While people in the English Renaissance wore different clothes and had no access to digital technology, their artistic expressions and the experiences these embody still have an impact on human beings living in the 21st Century.
Well, this unit has probably been one of the most challenging units I have done to date. Upon entering the literature of the Renaissance period I found myself quite overwhelmed by the difference in language, customs and social norms, which have changed so much over the last 500 years. However, throughout the course of the unit, tutorials, lectures, external visits and guest lecturers, one thing definitely stood out and was clear for me. This was that despite the huge difference in time and culture the messages from the English Renaissance are still able to relate and impact our society of the 21st century. This is successfully done by famous artists such as Shakespeare, Sir Walter Ralegh and Paulo Uccello though their ability to address the Western world’s never-ending, existential questions. In my eyes this is something that Shakespeare employs in all his plays and especially seen in our area of focus, this being The Tempest, King Lear and Twelfth Night.
Shakespeare constantly shows us his characters searching for life’s purpose, the mystery of love and the ramifications of human greed. These three themes are still very much present in today’s society and it was through these that I was able to understand more of Shakespeare and the other writers that shaped this literature and time. To detangle Shakespeare’s language I found the most effective method was to be concise when expressing my interpretation of the play. King Richard is an example of a character who stands the test of time. As seen in today’s politics it was clear to our cohort that Richard could be easily compared to public figures of today’s society such as Donald Trump. As seen in critical blog “Blog 1 Shakespeare” I was able to understand how greed and power can totally control a person’s being and actions. Shakespeare portrays this to his audience by showing Richard’s true colours through his soliloquies. Here we are able to see the innately evil human traits of greed and power overtake him. Expressing these truthful and realistic emotions allow an audience of the 21st century to relate and be impacted by Shakespeare’s everlasting messages. One of my favourites was Ralegh’s poem “What is our life?” and the way it could all still be applied to our current world. He uses an analogy to express that our life is simply a “play of passion” that eventually ends with the “drawn curtains”. The same idea is expressed by Shakespeare as he famously said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”. Both these artists show today’s society and myself that these themes of life and death, playing a trivial role and not being satisfied with what we have are all ongoing experiences for Western humanity. This is further discussed in my blog entry “Sir Walter Ralegh: What is our life?”.
One of my favourites was Ralegh’s poem “What is our life?” and the way it could all still be applied to our current world. He uses an analogy to express that our life is simply a “play of passion” that eventually ends with the “drawn curtains”. The same idea is expressed by Shakespeare as he famously said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”. Both these artists show today’s society and myself that these themes of life and death, playing a trivial role and not being satisfied with what we have are all ongoing experiences for Western humanity. This is further discussed in my blog entry “Sir Walter Ralegh: What is our life?”. This poem continues to be relevant to Western society as everyone plays their individual role to fill time in this big play we call life.
Another great component of this time in literature was the wonderful sonnets Shakespeare produced. After learning about these I decided to give one a try as seen in my blog entry “Shakespeare’s Sonnets wk 10”. I tried to mirror the style of these 14 line poems by using the first line of Sonnet 146, “Full many a glorious morning have I seen” and then creating my own 13 lines to follow. Here I stuck to another one of Shakespeare’s posing questions on why humans are not satisfied with the little bundles of happiness such as crisp and moist morning. I enjoyed this experience as it gave me insight into more social elements of this period that are still relevant to today’s society. At this thought, perhaps this idea of people not taking in the world’s beauty is something that is more relatable now than I was back when Shakespeare wrote it, thus this again showing just how much this literature is still impacting people of today.
Overall through the English renaissance artists, their work and the experiences these encompassed, never-ending messages were created in understanding some of life’s most existential mysteries. One of the most rewarding aspects of this unit is reading works that are 500 years and yet the characters, themes, and language still can speak sense to today’s 21st-century society. That is truly the talent of a proper artist.
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