Jonson, one that would shape his future as a renowned playwright and poet.

Marriage and family became cornerstones of Jonsons life, as he strived to provide for his wife and children. Although his early life was marked by financial struggles, his dedication to his craft laid the foundation for a prosperous career. Jonsons commitment to his family saw him rise from humble beginnings to become one of the most influential figures in Elizabethan literature.

The lessons learned during his time as a soldier and bricklayer undoubtedly shaped Jonsons approach to his work. These experiences lent a sense of realism and practicality to his plays and poems, setting him apart from his contemporaries. By drawing inspiration from his own trials and triumphs, he captivated audiences with his ability to portray the complexities of human nature.

His diverse range of experiences added depth and richness to his work, allowing him to connect with audiences on a profound level. Through his marriage and family, Jonson found stability and inspiration, fueling his relentless pursuit of artistic excellence.

Ben Jonson’s poetry is renowned for it’s exceptional fusion of diverse elements. His works skillfully combine praise and instruction, intertwining the personal and the visual in a captivating manner. Jonson’s poetry seamlessly blends moral messages with factual accuracy, navigating between universal principles and vivid particular examples. By embracing these characteristics, Jonson’s poetry transcends conventional boundaries and offers readers a unique and thought-provoking experience.

What Are the Characteristics of Ben Jonson Poetry?

Ben Jonson, a prominent figure in English literature, displayed a myriad of characteristics in his poetry that set him apart from his contemporaries. One of his notable qualities was his ability to seamlessly integrate elements of praise and instruction into his verses. Whether he was paying homage to a monarch or critiquing societal norms, Jonson had a unique way of blending admiration and guidance within his poetry.

Furthermore, Jonsons works often showcased his mastery of the pictura – the art of painting with words. Through vivid imagery and intricate description, he painted a detailed picture in the readers mind, bringing his verses to life. This skillful use of language enabled him to connect with his audience on a deeper level, engaging their senses and leaving a lasting impression.

Another notable characteristic of Jonsons poetry was his commitment to conveying both moral and factual truth. He skillfully merged ideas of universal principles with specific examples, allowing readers to grasp the underlying messages he sought to convey. His poems often served as vehicles for social commentary, shedding light on the virtues and vices of his time.

Moreover, Jonsons poetry captured the essence of humanity in it’s various forms. His works transcended time and space, tackling themes and subjects that touched the core of the human experience. Whether he was exploring love, friendship, or the complexities of human nature, Jonson delved deep into the intricacies of the human condition, connecting with readers on an emotional and intellectual level.

Examination of Jonson’s Treatment of Gender and Gender Roles in His Poetry

  • Exploration of societal expectations and norms
  • Challenging traditional gender roles through subversion
  • Representation of female agency and empowerment
  • Examination of the male gaze and objectification of women
  • Depiction of gender fluidity and non-binary identities
  • Interrogation of the performative nature of gender
  • Critique of patriarchy and it’s impact on individuals
  • Exploration of love and desire beyond gender boundaries

Source: Ben Jonson

After immersing themselves in Ben Jonson’s writing philosophy and style, his loyal followers formed their own collective identity, proudly calling themselves the Tribe of Ben. It was a fitting homage to their esteemed mentor, aligning themselves as his literary successors. Interestingly, this designation carried an added significance as all of Jonson’s own children had tragically passed away by the 1620s.

What Did the Followers of Ben Jonson Come to Be Known As?

The followers of Ben Jonson, an esteemed playwright and poet of the Jacobean era, came to be known as the Tribe of Ben. In their admiration for Jonsons writing philosophy and distinctive style, they fervently embraced his literary principles and emulated his works. The name, Tribe of Ben, conveyed a profound sense of allegiance and reverence towards Jonson, likening themselves to his literary progeny. Interestingly, this appellation holds even more significance in light of the tragic circumstances Jonson faced, as all of his legal children had passed away by the 1620s.

This community supported and celebrated each others works, fostering an atmosphere of collaboration and camaraderie. Together, they worked towards promoting Jonsons literary vision and preserving his memory, ensuring that his influence on the English literary landscape would endure.

They played a pivotal role in the development of English drama, particularly during a time of great artistic innovation and experimentation. Their works, while influenced by Jonson, also showcased their individual talents and perspectives, contributing to the rich tapestry of Jacobean literature.

They took pride in emulating his writing style and philosophy, presenting themselves as his chosen successors. Through their works, they both celebrated Jonsons legacy and contributed to the vibrant literary landscape of the time.

Literary Collaborations Within the Tribe of Ben: Investigate the Extent of Collaboration and Exchange of Ideas Among the Members of the Tribe of Ben. Identify Any Notable Collaborations or Joint Projects That Emerged From This Community, and Discuss Their Significance in Relation to the Individual Works of the Writers Involved.

  • John Donne and Ben Jonson collaborated on the play “The Isle of Dogs.”
  • John Ford and John Webster collaborated on the play “The Witch of Edmonton.”
  • Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher collaborated on numerous plays, including “The Knight of the Burning Pestle” and “Philaster.”
  • Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker collaborated on the play “The Roaring Girl.”
  • John Marston and George Chapman collaborated on the play “Eastward Ho!”


Ben Jonson's journey from a classically educated schoolboy to an apprentice bricklayer and soldier is a testament to his extraordinary resilience and talent. Despite facing the challenges of a non-traditional path, Jonson emerged as one of the most prominent playwrights and poets of the 17th century. His ability to seamlessly transition from a highly specialized profession to the literary world is a reflection of his unparalleled versatility and determination. Jonson's diverse background undoubtedly shaped his unique perspective, contributing to the depth and brilliance found in his works. His enduring legacy serves as an inspiration to aspiring artists, reminding them that greatness can be achieved through perseverance and the pursuit of one's passions, regardless of the starting point.

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