The Renaissance

英 国 文 学
English Literature
主讲 教师:田祥斌
English Literature
Renaissance and
Lecture IV The Renaissance
I. Historical Background
II. English Literature
1. Thomas More (1478-1535)
2. Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)
3. Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
4. Christopher Marlowe (1564-1595)
5. William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
6. Ben Jonson (1572-1637)
I. Historical Background
I.1 History (1400-1550)
The century and a half following the death of
Chaucer (1400-1550) was full of significant
I.1.1 The Hundred Year’s War with France
I.1.2 The War of the Roses (1455-1483)
I.1.3 The New Monarchy was formed in England
(Henry VII, 1485-1509)
I.1.4 The discovery of America and the
new sea routes (1497-98)
 I.2 16th century
 I.2.1 The Enclosure Movement (16th
 I.2.2 The Religious Reformation(1509-1547)
reform of the Roman Catholic church,
which resulted in the establishment of
Protestant church in England. HenryVIII
(reigned from 1509 to 1547) broke off with
the Pope and proclaimed himself head of
the Church of England.
Absolute monarchy (君主专制政体)
 in England reached its summit during the
reign of Queen Elizabeth (The Elizabethan
Age 1558-1603).
I.2.3 The Renaissance
 The Renaissance: The rise of the
bourgeoisie soon resulted in an intellectual
movement known as the Renaissance, or the
rebirth of letters. It sprang first in Italy in
the 14th century and gradually spread all
over Europe, which reached England slowly
in the latter half of the 14th century. Two
features are striking of this movement. The
one is a thirsting curiosity for classical
literature. Old manuscripts were dug out.
There arose a current for the study of
Greek and Latin authors. Another feature of the
Renaissance is the keen interest in human activities.
People ceased to look upon themselves as living
only for God and a future world. Thinkers, artists
and poets arose to the new feeling of admiration for
human beauty and human achievement. Hence arose
the thought of Humanism.
Humanism is the keynote of the Renaissance.
Humanism reflected the new outlook of the rising
bourgeois class. The greatest of the English
humanists was Thomas More, the author of Utopia.
The Renaissance is the period of Europe
between the 14th and 17th centuries, when
the art, literature, and ideas of ancient
Greece were discovered again and widely
studied, causing a rebirth of activity in all
these things. (Longman Dic)
 The Renaissance is the revival of art and
literature in the 14th, 15th and 16th
centuries, based on classical forms. (Oxford
The Renaissance was a new growth of
interest and activity in the areas of art,
literature and ideas in Europe, esp. in Italy,
during the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.
 (Cambridge Dic.)
 Humanism: a belief system based on the
principle that people’s spiritual and
emotional needs can be fulfilled without
following a religion.
II. English Literature
1. Thomas More (1478-1535)
II.1.1 His position: The greatest of the
English humanists; “giants” of the
Renaissance; a farsighted thinker; one of the
forerunners of modern socialist thought
 II.1.2 His masterpiece: Utopia
 Genre:humanist essay
 Author: Thomas More
 Time: about 16th century
Place: in England, Utopia
 Main Characters: Thomas More, Hythloday
 Utopia (1516): no place, nowhere
 a conversation: between More and
Hythloday, a returned voyager
 Book One: contains a long discussion on
the social conditions of England and shows
us a realistic picture of early 16th century
Book Two: describes in detail an ideal
communist society, the first sketch of an
ideal commonwealth, where property is
held in common and there is no poverty.
Thomas Wyatt
 The first great
Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)
2. Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)
II.2.1 His life: He was born in a minor noble
family, his father being a merchant in London. He
once received a good education at Pembroke
College, Cambridge. In 1599, he died in London
and buried beside Chaucer in Westminster Abbey.
 II.2.2 His major works:
The Shepherd’s Calendar (1597). The poem
established his reputation as an important poet.
Masterpiece: The Faerie Queene (1589, 1596)
The Fairy Queen
 Genre:Poetry
 Author: Edmund Spenser
 Type: Narrative Poem
 Time: Arthur’s Age
 Place: in England
 Main Characters: the Fairy Queen
signifying Queen Elizabeth;
 the Redcross Knight
 Plot and theme:
 12 books were to describe the 12 adventures
(only finished 6). Each knight represents a
virtue, as Holiness, Chastity, Friendship,
Justice and Courtesy. It is written in a 9-line
stanza form, named Spenserian Stanza.
Spenserian Stanza (斯宾塞诗体) :
A nine-line stanza consisting of eight lines
of iambic pentameter and a concluding line
of iambic hexameter, rhyming
ABABBCBCC _ named after English poet
Edmund Spenser.
