Hamlet Humanist Ideals

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The European Renaissance and Reformation was a pivotal time in history; numerous artists and thinkers from that time had created a new set of ideals that shaped the works of playwrights and poets. The new set of ideals were created by Humanist philosophers and were vastly different from the Medieval and Deterministic ideals that were previously popular. Medieval and Deterministic ideals coincided with the ideas that man was the scum of the Earth and that man would never amount to anything. Man was the lowest of the low. Pope Innocent III went as far as to say, in On the Misery of the Human Condition, that “For sure man was formed out of earth, conceived in guilt, born to punishment. What her does is depraved and illicit, is shameful and improper, …show more content…
One ideal shown was the idea that man is equal to God. In Act II Scene II Hamlet is talking to his friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and goes on to say “What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god!”(page 50, lines 319-321), Hamlet’s amazement with man coincides perfectly with Pico della Mirandola’s, and other Humanist thinkers, ideal that man is an equal to God. Man is no longer considered the scum of the Earth, man is now praised and compared to angels and gods. Hamlet is not the only play in which Shakespeare reflects upon the idea that man is equal to gods. In Julius Caesar Shakespeare has Cassius call Caesar a god numerous times, for example on Act I Scene II Cassius states about Caesar “...and this man is now become a god...” and later “how he did shake: ‘t is true, this god did shake...” Caesar is just another mortal man but he had achieved greatness, which in turn put him on the same level as gods. Shakespeare reflects upon that ideal of equality between man and God throughout Hamlet, but he also address other Humanist ideals, such as that man has the potential to control his future and that he can attain perfection, in his other

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