English Renaissance Literature - History of Art

Renaissance English Literature

The heyday of the English literature of the Renaissance falls at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century, when a crisis of humanism was clearly indicated in a number of Western European countries. English Renaissance literature can be considered almost the youngest of the revivalist literatures of the West. But, rapidly developing, young literature soon surpassed its predecessors, especially in the sphere of the theater. It was designed to reflect the whole complexity of England's life of that time with its sometimes tragic contradictions. In the country, which was thanks to the great geographical discoveries at the center of the new world trade routes, the process of bourgeois development began to proceed quickly. He was relieved by the fact that as a result of prolonged internecine wars of the Scarlet and White Rose (1455-1458), the English feudal lords, in large part, exterminated each other. Instead of the old aristocracy, a "new nobility" appeared, which gradually became bourgeois. At the same time, the process of formation of the nation and national self-consciousness was booming in England.

A well-known influence on the formation of English humanistic literature was rendered by the earlier humanism of other European countries (Erasmus of Rotterdam, I. Vives, and others).

Reached flourishing in the XVI - early XVIII century., English humanism had a preparatory period, falling at the end of the XIV century. Humanistic features were laid down already in the work of Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400), the author of the remarkable work in poetic form "Canterbury Tales", not inferior in artistic brilliancy and cheerfulness " Decameron Boccaccio.

Oxford University becomes the center of humanistic thought. The most vivid figure from the Oxford humanists was Thomas More (1478-1535), political figure (Chancellor of King Henry VIII), philosopher and writer, author of the famous "Utopia"

The greatest development of all literary genres reached in the era of the English Renaissance drama, having deep folk foundations and not alien to the influence of ancient authors, especially Plautus and the Renaissance Italian novelists. For its approval on the stage of the English theaters much has been done by a group of playwrights, Shakespeare's predecessors, nicknamed for high education "university minds" (J. Lily, R. Green, T. Kid, K. Marlo, and others).

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) - an ingenious playwright and poet-bard not only of Renaissance England, but of the whole world and all times. With unchanging success go on theatrical stages, in different languages, to many generations of viewers of the changing world of his ageless dramatic works. Shakespeare-playwright and poet include a capacious characteristic of the figures of the Renaissance as "Titans by the power of thought, passion and character" (F. Engels). His Titanism - in the extraordinary depth of unfolding the contradictions of his complex era, reflected in the characters of his characters with their passions, searches, doubts, providence of the future, in showing how an unjust public order distorts wondrous creation - a person - and how a person still is able to defeat all the abominations and injustices of life.

The scantiness of information about the life of Shakespeare gave rise to the emergence of the middle of the XIX century. hypothesis, according to which the author of 37 plays, two poems and 154 sonnets was not an actor William Shakespeare, but some other person, for unknown reasons, wished to hide his name. So the "Shakespearian question" was born, which resulted in the long dispute of the Stratfordians " and "anti-Straffordians," based on the huge gap between the "content of Shakespeare's works and his being". The answer to this question was given by the scientific secretary of the Shakespeare Commission at the United States Academy of Sciences I.M. Gililov in the book "The Game of William Shakespeare, or The Mystery of the Great Phoenix" (M., 1997). Shakespearian mystery is akin to the secret of Atlantis. Shakespeare, as it turned out, is a huge mysterious country, patiently waiting for more than two centuries to extract its buried under the layer of unknown treasure. Thanks to this book, the mysterious country "Shakespeare" starts float from the depths of the unknown. The author of her well knows the history of the "Shakespearean question", i.e. problems of authorship, and therefore chose the only true way - scientific. It can be argued that this is not a version, but a solution. For all the scientific nature of the book, I.M. Gililov, the reinforcement of each phrase documents and facts collected by previous generations of researchers and most of all by the author - no other answer to the question of the authorship of Shakespeare's works to the author of the section is not possible. The greatest hoax in history, as I.M. Gililov, was made by a married couple Roger Manners, Count Retland (1576-1612), and Elizabeth Manners, Countess of Rethland (1585-1612). Mankind will continue to use the name "Shakespeare", but at the same time know who is behind it.

Shakespeare creates works of enduring ideological and artistic value. His outstanding poetry works include his 151 Sonnet, created between 1592 and 1598. (published in 1609). Their lyrical hero is a man of the Renaissance, who has a high image of friendship, love, art and a concern for the destinies of all mankind. The picture of triumphant evil makes life almost unbearable for him. He is unbearable to see the "Dignity that begs for alms."/Above simplicity, a mocking lie,/A nothingness in a luxurious dress/And frankness that foolishness knows,/And stupidity in the mask of a wise man, a prophet,/And inspiration clenched mouth,/And righteousness in the service of vice ... (translation by S. Marshak). However, this most gloomy of the sonnets (66) ends with the decision to stay alive for the sake of a friend: "Everything is filthy, what I see around,/But I'm sorry to leave you, dear friend". In some sonnets, caring for a friend, the image of which at times grows into all future generations of people, is even more noticeable, which gives the poems a life-affirming character. The art form of sonnets, sincere, devoid of exaggerations, created according to the law of truthful art, proclaimed in 21 of 54 sonnets, is of great perfection: "In love and in word is my law", "Beautiful is beautiful a hundredfold, crowned with the truth precious" .

