Studying the literature and culture of the Renaissance has amplified my understanding of what it is to be human.
The richness of human nature that Shakespeare employs within his literature, allowed me to truly understand what it means to be human in each passing moment. Despite the highly challenging nature of reading his work, (as it takes form in a language that is totally foreign to my contemporary lingo), the study of Shakespeare has illuminated me to the depths of human nature. From the emotionally charged revelation on the ephemerality of life as presented in The Tempest, to the complex colonial relationships and impending nature of Death as expressed in his poetry, I have a broadened understanding of the human experience to arm me on my own personal journey through life.
Throughout this semester, I was forced to dig deeper into the connotations, denotations and contextual or historical references that are presented within Renaissance literature. I have expressed my findings and research into this form of literature throughout my blog posts, where it is colloquially revealed what I admire and find difficult within the realm of Shakespeare, see Blog 2. This was heightened by the number of peer reviews conducted which enabled me to further question the multifaceted ways in which Shakespeare’s language translates to others. See Peer Reviews 1, 2, 3 and 4.
Shakespeare employed characters with such insight into what it means to be human, prominently the self-reflexive characters Caliban and Oberon, which forced audiences to align themselves with characters that mirrored their respective values and attitudes. Personally, I was captivated by the colonial relationship that exists between the masters, Prospero and Oberon against their slaves Caliban and Puck. Prior to studying Shakespeare, I had read or analysed very little about types of colonial relationships. The avenue of exploring the Age of Discovery context via the plays, broadened my understanding of the complex colonial relationships as a result (see Blog 4). The creative liberty of this blog allowed me to express how I envisioned the conversation between master and slave, and thus heightened my understanding of immense emotional turmoil that existed for enslaved people in this period. I developed an element of sympathy for Caliban within my blog, as I personally believe he should not have been presented as sub-human within the play. In doing so, I stirred the notion surrounding the toxic ways humanity manifests in the control of another human being.
Undoubtedly, the characters that Shakespeare presents, make readers re-evaluate the essence of being a human, and consequently propose insight into the way’s humanity could avoid dark manifestation of human nature in favour of seeking love, respect and reconciliation. In Blog 3, I speak about the ways in which Shakespeare’s language accentuates the attitudes of the time and emphasises how Shakespeare pushed the boundaries of societal norms, which contributes to his relevance centuries on. I was also fascinated with the ability of Shakespeare to demonstrate the control, (or lack thereof) Egeus has over his daughter within the play. This scene made me contemplate and celebrate the changing role of women throughout history and provides tangible evidence for the growing equality and adapting role of women within society.
The timeless parables Shakespeare expresses within his poetry and plays, epitomise the depths of human nature in ways that have not been replicated to the extent of his accuracy. I have been engrossed (and slightly shocked with my mortality) by Shakespeare’s creative ability in exploring what it means to be human. Even at the end of the semester I am still shocked by how relevant his words in expressing what it means to be human within a different culture today. I have thoroughly enjoyed studying this unit.