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We now understand how the habit of mind that saw the world as a battleground between good and evil produced the morality play. Morality plays allegorized that conflict by presenting characters whose actions were defined as the embodiment of good or evil. This model of reality lived on, overlaid by different conventions, in the more sophisticated Elizabethan works of the following age.

I do not understand the bold sentence. Can someone explain it?

  • ? Which part don't you understand? Elizabethan works are also morality plays, based on different conventions. – Teacher KSHuang Jan 26 '17 at 7:52
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This model of reality (the medieval idea that the world is a battleground between good and evil)

lived on, (continued to exist in later ages)

Overlaid by different conventions (altered or evolved by other, new ideas)

In the more sophisticated Elizabethan works of the following age (in the plays and books written during the more complex Elizabethan age that followed.)

In your example text, the Medieval mental model of the world as a battlefield between good and evil is portrayed by the Morality plays of that period. That concept or model of the world, in the later Elizabethan period, became the underlying or central structure of a new mental model that took that idea and added new ideas and overlaid them (layered over the top), in the same way that muscles overlay a skeleton, or paint overlays (is painted on) a building. This new Elizabethan model of reality (as portrayed by the works of that time) had its origin or roots in the original Morality play model of reality, but was a altered or refined version of that original concept.

  • I do not understand the sentence, because it sounds wrong to be "continued to exist" and "altered by other ideas" at the same time. – user198952 Jan 26 '17 at 21:36
  • So I thought the word "lived on" is used as a meaning of "relying on" and the word "overlaid" as a meaning of "improve compare to previous state". – user198952 Jan 26 '17 at 21:38
  • Thus I understood the sentence as " This model of reality was relying on the more sophisticated Elizabethan works of the following age and it was presented as an improved version in the new works." – user198952 Jan 26 '17 at 21:45
  • @user198952: not exactly. 'The more sophisticated Elizabethan works' are a reflection of or explanation of the Elizabethan theory. At some point someone who was exposed to the Morality Play concept formed the Elizabethan form of that theory, and some Elizabethan works are the way that new theory was articulated or spread during that period. I edited my answer to add more details that hopefully clarify. – Mark Ripley Jan 27 '17 at 6:07

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