Renaissance Essay, Research Paper
The Renaissance has been described as consisting of ?a rebirth of the human spirit, a realization of the human potential for development.? This quote, as well as the word, ?Renaissance? imply a massive change in society and tradition. Contributing to this change was 17th century poet, John Donne. His style, combined with intellectual thoughts and ideas, set the foundation for what would become known as metaphysical poetry. Donne?s style of writing was not only a significant factor in the Renaissance, but also the transition into ?The Age of Reason?. In Sonnet 10, from Holy Sonnets, he is able to contribute to the Renaissance ideal described in the preceding quote.
?A rebirth of the human spirit?,? describes a change in emotion that stems from a religious belief. Before the Renaissance, life and death were thought to be predetermined. Towards the end of the Renaissance, poets began to question parts of this belief, and as a result, the value of life came into question. In Sonnet 10, John Donne questions how powerful death is. He first challenges ?Death? as he says ?Death, be not proud, though some have called/thee/Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;? in lines one and two. Yet, in lines seven and eight, Donne declares the power of ?Death? by saying ?And soonest our best men with thee do go, /Rest of their bones, and soul?s delivery.? These two quotes contradict each other, however, the question is clear: What is the power of death?
Donne answers this question in the last line: ?And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.? However, the reader at that time had his/her own answer to find. Donne had introduced a new thought. He spoke of ?death? as a noun, yet spoke to ?Death? as a being, without relating it to God. To dissociate God and Death, and then treat Death as an entity was indeed a new idea. ?A rebirth of the human spirit? may have been the realization of the value of life, as a result of the questioning of the set belief.
??A realization of the human potential for development,? is an accurate description of the Renaissance. People were beginning to accept change in social institutions as well as in many traditional beliefs. Poets, such as John Donne, were questioning ideas that seemed to be set in stone. They were also changing the structure and style of poetry. Donne abandoned the use of organized meter and replaced it with an intellectual use of structure and ideas. For example, in Sonnet 10, he first challenges death. In line seven, he describes the power of death. Finally, Donne uses harsh words to denounce it. This became the structure for many poems. The metaphysical poets wanted their works to cause the reader to think and feel differently than they had before. In doing so, the metaphysical poets had created a major development in the collective mental growth of society.
The end of the Renaissance acted as a transition into ?The Age of Reason,? where science became as important as religious and social tradition. By accepting change as a group, the potential for people to grow became widespread and eventually, began another new era. This era led to the belief that the Earth was not the center of the universe, and that life had a value other than to prepare for death. John Donne had a great deal to do with this change.