The Renaissance: Rebirth of English Literature

Updated on: May 11, 2022

Literature is considered a mirror of life or a written record of the various salutations of society. When we talk about Literature in English, it has advanced through multiple periods. As time has progressed, various changes can be seen in Literature and Language. The English language used a long time back is practically inconceivable for an individual of the present Age.

Thus, it tends to be expressed that there are radical differences between Old English and the English used after Post Modernism. The historical backdrop of English Literature is divided into seven periods – Old English (Anglo-Saxon Period): 450–1066; Middle English Period: 1066-1500; Renaissance: 1500-1600; Neoclassical Period: 1600-1785; Romantic Period: 1785-1832; Victorian Age: 1832-1901; and Modern Period: Early 20th century.

“A generation which ignores history has no past and no future.”

The Renaissance was a time of “rebirth “in art, science, and culture and began in Italy. This period in English literary history is known as the ‘Elizabethan Period’ or the ‘Age of Shakespeare’. This Age is also considered the Golden period in the history of English Literature.

The Renaissance era replaced the darkness and haziness of the medieval ages and replaced it with the enlightenment of the human mind with the ‘Revival of Learning’.

Moreover, the Renaissance utilized five significant themes: Humanism, Secularism, Individualism, Rationalism, and Virtues.

The principal characteristic of this Renaissance Age is to focus on the aspect of Humanity. This Age gives more value to subjectivity rather than objectivity.

The Renaissance movement started in Italy by Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch, and later it became popular in Europe during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Besides focusing on the ‘study of mankind’, Renaissance had various subordinate patterns, which were the significant aspects of Humanism.

These patterns are the reconstruction of classical antiquity, particularly of ancient Greece, the external universe and its importance for man, problems of humankind, and the cultivation of aesthetics.

During the Renaissance Period, the major accomplishment in English writing was ‘Drama’. The writers of this Age re-discovered and re-constructed ancient Greek Literature. Instead of seeking any outer guidance from the higher authority of the world (God), the writers of the Renaissance period found direction from within.

The essential dramatists of this golden period are William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Johnson, Lyly, George Peele, Thomas Kyd, Robert Greene, etc.

The themes and characters of the Drama produced in this era differed from the previous ages. The period saw numerous new forms of writing as well. The Caxton printing press greatly influenced the literacy and knowledge of the Renaissance period.

Poetry in the Renaissance period took a new shape. It was the poetry of the new passion, enthusiasm, and excitement. The Renaissance Period is also considered the ‘Age of Flourishment.’ The people of England accepted and admired the freshness of the Renaissance Period, and the poetry in this era also reflected the same sentiments.

The poetry of the Elizabethan Age started with the publication of a volume known as Tottel’s Miscellany (1577). The new prominence of the political system can be traced in the works of the greatest writer of the era, William Shakespeare.

This period witnessed the end of the Feudal system and tried to establish a central government to benefit the common masses. The Renaissance period endured just 100 years, enveloping ground-breaking changes. The English Renaissance radically formed what being English implied.

SGT University established the Faculty of Mass Communication and Media Technology (FMMT) to meet the demands of an increasing job market in the media industry in India and abroad. The faculty is well equipped to train students in the art of filmmaking, television and radio production, digital and print journalism. Today, the Faculty of Mass Communication and Media Technology has become one of the best colleges in Delhi NCR for Journalism and Mass Communication courses.

Dr. Anshika
Assistant Professor
Centre Languages and Communication,
Faculty of Mass Communication & Media Technology,
SGT University


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