Shakespeare Christian Beliefs

Words: 1408
Pages: 6

The Renaissance, a rebirth of classical antiquity where art, literature, and learning were revived, originated in Italy during the 14th century. The forgotten Greco-Roman civilization was rediscovered during the Renaissance, and with it came classical values, a questioning attitude, and an increased interest for worldly matters. By the 15th century, the Renaissance ideas in Italy spread northward to England, France, and Holland, and the Northern Renaissance came about. The Elizabethan era, regarded as the golden age of England, began with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Literature grew immensely during this time period, and the majority of it was accredited to William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564 in Stratford-on-Avon,
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Hamlet was a Christian play set in the time of the Renaissance. While considering suicide, Hamlet says, “I’m more an antique roman than a dane,” by which he means that he believes more in the Roman belief that suicide is honorable rather than the Christian belief that suicide is a sin. Macbeth contains several references to the Christian belief. Macbeth asks a murderer, “Are you so gospeled?” (3.1.90) which Paul Cantor, a renowned professor, translates to, “Are you so Christian that you won’t kill this guy now?” Hamlet and Macbeth are provided with two sets of beliefs and have to choose which one to follow. Upon seeing the ghost of Banquo, Macbeth remarks, “when the brains were out, the man would die, And there an end. But now they rise again” (3.4.82-83). This implies that though a body may die, the soul lives on. The idea of a soul is central to Christianity, and therefore this is a perfect example of how Greco-roman beliefs adapted with Christian beliefs during the Renaissance. Achilles, the Greek hero of the Trojan War, killed his enemy with ease, however Shakespeare’s characters did not have the liberty for they had to think about more than just the physical body. They would have to think about the soul of the victim as well, and question life after death. Right before …show more content…
Shakespeare was able to achieve great professional heights due to the support of rulers like James I and the nobility, and therefore he was inclined to agree with their beliefs and lay his affinities with the court. Shakespeare, like most of his period, was one for stability and order, "There can easily be too much liberty... but the idea of too much authority is foreign to him." (Crosby 19). In fact, he managed to appoint a king even in the desert island of the Tempest. (Crosby 26). Furthermore Shakespeare “saw nothing but anarchy in democracy” (H.B Charlton). He was strictly opposed to the rising power of citizens and believed that is should be suppressed, and therefore criticized democracy at every opportunity. Shakespeare found no difficulty in praising nobility, and rather would never stand for any criticism of it, whereas he found it very easy to find fault with those of lesser status. Joan of Arc, the French female peasant who guided France to victory in the Hundred Year’s War, is not given any credit and is rather insulted in Part I of Henry VI due to Shakespeare’s “dislike that a woman of humble birth should interfere in affairs of State.” (Tolman 283). The rebellion led by Jack Cade in 1450 is also victim to this as in the play, the cause of the rebellion, a plea for a ruler who would not succumb to abusing power, is completely