 II.2.3 Characteristics of Spenser’s poetry
 1) a perfect melody
 2) a rare sense of beauty
 3) a splendid imagination
 4) a lofty moral purity and seriousness
 5) a dedicated idealism.
II.2.4 His position: He is known as “the
poet’s poet” because of his idealism, his
love of beauty and his exquisite melody. He
has held his position as a model of poetical
art, among the Renaissance English poets.
Spenserian Stanza influenced Shelley,
Byron, Keats, Tennyson.
Spenserian Stanza
A 'gentle 'Knight was 'pricking 'on the 'plaine,
Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde,
Where'in old 'dints of 'deepe wounds 'did re'maine,
The crell markes of many a bloudy fielde;
Yet armes till that time did he never wield;
His angry steede did chide his foming bitt,
As much disdayning to the curbe to yield;
Full jolly knight he seemed, and faire did sitt,
As 'one for 'knightly 'giusts and 'fierce en'counters 'fitt.
The Fairy Queen is also an allegory; the
heroes of the several books represent the
virtues portrayed in those books.
– A story with a double meaning: a primary or
surface meaning, and a secondary or underthe-surface meaning
– A story that can be read, understood and
interpreted at two levels
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
3.Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
A. His life
 1. Associated with the court for his family
connections, the boy early won the favor of
the Queen.
 2. He went to Trinity College, Cambridge
University at 12 .
 3. He distinguished himself as a scholar in
several fields and as a scientist, writer, and
philosopher. His practical experience of the
world also made him a great lawyer and a
considerable statesman.
B. His masterpiece
The Advancement of Learning, 1605 《学术的
 The Novum Organum 《新工具》(The New
 The New Atlantica 《新大西洋岛》(The New
 Essays 《论说文集》
C. His position
 1.
Bacon was an important scientist and
philosopher of his time.
1) He is the founder of English materialist
philosophy (唯物哲学).
2) Bacon is the founder of modern science in
2. He is the first English essayist.
 Alexander Pope called him, “the wisest, brightest,
and the meanest of mankind”, while Ben Johnson
declared him to be “one of the greatest man and
most worthy of admiration that had been in many
Questions for Of Studies
 1.
What are the three uses of studies?
2. What are the three abuses of studies?
 3.
What is the way to remedy the abuses?
 4.
What instruction does the author give
to the reader as to how to read and study?
 5.
What natural abilities should men
have if they don’t study as the author states
6. What are the remedies the writer gives
the reader for them to get rid of the
hindrance and obstacles in their studies and
cure the mind?
 7.
What is the function of the concluding
 8.
Which sentence reveals the theme of
this writing?
Writing Style
1. aphorism (格言警句best-known sayings )
2. compact and precise in style (文笔简练)
3. clear and forceful in expression (表达明白畅
4. profound in thoughts( Suggestiveness,思想深邃,
具有 启发性)
5. The sentences are short with more
parallelisms and metaphors.
6. Closeness of arguments (论证严密)
Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)
1. Life and career
The corner of Old Court of
Corpus Christi College,
Cambridge, where Marlowe
stayed during his studies.
4. Christopher Marlowe (1564 __
II.4.1 His position
 a. He is the most gifted of the "University
Wits", dramatist.
 b. He was the greatest of the pioneers of
English drama. It is Marlowe who first
made blank verse the principal instrument
achievement lies chiefly in his epical, and at
times lyrical, verse.
c. His works paved the way for the plays of
the greatest English dramatist _
 II.4.2 His major works
 Masterpiece:
Tamburlaine the Great《帖木儿》1587
The Jaw of Malta《 马 尔 他 岛 的 犹 太 人 》
Doctor Faustus《浮士德博士的悲剧》(The
Tragical History of Doctor Faustus.) 1588
University Wits: The name given to a group of
English poets and playwrights who established
themselves in London in the 1580s and 1590s after
attending university at either Oxford or Cambridge.
The most important member of the group was
Christopher Marlowe, whose powerful blankverse plays paved the way for Shakespeare. Others
included George Peele, Robert Greene, Thomas
Nashe, John Lyly, and Thomas Lodge. They were
all of humble birth and struggle for a livelihood by
 5.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
II.5.1 His Life
 Shakespeare was born in Stratford-UponAvon, in central England. His father, John
Shakespeare, was a merchant. His mother,
was the daughter of a well-to-do farmer. At
the age of 7, he attended the local grammar
school and for six years and learned Latin
and a little Greek. When he was 14, his
father fell into debt, the boy probably left
schools, and went to work. At 18 he married
Anne Hathaway, who was eight years senior
and they had three children.
Shakespearean House
II.5.2 His position:
 1) Shakespeare is one of the founders of
realism in world literature.
 2)"He is the greatest playwright all over the
world, not of an age, but for all the time"
(by Ben Jonson). He is also a great poet.
