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.
Despite the vast differences, our time has compared to the time of the English Renaissance, the latter still has still given an impact on the former in several different ways.
One way is the subject that English Renaissance works touched upon. Despite the initial complications of iambic pentameter, diving deeper, Shakespeare’s works actually have a very deep insight of human psychology and the mind. Though he does not blatantly say “This character has this trait because of this reason”, that is part of why his writing is so effective: because people themselves are complex beings who do not and most likely would not want, to share how they are truly feeling and what possible dark desire drives them to do what they do.
This is established in Shakespeare’s play, Richard III, where though we are presented a monstrous figure in the titular Richard, his knack for violence and misogyny is hinted many times to be stemmed from his deep desires and craving to be loved – something that his own mother deprived him of due to a condition he himself cannot help. Also, in Raleigh’s Conclusion to his The History of the World, he rightfully points out about how people tended to hide their true, ugly colours behind beautiful facades.
This adds to my other point of how the art and expression of the English Renaissance still makes an impact even today. The works that were created by great names of the time of not just Shakespeare but also Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson, tend to have rather important lessons that are all the more noteworthy for today’s circumstances. Shakespeare’s Richard III spoke about the atrocities of people with power as seen with the titular character, but his character of the Fool who is present in King Lear and Twelfth Night is another highlight of this point. The Fool is meant to be an entertainer yet the words that are strung by him have disturbingly honest and compositions of how the world is filled with insanity so insane that people think it is no longer insane until you become what they think is insane (King Lear), and how words are cheap and can be taken out of context (Twelfth Night).
Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest also presents the point of nature vs. nurture and whether one is better than the other or if we just need a balance and compromise between the two. This is seen with the scholarly Prospero (nurture) and his interactions with the native Caliban (nature). Despite Caliban’s antagonism, it is debatable whether he is justified in his anger and tension towards Prospero since the latter did come to his home and Prospero does show not only a controlled manner but also a need to control.
Likewise, in Marlowe’s play, Doctor Faustus, we have a cautionary tale of how humanism and a dangerous thirst for the knowledge of things that are better off not knowing about, result in the demise of the titular character. Jonson’s Volpone is also a cautionary tale but is disguised as a comedy where the titular character, Volpone, after all his scheming and deceit, finally gets his comeuppance at the end of the play. It is a very needed tale for today since it deals with greed especially considering our present time’s increasing value for materialistic needs and consumerism. Raleigh’s Conclusion to his The History of the World also deserves another mention on again, no matter how much you try to hide behind a pretty mask, it is fake and death will not care for that glittering mask or your riches and achievements.
It is a shame that nowadays not many people try to look deeply into Shakespeare’s works or the works of the English Renaissance. The reason being that they actually dive really deep into aspects of the human mind and the world that are needed for today since time shows people still suffer from corruption, greed, and arrogance. Regardless, to those that did choose to take that dive have definitely been impacted by its lessons, flowing language and all around wit and even tragedy that they portray. And as long as there are people who appreciate and acknowledge those works, they can still continue to bring an impact, even for years to come.