How does Shakespeare's plays reflect the Renaissance?

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Answered by: Amber, An Expert in the The Legacy of Shakespeare Category
The Renaissance was a time of re-birth and awakening in Europe. Literature was starting to grow and change. The Middle Ages were very restricted in what they believed and what their art and literature was about; which was about God’s absolute power; an idea that the Catholic church constantly reinforced. However, once the Renaissance era started, no longer was the literature was very restrictive and mostly about the absolute power of God. Now literature was questioning man kind’s relationship to God. The Renaissance movement was based on creativity, culture, and Education of Greece and Rome.

Although Shakespeare himself was not born until towards the end of the Renaissance, he was one of the first to bring the core values of the era to life, and he did so through his plays. Unlike the two-dimensional and simple characters of the pre-renaissance era, Shakespeare created more complex and well rounded characters that were more believable. He was able to bring hundreds of different characters to life that were all believable and yet different from each other. This aspect was truly able to represent the diversity of humanity. Along with these characters he brought new emotional realism and real depth to his plays. Even though his plays are centuries old, people can still identify with his characters, through their desires and short comings, and still have compassion with the characters dilemmas.

Shakespeare's plays left just as big a mark on the Renaissance as the Renaissance left on his work. Shakespeare's plays in the Renaissance left an unforgettable mark on this era and the world, because of his use of complex characterization, and his use of rich language in his plays. An example of this can also be seen in Hamlet. First, Hamlet is an immensely complex character whose character is so complex that no other character in the play is fully able to understand him. Shakespeare’s used emotional realism and deepness in his plays, as well created rounded characters. Hamlet character is another good example of how Shakespeare uses such rich language in his plays, through Hamlet “To be or Not to Be,” soliloquy.

Shakespeare's Plays in the Renaissance also reflected the era in the way he presented his comedies. Although the modern meaning of comedy means funny, during the Renaissance it meant that the story has a happy ending. Like in many of Shakespeare’s plays, such as Twelfth Night where it ends with a dance or Much Ado About Nothing where the play ends with a double wedding. Although this two plays are humorous as well, not all comedies have to be funny during this time. Frequently Shakespeare would set up his plays, where they had the potential to be funny, where the characters in his comedies were often embarrassing themselves.

The distinctiveness of his comedies assisted in the growth of the Renaissance era and rebirth of literature and entertainment during this era. Shakespeare’s plays beyond any doubt reflects the important aspects of the Renaissance era, and helped to take it even further.

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