What is Renaissance?
The Renaissance was, in essence, an intellectual ‘Rebirth’. Italian word Renaissance its means ‘The Revival Of Learning’. Actually, it's a Roman and Greek classic regeneration. Like most great historical movements, the Renaissance can't be said to have begun at any specific movement or to have been confined to any one department of human activity. Literally, ‘Renaissance’ means ‘rebirth’ or ‘reawakening’ and the name refers to the rebirth of classical especially Greek learning, often centuries of comparative neglect.
In other words, it was an age of classical revival Greek literature revived, Greek literature re-interpreted. This classical revival had great effects on the life and literature of Europe. But this revived interest is only part of a larger change in point of view. It's related to questioning of tradition, the rise of a scientific spirit, emphasis on the complete development of the individual, and a concentration of attention if this present world rather than the next.
For this reason, it's generally accepted that the Renaissance period began with the beginning of the sixteenth century and continued until the Restoration period in 1660. This period is called the Renaissance period because the Renaissance spirit was the main driving force that characterized the literature of this time. This period of one hundred sixty years is subdivided into four shorter a period after the names of the political rulers.
A brief history of the Renaissance Period
The Renaissance of the sixteenth century brought about an intellectual re-awakening with a tendency to come away from the Medieval feudalism and religious institution. The Renaissance was the artistic, literary and scientific revival which originated in Italy in the fourteenth century and which influenced the rest of the world in a variety of way age in the next two centuries. It was also typified by the spirit of humanism, a return to classical values and the beginning of the objective scientific inquiry. Renaissance, in essence, is a respect for knowledge.
And the Elizabethan Renaissance means Greek literature revived, Greek literature re-interpreted. An impulse for individualism, adventurism, religious scepticism and an endless thirst for knowledge and power, to know everything, to possess everything was the most important characteristics of the age. A thirst for beauty and a kind of sensuousness was also evident in that period. Renaissance was an epoch in European history during which there was the revival in learning and creative thinking. The mode of thought of the people changed from one of piousness to that of secularism. People no longer remained faithful to traditional or Orthodox Christianity but wanted to satisfy their spiritual and physical desire. They longed for beauty in the mountains, beauty in nature, beauty in art and beauty in women. In short, they were passionate and sensuous in their application of art and life.
The English Renaissance falls between the years 1578 and 1625 or 1630 roughly between Thomas Kyd, Marlowe and other writers of prose, poetry and drama. The post-Shakespearean era is roughly from 1625-1660 and this is also known as the period of decadence or a period of transition from Romanticism of the Renaissance to the realism of the restoration. The Romanticism of the Elizabethan Renaissance means the extraordinary expression of creative genius in poetry, prose and drama. It is mainly equated with the highly imaginative and emotional nature of prose, poetry as well as drama. In other words, poetry atmosphere in literature. This is the reason why the Elizabethan Renaissance is called the first age of Romanticism.
Renaissance England brought about freedom of thought in different spheres of life. It was a respect for knowledge and learning The English Renaissance influenced/affected the literature of England more than ever before. There had been tremendous litre works on prose, poetry and drama. The spirit of the Engl Renaissance was essentially romantic and this characteristic of English Renaissance can be traced in the works of Marlowe. Love for power, authority, knowledge and an appreciation of beauty are the important characteristics of the English Renaissance. " End Justifies the Means" or what we have a tendency to call Machiavellism is another vital characteristic of the Elizabethan Renaissance.
Humanism, individualism and the desire to know the unknown, to see the Shakespe e unseen is another significant characteristic of the area Renaissance. English Renaissance has become an age for the development of the individual and the revival of antiquity and assistance is the discovery of the world and of man. This aspect of Ren represented by Spenser, Marlowe and Shakespeare. The other glamorous aspect of the Renaissance was the rise of economic individualism and the development of realism in political thought and action. Ben Jonson took the realistic facts of life and satirized them in his comedy. Johnson dealt with the public world as he saw with his eyes and not the unreal romantic world of imagination. He satirizes the realities of life so that people can overcome them. Renaissance humanism or glorification of the self is recognized as one of the cardinal aspects of the European Renaissance. A kind of assertive individualism developed which was in sub-contract to the humble attitude of the Medieval age. An individual is glorified. The man was re-created with the gift of physical, sensual, moral and spiritual qualities. Cardinal aspect of life was given equal importance to spiritual. A Renaissance man was a licentious man, a voluptuous man. English Renaissance also meant the enlightenment of the mind. According to Lamartine, the essence of the Renaissance was that "Man discovered himself and the universe". People became liberal and humane in outlook. This new interest in man finds its first successful expression in Shakespeare. Shakespeare becomes lyrical in his praise of man.
The opening of the Elizabethan period saw the drama struggling into maturity. But the early type of this time was scholarly in tone and aristocratic in wits. In their hands, drama first began to realize its latent potentiality and vitality which typify the Elizabethan drama. This stage was succeeded by Shakespeare who represents the maturity of the English Renaissance. The crown and flower of Elizabethan literary achievement are embodied in Shakespeare-the entire spirit of Renaissance is found in drama and poetry. In fact, the romantic and lyrical strain of the English Renaissance is represented by Marlowe. The revenge and melodramatic tradition are represented by Kyd. What Marlowe and Kyd began with promise, found its supreme expression in the hand of Shakespeare. The crudities of Kyd and the inconsistencies of Marlowe find refinement in Shakespeare. But in Shakespearean drama light comedy became popular, partly because the tragic note of exalted pity had degenerated into melodrama and horrors.