Elements of Religion in the Renaissance Portrayed in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

747 Words3 Pages
Elements of Religion in the Renaissance Portrayed in Hamlet by William Shakespeare Literature of the Renaissance was far different from that of the previous eras. Man was now thought of as the center of life, as opposed to God being the center in earlier times. Also, man was thought to have free will over his life, not being simply a pawn of the Gods. These new ideals were presented in the theaters as well as written literature. The esteemed William Shakespeare incorporated many of these components into some of the greatest performed classics in the history of theater. Shakespeare’s Hamlet contains elements that are derived from the Renaissance way of thinking and influenced from it’s earlier writers. The play continuously incorporates themes of free will of man in controlling his destiny. This is ever present throughout the play as Hamlet contemplates each of his actions. Some look at this as cowardice or procrastination, but his deliberation is clearly recognized as his choosing of his own fate. In previous eras, man came across as being locked into one action, without a choice of what to do. In Act I Scene IV, Hamlet provides three possible answers to the cause of evil. The first is an inherited fault: “As, in their birth- wherein they are not guilty”, which does not involve human responsibility. Another claims the individual as being a victim of fate: “Fortune’s Star.” If that were the answer in Hamlet, then the play could not be classified as a Renaissance tragedy, but one based on the Medieval theory that individuals have no c... ... middle of paper ... ...hing into account, he will find some of the things that appear to be virtues will, if he practices them, ruin him, and some of the things that appear to be wicked will bring him security and prosperity.” These Machiavellian concepts are clearly defined by Claudius as he first kills his brother to claim the throne, later sends his nephew Hamlet to be executed in England, and finally, inadvertantly causes his wife’s demise from another plot to kill Hamlet. The themes and ideas used in Hamlet are clearly seen as that of the Renaissance thinking. Shakespeare’s use of notions first brought on by early Renaissance writers shows his ability to incorporate modern thought in drama. This modern thinking combined with old ideals characterized what the Renaissance was all about.

More about Elements of Religion in the Renaissance Portrayed in Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Open Document