Molding Shakespeare Essay

1284 words - 6 pages

Molding Shakespeare
The creation of a profound poet and playwright, William Shakespeare, was the direct result of the Renaissance.
In order to understand how Shakespeare came to be, there is first a need to understand exactly what the Renaissance was. The original Italian word, ‘Rinascimento’, means ‘rebirth’ (Wilberg). This refers of course to the rebirth of learning. The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spread all over Europe and was considered the division between the Middle Ages and the Modern Era (Castellan). During this movement literature was one of the many arts that took on an innovative form due to the new and awakened perspectives of man. However before the Renaissance, known as the medieval times, people were considered subject to God.
Also, because people were considered subject to God, medieval literature placed a great emphasis on the blend of fantasy and reality. Though literary characters displayed human characteristics, their personalities transcended those of fictitious figures such as leaders, Saints, and even God. Even works of romance and honor had a religious overtone hidden within them. Unfortunately this limited the amount of manuscripts that were recorded because only monks could hand-copy the manuscripts of written works (Ahn). For this reason only a few manuscripts were actually available to the rich and noble leaving peasants to pass stories down from generation to generation orally. This dramatically changed in the Renaissance.
In contrast to medieval literature, new revolutions of the Renaissance, such as the printing press, immensely gapped the bridge between such primitive literature and the literature of the middle ages. Because of the printing press, literature was then allowed to become widespread throughout Europe. Also perhaps the most vivid distinction between these two types of literature is that the modern thinkers of the Renaissance time focused more on the “here and now” rather than the religious driven aspects of the future (Ahn). These thinkers were also known as “humanists”. They believed that rather than being subject to God, man should be subject to study. Investigations in writings of ancient Greece and Rome, astronomy, anatomy, science, and much more began to blossom from the depths of the human psyche (Castellan). Shakespeare used this new mind of study to institute his characters.
“Shakespeare himself indicated little interest in or support of religious supernaturalism. The absence of religion in Shakespeare, England’s greatest poet, chose to leave his heroes and himself in the presence of life and death with no more philosophy than that which the profane world can suggest and understand, namely a species of Humanism” (Santaya).
This quote emphasizes how Humanist views of transferring from medieval ideals of God to those of study helped to establish Shakespeare’s literature. This quote also emphasizes Shakespeare’s focus on the “here and now” rather than what could be assumed...

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