Age of the Baroque Essay Summary

Age of the Baroque Essay Summary


The word Renaissance means “rebirth”.  The idea of rebirth originated in the belief that Europeans had rediscovered the superiority of Greek and Roman culture after many centuries of what they considered intellectual and cultural decline.  The preceding era became known as the Middle Ages to indicate its position between the classical and modern world.  The Renaissance represents a change in focus and emphasis from the Middle Ages.  Philosophy in the Renaissance changed the way people looked at humanity, the Roman Catholic Church, and their lives.

Before the Renaissance, the paradigm was to be humble, chaste, and obedient.  However, with the start of the Renaissance, the paradigm shifts to wit, subversion, and sophistication.  People began to look at themselves and see more than subservient humans.  The Roman Catholic Church was at its height in 1300 A.D.  This was about the time that the Renaissance started.  During the Renaissance, the people grew tired of the strictness and controlling nature of the Church.


They decided it was time to have fewer rules and more fun.  Instead of focusing their time on one subject, they decided to be a more “well-rounded” individual, which knowledge in many different areas.  Writers had a great deal of influence on the Renaissance movement and the people in it.

Which brings us to one of the most influential writers of all times, William Shakespeare. One of the greatest struggles Hamlet has through the whole drama, is his indecision about what he should do.  That was what was driving him mad.  He was fighting with his character.  To let things remain as they are or to try to change them.  As in life, sometimes we find it easier to just go with the status quo and not rock the boat.  Or we come face to face with the situation in our lives that require us the make decisions that affect the rest of our lives.

In the beginning, Hamlet had many opportunities to avenge his father’s death but just killing his King/Uncle.  But Hamlet wanted more than his death, he wanted a confession, he wanted the King to feel some remorse and the Queen, for their actions.  That’s a major problem throughout mankind, we can’t make anyone feel anything.  Just because our morals and standards influence our conscience, that doesn’t mean anyone else has the same standard.  Part of the Renaissance ideals was to break away from the old ways.

Hamlet could not be humble and just follow the examples of the King and Queen.  I believe he might have had he not seen the ghostly image of his father.  I think prior to his experience, he might have just accepted the arrangement and found a way to deal with feelings of mistrust he had for his Uncle.  But after talking to his father’s image, he felt forced to avenge his father’s death.  And who’s to really say he saw a ghost, that it wasn’t just his own grief that convinced him of the murder.  It was obvious he loved his father and mother greatly.  Maybe his confusion of reality was really what was driving him mad.

The Renaissance also persuaded his thinking.  By encouraging people to be their own thinkers, Hamlet was less likely to accept.  He was inclined to find out for his self.  To develop his own idea and thoughts and to act on them.  Hamlet, at any time, could have avenged his father’s death by killing the King, but he needed more.  Which an aspect of his character that many of us have.  The need for confession.  Hamlet needed to hear the King and Queen confess their sins.  He needed to hear that King murdered his father to covet his father’s wife.  If he had just killed the King, he would have been no better than the King.  But with a confession, he was justified in revenge for his father’s death.

The part I really didn’t get was why he was so mean to Ophelia.  What had she done to invite him to call her names and tell all the things he had said to her were lies?  Was he so hurt by the death of his father and confused by the fact that his mother had remarried so quickly, that he didn’t want to get hurt himself?  He reacts so angrily when his mother remarries, like a child.  No one can but time on grief.  Everyone has to experience it for themselves.

Obviously, Hamlet was still grieving and felt it dishonored his father by her falling in love so quickly.  He made several comments to her about how he felt her loved had faded too soon and she had somehow disgraced the marriage by moving on so soon.  Like a lot of people, we don’t want to hurt so we replace it with immediate gratification.  Shakespeare draws us into Hamlet’s character by showing us both sides to the hurt.

We want him to avenge his father’s death, but we know that satisfaction is not going to replace his father.  We know why he is acting crazy and so does the King.  A denial is also a tool Shakespeare used.  The king denying any wrongful actions.  The Queen, denying her pain and the murder of her husband.  Polonius, denying the love his daughter and Hamlet felt.

Shakespeare creates a very climactic scene with the play performed for the King and Queen.  The answer Hamlet was searching for was right there and I think he knows it, he just needed to King to admit it.  The play scene brought many things into the open.  The Queen finally got an idea of what was wrong with Hamlet, even though they all dismissed it as he was crazy.  I read a few excerpts of the play and am amazed at the writing of Shakespeare.  Over the years I’ve seen the movies and understood the basics of the story, but never really understood the writing.

In fact, I thought it was unnecessary to write in that kind of lyrical way.  I never understood his choice of words, why did he make it so complicated.  But now that I’m older, I get a much better feel for it.  It’s funny to me how many words mean the same thing, but how you use specific words makes the difference.  His word choices are so deep and thought to provoke.  I truly understand the deeper meaning to them.  Shakespeare is a master writer.  It’s amazing how he tapped into human nature on such a basic level.


Many of his plays cover topics that humans all deal with still today.  Revenge, love, anger, jealousy, many emotions that are hard to put into words.  Does Shakespeare suggest that the individual can make a difference?  That depends on what kind of difference you want to make.  Did Hamlet’s actions and anger make a difference?  Yes, it changed many lives around him. One man’s path crossed with the destiny of others and all were changed.





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