Apart from his sonnets and long poems, his
dramas are poetry. They are rich in images,
conceit, metaphors and symbols.
3) Shakespeare's humanism: he reflects the
spirit of his age.
 4) Shakespeare's characterization.
 5) Shakespeare is the master of the English
II.5.3 His works
 38 plays, 2 long narrative poems, 154
 II.5.4 Three Periods (or four periods):
Shakespeare's works can be divided into
three periods:
 The first period is from 1590 to 1600. In
this period, he completed most of his
comedies, historical plays, 2 long narrative
poems and most of sonnets. Among the
outstanding comedies The Merchant of
Venice is the best. Other famous comedies
are Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's
Dream, As You Like It. The most famous
historical play is “Henry IV”.
 The second period (1601-1608) is his
Period of Tragedies, years of greater
achievement. It contains a series of
tragedies headed by the famous "Hamlet".
These plays reflect the social contradiction
of the age (Othello, Macbeth, King Lear).
The third period (1609 -1612), in which
there are three comedies and a minor
historical play.
The Tempest is the best in this period.
(Cymbeline 1609; Winter's Tale, 1610; The
Tempest, 1612)
II.5.5 The heroines
 Three ideal women of the Renaissance and
humanism: Portia, Rosalind (in As You Like It),
Julia (in The Two Gentlemen of Verona).
Shakespeare's heroines are of a new type. They are
witty, bold, loving, optimistic and faithful. They are
happy and make others happy. They are the daughters
of the Renaissance.
 Romeo and Juliet are images of true love, symbols of
faithfulness. They are the children of the Renaissance.
II.5.6 Never-to-be forgotten characters: Falstaff; Iago,
Desdemona; Shylock; Hamlet; Lear; Macbeth…
 1)The Image of Sir John Falstaff
 He is one of the most brilliant creations in
Shakespeare's plays. He is a very complicated character.
Falstaff is selfish, treacherous and cynical.
He does not hesitate to seek profit whenever
there is a chance.
 Falstaff comes to the battlefield without
illusions. He is practical. Honour is a word.
Queen Elizabeth was so amused by John
Falstaff in "Henry IV" that she ordered
Shakespeare to write another play about
him. Therefore, Shakespeare wrote his
comedy "The Merry Wives of Windsor". In
this play, he has been made an ass punished
three times, two by the wives of two
Windsor townsmen, one by the husbands.
 He is only a social parasite, moving about
with a big belly, eating, drinking and doing
(2)The Image of Othello
 Othello is a new man of the Renaissance.
He is a splendid Moorish general in the
service of Venice. He loves Desdemona
because she has fine qualities, together with
her youth and beauty. They live happily
together. But Iago weaves a devilish plot to
wreck their love and life. Othello is a
tragedy of humanism. He is also a tragedy
caused by racial prejudice.(He is black)
How to enjoy drama.
Climax (Turning point)
↗ ↘
Falling action
↘ Resolution
II.5.7 Hamlet
 Author: William Shakespeare
 Type: tragedy
 Place: in Denmark
 Main Characters: Hamlet, Prince of
Denmark; Claudius, the dead king’s brother
 Queen Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother.
 The selection is Hamlet’s soliloquy. The
whole soliloquy is written in blank verse.
Soliloquy (独白)
A dramatic convention in which a character,
alone on stage, speaks aloud and thus shares
his or her thoughts with the audience.
Or: An act of talking to oneself alone, esp.
A speech in a play in which a character’s
private thoughts are spoken to those
watching the play. (Longman)
Blank Verse:
A line of poetry or prose in unrhymed
iambic pentameter.
It is a verse without rhymes, usually in lines
of iambic pentameter. Used by Marlowe,
Shakespeare, Milton and many other poets,
this is the most characteristic English form.
Plot: This is the story of murder and
 Theme:He condemned the hypocrisy and
treachery and general corruption at the
royal court, the poet created a man of the
Renaissance with humanist ideals who not
only sought revenge for his murdered father
but aimed to reform the whole society with
its many evils.
The Character of Hamlet
 1)He is a prince loved and respected by
 Ophelia says:
 Hamlet is “The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's,
eye, tongue, sword, The expectancy and
rose of the fair state. The glass of fashion
and the mould of form, The observed of all
2) Hamlet is one of the several Renaissance
 “What a piece of work is man; how noble
in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form
and moving how express and admirable! In
action how like an angel! In apprehension
how like a god! The beauty of the world!
the paragon of animals”
 3) He loves good and hates evil.
 4) His intellectual genius is outstanding.
 His image reflects the versatility of the men
 of the Renaissance.
