The English renaissance was very delayed from the European movement in Florence during the 1400’s but there was many great works and essays when the movement finally did come about.Renaissance with the French meaning rebirth was used to describe the change in ways of the past or “rebirth”.The renaissance was greatly represented and made understandable by the works of English literature of that time.
During the English renaissance there were literary works of playwrights, philosophers, and poets that all represented the movement.
The English Renaissance was started around 1485 near 100 years after it had started in Europe, and the real start of the rebirth is said to be Battle of Bosworth Field which formally started the Tudor Dynasty and end of the “War of the Roses”. Most works did not come about in England till the 1600’s at the height of the English renaissance. There was a large difference between the English renaissance and that of the movement in Italy; the English renaissance is more of works of music and literature while in Italy the focus was on visual arts.
Philosopher Francis Bacon and Queen Elizabeth herself both wrote of problems with way things are done. Both wrote of their own views on the way that people are, Francis Bacon wrote to warn of the ways and Elizabeth wrote to try to represent the ways of man. The literary works of writers, poets, and playwrights represented the English Resistance and the views of the time. Francis Bacon was a famous philosopher during the English Renaissance, he wrote religious/literary, scientific, and juridical works.
Much of his work greatly represented the renaissance, some of his scientific writings lead to the creation of the Baconian Method or what is now known as the scientific method. Bacon wrote about man, and improving the learning habits, because at the time English improvement of learning was at a standstill. Francis Bacon was known as a man of science, his studies on man led to the essays that described many different aspects of life and how people typically handle them. His work “of Studies” represented the Renaissance humanism, the improvement of man to his full potential.
This piece is a work to describe the benefits of reading, at the time most of the lower class were illiterate. The line “Crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them; for they teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation. ” Helps build the idea that studies improve one, because the simple man is the one left at awe while the others get ahead because they have read and learned. Bacon used this piece of work in showing that if lacking in areas of intelligence reading can help cure it.
This work represents the Renaissance because of its main point that reading is important, that mainly being because a large group mainly lower class were illiterate, and the learning methods in England at the time where totally at a standstill. Bacon had works of improving the Learning process and “of Studies” is part of the idea “So every defect of the mind may have a special receipt”, Meaning that studies can cure any problem of the mind. During the highest point of the English renaissance is William Shakespeare, who greatly represents the ideals of Renaissance humanism in his plays and sonnets.
William Shakespeare is a famous playwright/poet from the 1600’s. He is most famous for his sonnets and in particular sonnet 130 represents the major works of literature during this time period. Shakespeare not only had sonnets to represent the renaissance but all the play Hamlet shows that people with higher intellectual capabilities were witty and self-knowledge. The play hamlet expressed the ideals of Humanism in Hamlet himself, a prince who used wit and self–expression to solve the problem.
Hamlet easily uses his knowledge to discover that his uncle murdered his father. He uses the same principles that support Francis Bacon’s idea that a learned man is a wise and witty man. Acting on his feet he devised a plot to discover the truth of his father murder, scripting a play of the murder to watch the reaction of his uncle. Many of Shakespeare works represented the change of England at the time. Shakespeare’s sonnet 130 is about his mistress. It mocks the works of Petrarch and other Renaissance writers on describe the beauties and perfections of lovers.
The renaissance was plentiful of works describing love, but sonnet 130 approaches the typical love poem at a different point of view. Shakespeare describes the flaws of his lover “And in some perfumes is there more delight, than in the breath that from my mistress reeks” this unflattering remark along with many others act to not only mock the other writing style but to show the imperfections towards his love. In the last couplet of the poem Shakespeare brings in the aspect of love, matching the poems and other love literature of the renaissance. And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare, as any she belied with false compare” this final couplet infers that he won’t lie and tell his mistress she is perfect and “walks on water” , he will tell her the truth and love her either anyways. Towards the end of the renaissance in the 1660 Owen Feltham wrote the great English essay “Of Dreams”, writing about the significance of dreams. Dreams could be used to tell a man’s true intentions, unaltered by the real world. Feltham talks about how the wise Zeno said “He could collect a man by his dreams.
For then the soul, stated in a deep response, bewrayed her true affections”, saying dreams are also much more. Sleeping helps the growth of wisdom from self-understanding, but not all dreams are ones that should be followed. He talks of a man who dreams of a way to fix his spleen pain by opening two veins between his fingers, this is not a dream you would want to wake up and test. He states that some dreams could be considered wise and some to be far out to pursue without practice or planning. Dreams may be, to a wise observer, be of special benefit”, so he is saying listen to your dreams, if your dreams are representing you and if anything from Hamlet is true about self-knowledge leading to wit and wisdom, than listening to your dreams should make you wise. Your dreams are unfiltered versions of your ambitions, and the renaissance was a time of rediscovery. Going from the illiteracy to poems and plays and speeches about self-discovery and love, “of love” is a work that is on the edge of improving knowledge. You won’t learn a book or learn math by sleeping, but your mind might come up with ideas that cannot be taught.
There is a genius of the sleeping mind; it is not altered by reality, with that it might be able to come up with a solution to an unsolved problem. The renaissance in England is argued to not be named that in itself because it was not a social rebirth of roman literature and art; it was a rebirth of ideas. The mindset that was in most works of literature of importance brought up ideas of self-knowledge, and wisdom, this was known as renaissance humanism. I feel most connections can be made through works of literature at this time by that idea, that man should improve themselves.
All the works of the time are pieces of art in themselves, the way that Shakespeare organizes a typical love poem to mock other writers and come up with a creative way to state his love. Renaissance humanism can be found in the deeper thoughts of Owen Feltham, leading to his writing on self-discovery by dreams. These works not only represent the ideas of the renaissance they are what make up the renaissance, they are the “beautiful art” , England’s renaissance was not one of visual arts it was on literature and theater.