All across the continent of Europe, darkness and death greets every living soul. The Bubonic Plague has obliterated over a third of the population in less than a five year period. The Middle Ages had been ongoing in Europe for nearly a thousand years, and original Greek and Roman culture had been forgotten. All had seemed hopeless for the life of an average European. Suddenly, at around 1350 A. D in Italy, a major shift in history caused Europe to spring into a Modern Era. This period in history is known as the Renaissance, or rebirth in learning.
Humanism was a new concept that was focused on during this period, or the focus on the individual and that humans are creative. This period began with the Italian Renaissance and later spread into Europe which is now called the Northern Renaissance. Overall, the Renaissance improved the individual and society by serving as a rebirth of European literature, art focused on the individual, and positive political influence with structure. Literature is an example of one quality that greatly improved for both the individual and society during the Renaissance. Many famous authors and playwrights emerged with creative and humanistic minds.
One example of one of the most famous writers during the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. In one of his plays titled Hamlet, in Act II of Scene II, the lines he wrote read “What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! (Doc. 2). ” Shakespeare’s lines suggest that humans are strong mentally and physically by having an infinite amount of faculty.
They also outline a point on how we use expression and emotion to show our current state of being to show our infinite faculty. In relation to literature, Shakespeare is able to xpress the positive qualities of humans through literature by writing plays to perform in front of an audience. With the inspiration of playwrights, literature was able to be more visual to humans to express their characteristics. Another famous excerpt that further show that literature improved during the Renaissance is from Leonardo Bruni’s History of His Own Times in Italy and On Learning and Literacy.
“But we must not forget that true distinction is to be gained by a wide and varied range of such studies as conduce to the profitable enjoyment of life (Doc. ). ” What Leonardo Bruni is trying to address to people is that we must know the knowledge of Latin to understand literature, but the true meaning can be learned by studies from an enjoyable life. Instead of just traditionally learning Latin just to understand literature better to improve on it, it is important to understand that people need to expand their curiosity to humanistic qualities of life and how people live it throughout their own life. Another quality that improved for both the individual and society during the Renaissance was the concept of art.
Two portraits can be used as an example to show how the art style in the Renaissance differs from past artwork. “One is from Ballini, Portrait of a Young Man and the other was painted by Raphael, called Portrait of a Young Man With an Apple (Doc. 5). ” In Ballini’s work, we see a man staring off to something to the left with a blank expression on his face. He is wearing dark clothes and there is no background behind him. In Raphael’s work however, we see a man holding an apple which rests on his other hand. He has different textured clothes on and he is looking at the painter with a bit more expression to his face.
There is also a background in this portrait. There may be some differences in both portraits, like their point of view, what they are doing in the painting, or what the background style is like, but both of these portraits have a major similarity. They both are portraits of a man, which show the concept of humanism and focus on the individual. In both portraits, there’s is a good amount of detail on the face and what the man is looking at. This is also seen in a sculpted statue called David, by Michelangelo (Doc. 7).
Michelangelo sculpted David with an excessive amount of detail from his muscular complexion to his serious expression and contrapposto stance. Renaissance artists focused more on the concept of humanism and included it into their works of art by bringing out facial features and expressions, defined human details, and used new art techniques like contrapposto and linear perspective which made Renaissance art differ greatly from past artwork, which featured less humanistic qualities standing out. A last major concept that was greatly improved during the Renaissance was political influence.
In The Rise of Modernity: Perry, Peden and Von Laue, it states that “By studying the humanities – history, literature, rhetoric, moral and political philosophy – humanists aimed to revive the worldly spirit of the ancient Greek and Romans, which they believed had been lost in the Middle Ages (Doc. 1). ” As a humanist, it was important to study history, political, and moral philosophy along with literature because it was important to follow in the footsteps of the ancient Greek and Romans which was believed to be forgotten during the middle ages.
During the Italian Renaissance, Italy Consisted of city-states which was controlled by a powerful family. Patrons financially supported the arts (T. O. C #18). ” During the Middle Ages, the Feudal System was the primary source of government in Europe. When the Renaissance first started in Italy, a new form of government formed citystates, which differed from the Feudal System because a single powerful family was in control of each city-state instead of a single king.
Patrons also supported the arts for the citizens financially, while in the Feudal System, peasants often weren’t granted as much opportunity. Political influence greatly differed in the Renaissance with the introduction into city-states. During the Renaissance, society and the individual improved greatly by a rebirth of European Literature, art focused on the individual, and positive political influence with a more balanced structure. Literature improved for both society and the individual by becoming more visual to an audience.
For example, plays were written by famous writers like William Shakespeare, which expressed emotion and humanistic expression. Art improved for both society and the individual by artists showing more humanism in their artworks. For example, in Michelangelo’s David, he sculpted using many new art techniques like a contrapposto pose and showed a muscular human build. Self portraits were also a new type of artwork that used more humanistic characteristics like strong facial expressions. Linear perspective was also another technique used to express more detail in artwork.
Political influence and government structure improved for both society and the individual because people became more aware to study ancient Greek and Roman culture to revive it into current time. The Feudal System, which was used during the Middle Ages, was replaced by Italian City-States used when the Renaissance first began, which differed because there was a single family in charge and Patrons financially supported the arts. The Renaissance was a time of rebirth not only for its literature, art, and politics, but was also a rebirth for humanistic qualities and characteristics and brought Europe into the current Modern Era.