4. Hamlet's Melancholy (忧郁)
 Some critics influenced by Freudian view
consider that Hamlet is the victim of an
Oedipus Complex.
 Some critics think that revenge is easy, but
it is not only personal revenge that Hamlet
seeks. What is more important is to expose
the roots of the evil and to establish a reign
of justice.
II.5.8 Sonnets
 ---The sonnet is a poem of 14 lines of iambic
pentameter with rigid rime-scheme abab cdcd
efef gg (Shakespearean sonnet)
 ---Sonnet is a lyric poem of 14 lines which follows
a fixed rhyme scheme. It's written in iambic
pentameter. The two basic types of sonnets are
the Italian (or ) Petrarchan and the Shakespearian
(or English) sonnets.
 Two types of sonnets: the Petrarchan (Italian)
sonnet and the Shakespearean (English) sonnet.
Octet ----b
quatrain ----a
quatrain ----c
Sestet ----c
quatrain ----e
couplet ----g
II.5.9 The Merchant of Venice (1596-7)
 Author: William Shakespeare
 Type: Comedy;Romantic Comedy
 Place: Italy
 Main Characters:Shylock, a money-lender,
a usurer; Antonio, a Christian merchant;
Bassanio, a young man who is the dear
friend of Antonio; Portia, a beautiful girl
who is the heroine.
 Antonio and Shylock,
 merciful Portia and heartless Shylock (two
central characters)
 the Duke and Shylock,
 Bassanio and Shylock,
 Gratiano and Shylock,
 Bassanio and his personal responsibility,
 Bassanio and his ring.
This scene can be divided into four parts
1. Shylock's coldness and cruelty before the Duke
and Bassanio;
2. Portia tries to persuade the Jew to show mercy
to Antonio, but Shylock remains indifferent;
 3. Portia uses her quick wit to save Antonio's life.
 4. The problem of whether Bassanio should
reward the lawyer with his precious ring. (The
play returns to romantic comedy.)
The theme: The central theme of the play is
obviously the triumph of love and
friendship over greed and brutality, good
over evil, and humanity over inhumanity.
The playwright praises the friendship
between Antonio and Bassanio and
idealizes Portia as a heroine of great beauty,
wit and loyalty. The author condemns the
usurer Shylock.
Major Themes
– Traditional: To praise the friendship between
Antonio and Bassanio, to idealize Portia as a
heroine of great beauty, wit and loyalty to her
husband, to expose the greediness of the Jew
– Modern: To satirize the Christians’ hypocrisy and
their false standards of friendship, love, kindness,
and their cunning ways of pursuing worldliness; to
expose the unreasoning prejudice of the Christians
against the Jew
Other Themes
– (1) Love and Wealth
– (2) Mercy Vs. Revenge
– (3) Harmony
– (4) Friendship
General Character Analysis
 1. Shylock
 a Jewish moneylender;
 a revengeful Jew;
 a merciless villain and also a comic butt;
 a greedy usurer;
 a tragic victim of Christian cruelty.
2. Portia
Portia embodies the best qualities of
Shakespeare's ideal of the new women __a
daughter of the Renaissance. (beauty, wit,
intellect, virtue, charity)
 She is charming, intelligent, merciful and
virtuous. She is honorable, but she
remains a playful and tender wife.
3. Antonio
Antonio is the merchant, who is a rich
and highly respected citizen in Venice,
possessed of many friends.
By nature, he is a melancholy man, a
silent and reflective gentleman who values
friendship more than anything in the world.
4. Bassanio
Bassanio is a friend to Antonio and later
husband to Portia, who is also a noble,
generous, and honorable young man.
E. Questions
 1. Is Shylock cruel? If so, what develops his
 2. What do you think of Portia?
 3. How does Portia perform to push the
conflicts to climax?
 4 What is the theme of the play?
II.5.10 Shakespeare’s Major Ideas
1. Humanistic ideas
He is against religious persecution and
racial discrimination.
He is against social inequality and the
corrupting influence of gold and money.
He finds no way to solve the social
problems. At last, what he can only do is to
escape from the society to seek comfort in
his dream.
6 Ben Jonson (1572--1637)dramtist
1. His life and position
 1) He never attended a university.
 2) "Rare Ben Jonson”
 He was known as "Rare Ben Jonson", a
quarrelsome man, but fearless and honest.
He has left plays, poems and prose. Ben
Jonson is a collection of notes and ideas on
various subjects.
3) He is the father of English literary criticism.
Jonson says that a critic ought to judge a
work as a whole, and that the critic himself
must have some poetic abilities.
 A play should be realistic, showing “an
image of the times”.
His critical ideas are not limited to this
book, but appear elsewhere. Masterpiece:
Volpone (1605-6, printed 1607)