When the Renaissance crept into the world’s social senses people were moved. However, when the Renaissance began to affect the literature of the sixteenth century, the world was changed forever. The Renaissance, meaning a “re-birth,” was a time of many changes. These changes wrought pandemonium among the civilized people of earth. There was a recovery and discovery of medieval texts in which scholars were deeply impressed by.
Those in love with the arts and literature now had more choices to view and read. There was an outpour of those individuals attempting to create paintings that exemplified the feelings that saturated the minds of the brilliant scholars. Most importantly, however, was the huge change of the role of the church in everything. Martin Luther nailed up his “95 Thesis” and thus began the Reformation of the Catholic Church. With this came a rushing tide of secularization in Europe. This, of course, blew over into literature and the arts.Order now
The Faerie Queen is one epic that included the ideals and morals that the excommunicated Christians found rather intriguing and good to follow after. One can easily compare the Red Cross Knight to a Christ figure. Other characters can be paralleled to Biblical men and women as well. It was the era of discovery. People chose to discover themselves. Identities were formed and the individual man began to take more notice of himself than any other.
This was a more difficult task for the Protestants because of their commitments. However, they were surrounded by this culture, lived in it, and were comfortable in the right to think about one’s self more often. In The Faerie Queen we see the “hero” attempt to fight off the evil thing that is plaguing a friend who has asked for his help. Here is the Christian once again the helper and sustainer of life. The Reformation had caused a sort of brave attitude to cover Europe.
Another genre of writing that was popular during the Renaissance was the sonnet.
Shakespeare loved his sonnets and wrote many that coincide with the ideals that were ever present in this time period. This is where the greater secularization became too obvious. The self is the main character in Shakespeare’s sonnets. How the self (the speaker) feels or reacts, what he dreams or wishes are shared with the audience. Time is a god. Nature is a god.
During the medieval period his sonnets would have had to be changed to add some sort of religious purpose before any audience could read them. However, with remarkable split from the Church of England, new things took place. New and individual theologies were made up. Specifically, in the first two lines of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, he writes “When my love swears that she is made of truth,/I do believe her, though I know she lies.” This sonnet continues to relish in the fact that these to liars are in love so they are perfect for each other and they “lie” together. Many of his sonnets have such a secular theme in them like this one has.
This author would obviously cause problems if he had been written and published three hundred years earlier. Seeing the changes when one compares this sonnet to a work like The Faerie Queen, one can tell that the Renaissance was a time where so many changes were occurring. It was a period of constant re-birth, from beginning to end.