What Impact Did Shakespeare Have on the Renaissance?

Shakespeare influenced the Renaissance by standardising and increasing the English language’s vocabulary, as well as developing the humanity of his characters in his plays via emotional complexity and extensive connections to Greek and Roman mythology.

His meticulous attention to language, characterisation, and storyline established a model for subsequent playwrights and other writers. Despite this, Shakespeare’s contribution to the Renaissance cannot be underestimated.

When studying Shakespeare’s historical period, it’s natural to wonder about the Renaissance’s impact on European civilization. To put it another way, how did the Renaissance alter man’s perception of the world? During Shakespeare’s time, new ways of thinking were undoubtedly tied to the arts.

The Renaissance’s Social Impact

The Renaissance originated in Italy in the 14th century and extended across Europe by the late 15th century, eventually reaching England’s coastlines. Many of the movement’s principles were represented in Renaissance art and play, and it is thought to have reached its pinnacle during the Elizabethan age in the 16th century. So, how did Renaissance ideas manifest themselves in the arts? Artists, in particular, stressed humanity and expressed love for classics such as ancient Greek writings. A greater emphasis was also placed on depicting the human shape — and experience — in a more realistic manner.

You might be wondering how William Shakespeare had such a profound impact on the Renaissance. He is, after all, just one writer. The plays of William Shakespeare contributed to Renaissance culture by emphasising the concepts of liberty and humanity. What other ways did Shakespeare have an impact on the world at the time? By incorporating themes, characters, and allusions from ancient antiquity and mythology into English drama, he helped to solidify their places in theatre history.

Outside of the Renaissance, what did William Shakespeare accomplish? Prior to Shakespeare’s time, the English language lacked the intricacy required to fully communicate depth. Shakespeare coined new words and idioms, allowing English to evolve into a far more accurate artistic tool. His utilisation of historical, tragic, and comedic genres aided in honing the focus of theatrical production. Soliloquies had been employed primarily to deliver information until Shakespeare’s plays, but Shakespeare internalised the monologues and utilised them to bring out the emotional depth of his characters.

Ironically, the Renaissance freedom that Shakespeare and other writers provided to the English theatre also led to its temporary death. After the First English Civil War, the Puritans took control of the government and outlawed all forms of theatre until the monarchy was restored in the late 17th century.

Read more: What Are the 96 Factors?

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.


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