Shakespeare's dramatic chronicles , from which his playwright's journey began, nine plays named after the names of kings - "King John", "Richard II", " Richard III and others reproduce mostly pictures of the life of medieval England. Although the main characters in them want to know, but there is also a wide social ( Falstaffian "background), where there are also ruined knights (Falstaff, etc.), and proud Shakespearean yeomen, and craftsmen, servants, and soldiers. In chronicles, the attitude of the people to events and rulers ("Henry VI") is given. As a force guiding the course of history, Shakespeare puts forward the "command of Time", approaching the idea of ​​historical regularity. Shakespeare's comedies are distinguished above all by the great cheerfulness that reigns in them with a fun atmosphere.

In comedies, everything is human, smart and good, triumphant over the stupid and evil ("Windsor scoffers", "Two Veronts"), this is the author's belief in the victory of good principles in life, his skill, laughing, parting with the obsolete.

A hymn for the glory of a great Renaissance love, which does not take into account the medieval feudal hostility of the families to which the lovers belong, is the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet (1595). It carries a bright life-affirming beginning. The young Romeo and Juliet are dying, but the age-old feudal prejudices that have infuriated the families of their parents who reconcile themselves over the bodies of their children are buried.

Tragedy Hamlet, Prince of Denmark & ​​quot; (1601) is distinguished by its exceptional depth and complexity. It is no accident that thousands of scientific studies are devoted to it. The deep socio-psychological and artistic meaning of the tragedy is manifested in the assertion of the need to fight against evil, in the utmost indignation against everything that perverts the nature of man, depriving him of true humanity.

The expression of this indignation and defender of humanity is Hamlet - a typical Renaissance figure with its inherent aggravated critical thought, force of passion and character. In the prologue of the play to Hamlet, the Danish prince, a student at the Wittenberg University, is the shadow of a murdered father who asks his son to take revenge on the murderer. The father was ideal for Hamlet: "he was a man, a man in everything". The murderer of Hamlet's father is his uncle Claudius, vile and power-hungry, "pulled the precious crown and thrust it into his pocket." Humanist Hamlet soon realized that the crime of Claudius was only a special case of evil reigning in the Danish kingdom, where it was clearly "rotten." The expression of this rottenness is also the behavior of the mother of Hamlet, Queen Gertrude, too soon after the death of her husband who became the wife of Claudius, which especially injures the soul of her son. The seal of the royal court with its rottenness rests even on the young bride of Prince Ophelia. Hamlet eventually comes to the imminent grave conclusion that not only Denmark, but the whole world is "prison, and excellent: with a lot of closures, dungeons and dungeons". It is also clear to Hamlet that the "century was shaking" and that he, Hamlet, is responsible for giving him strength. Therefore, the specific, private task facing Hamlet - revenge for his father - grows into him for the realization of the need to fight the evil of the century. The task becomes immensely complicated and becomes for him, struggling in essence alone, incredibly difficult. Hence the tragic reflections of Hamlet over her weight, as can be seen from his famous monologue "To be or not to be ...", where it is a question of the most diverse forms of evil in the world around: the "oppressive of the strong", "arrogance of the authorities" , about insults caused to "uncomplaining merit", and much more. Under the weight of his task, Hamlet perishes, expressing his destiny as the fate of the humanists of his time. Although he is biased by a riotous crowd, he remains a single fighter. And this is his tragedy. The only true friend of the prince remains alive - Horatio, who will fulfill Hamlet's last will: tell the truth to the people about him. The hero is defeated not by enemies, not by his own weakness, but by history (A. Kettle). On the Danish throne enters Fortinbras, standing much above the villain Claudius, but "unable to understand what Hamlet understood" (A. Kettle). The image of Hamlet, very complex in psychological terms, received a different interpretation with his scenic incarnation. The history of the Danish prince is raised by Shakespeare's genius before the expression of the tragedy of all mankind at a certain stage of development.

A great depth of the problematics and expressiveness in the depiction of characters, in the disclosure of human passions, the subsequent tragedies of the playwright also differ. In "Othello" the clash of Renaissance bearers - Othello and Desdemona - is again shown with the cynicism and predation of anti-human forces embodied in Iago. And although the collision of "nobility and trust in man" (A. Pushkin) with cunning and meanness leads here to a tragic outcome - to the death of the innocent, full of the charm of Desdemona and then Othello, moral victory remains for the bearers of humanism. Othello, who himself has executed himself for a crime committed through the fault of Iago, dies enlightened, regaining his former faith in man.

In the tragedy King Lear two worlds are represented: the world of true humanity and the world of predators and stale egoists opposed to it, embodied in the senior and middle daughters of Lira Gonerilje and Regan, Cornwall and Edmund. The composition of the world of humanity in the tragedy is changing. First, this is the youngest daughter of Lear Cordelia and Kent, then Edgar joins them, then Lear himself with his jester and Gloucester. Especially noteworthy is the fate of Lear, who attaches himself to the world of humanity, having gone through immeasurable suffering, enabling him to fully understand all the untruth and illusions of his former life. By the power of grand generalizations, Shakespeare, behind the tragedy of Lear, who found himself without a roof over his head, saw the fate of many English "homeless wretch", doomed to poverty by the criminal system of "fencing." Although the finale of "King Lear" tragic - the noble Cordelia perish and the enlightened Lear - still he is not without optimism, and even more so than in "Hamlet".

Shakespeare's work is fundamentally deeply human, humanistic and realistic. The principles of realism are not only embodied in practically his dramaturgy, but also directly spelled out in the works, and especially expressively in "Hamlet". Shakespeare's work is a great synthesis of the Renaissance, combining its achievements and discoveries. It is immortal and unsustainable. They are inspired by composers, painters, filmmakers.

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