Renaissance period Essay

Submitted By belskiezoner111
Words: 1485
Pages: 6

Renaissance Period:

Context:
Late fifteenth to mid-seventeenth centuries
Major turning point for British culture
Religious and political conditions  vibrant literature, rich with free thinking
Invention of printing press – more available to read, ideas could be circulated more widely
Emergence of philosophy of humanism – more available to read about
Expansion of English drama – more theatre to see
Medieval chivalric romance  craft and art of lyric poetry
Historical:
Wealthy patrons and leaders = rebirth in interest in writing, arts and culture
Subject matter and forms prominent in classical society – ancient Greece and Rome
Much of England preoccupied with endless, petty wars of succession between the Houses of York and Lancaster
King Richard III murdered allies and enemies to attain the throne – murdered by Earl of Richmond
1845  enough political stability to allow ideas of the Renaissance to begin to filter through
Commercial treaties made with Europe = more trade and communication
Invention of firearms = decline of medieval feudalism
New farming methods = increase of urbanization
Philosophical:
Rise of humanism
Before, humans as worthless, sinful creatures, tarred by the original sin of Adam, eternity of heaven or hell, short span of life on earth = prelude
Humanists  life on earth could be worth living for own sake, humans had dignity and were full of great capacities – curiosity, wit and intelligence – that should be celebrated
Humans were at the centre of the earthly endeavor
Comfortable with our faults
Rethinking of humanity and its role in the world
Huge expansion in range of subjects authors wrote about
Showed humans as they were and society as it was – complex, multilayered characters who were fully involved in what it is to be human
Religious:
Reformation within the Church
Catholic Church believed priests acted as interlocutors between ordinary people and God
Emerging Protestants believed this ‘middleman’ could be eliminated – each person could have own relationship with God
Protestants – a person could be cleansed of sin by faith alone
Catholics – people needed to cleanse through work and atonement
Religion – forefront of political and cultural life in early sixteenth century
Political:
Political stability and protective cultural umbrella strengthened under Elizabeth I  length of reign, canny firmness of rule and genuine interest in arts
Made herself into cultural icon – England as her spouse
Encouraged flattering portrayals of self in art and poetry
Patronage system working tightly – ensured greater loyalty among members of aristocracy
Successor James I continued association with literature
Fear of Catholics continued – worsened by Gunpowder Plot
Split of first half of seventeenth century = Protestant royalists and Puritan rebels
Literature went into a deep freeze during decade Puritans in power
Cultural:
Influence and being noticed = power
Literature in form of praise of the patron increased power
Many writers wrote poetry as a supplementary activity to their work as statesmen or diplomats
Not enough money in writing to support oneself
Publication generally unprofitable for writers
No copyright – once a work was in society any other printer could print the work without obligation to pay the poet
To publish would often diminish one’s reputation – beneath many nobles
Once a writer was published he or she had to risk censorship

Sonnets:
Fourteen lines
Each line ten syllables long
Iambic pentameter
Shakespearean sonnet – three linked quatrains that state and develop an idea, rhyming couplet to tie it all together, rhyme scheme – abab cdcd efef gg
Petrarchan sonnet – one octave that states an idea, one sestet that responds to the idea, rhyme scheme – abba abba cdcdcd or abba abba cdecde

John Donne:
Wrote clever, amorous poems, offered elaborate seductions of women
Also wrote devotional poetry to God with…