Thursday, May 16, 2013



          Renaissance, series of literary and cultural movements in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. These movements began in Italy and eventually expanded into Germany, France, England, and other parts of Europe. Participants studied the great civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome and came to the conclusion that their own cultural achievements rivaled those of antiquity. Their thinking was also influenced by the concept of humanism, which emphasizes the worth of the individual. Renaissance humanists believed it was possible to improve human society through classical education. This education relied on teachings from ancient texts and emphasized a range of disciplines, including poetry, history, rhetoric (rules for writing influential prose or speeches), and moral philosophy.

          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, which began with the collapse of  the Roman Empire around the 5th century, became known as the Middle Ages to indicate its position  between the classical and modern world.

          Scholars now recognize that there was considerable cultural activity during the Middle Ages, as well as some interest in classical literature. A number of characteristics of Renaissance art and society had their origins in the Middle Ages. Many scholars claim that much of the cultural dynamism of the Renaissance also had its roots in medieval times and that changes were progressive rather than abrupt. Nevertheless, the Renaissance represents a change in focus and emphasis from the Middle Ages, with enough unique qualities to justify considering it as a separate period of history.

          This article begins with a brief overview of the characteristics of the Renaissance and then discusses conflicting views on how to define and interpret the Renaissance. This analysis is followed by a discussion of the economic, social, and political changes that began in the 14th century and contributed to the development of the Renaissance. The ideas of the Renaissance, particularly of humanism, are then explored, and their impacts on established religion, on science, and on the arts are examined.

          Renaissance is a French word which means re-birth, revival or re-awakening. It was a revival of ancient classical literature and culture. It was also a re-awakening of the human mind. The people revived their interest in the beauty of the human body and the world of Nature. It was rediscovery of man himself. It was a revival of the beauty of woman, the beauty of nature and the beauty of art and literature. It began in Italy in the 14th century with the works of Petrarch. The people had a deep interest in all the possibilities of human experience. They took life as a glorious adventure. About the literary spirit of the Renaissance, one can quote this line,
          “tongues in trees,  Books in running brooks,  Sermons in stone and Good  in everything.”

v Women’s status:-
          But one question always reoccurs every now and then-that is to say the consciousness of the feminists and the question of women’s status during the Renaissance. This question has been pondered over by many feminist critics down the ages, that was there anything like ‘Renaissance’ as far as women are during 15th and 16th century Joan Kelly is one of them who in her essay raised the question, “did women have a   Renaissance.” 

          She puts forwards many arguments regarding this matter. The testimony of the 15th and 16th century’s women writers is one of the elements of the complex realities of Renaissance civilization that sheds significant light on the question of,  “whether or not and if so  In what manner women   Did have a Renaissance   During the Renaissance.”

v Women’s Endeavour:-
          Many women have shown their talent in many fields and “writing” is one such field. Many women during the Renaissance in Italy or France used to write but they have always been marginalized. It’s like saying that as time has its two aspects day and night; society also has its two sections, man and woman. In a natural condition of society women’s work is done unobtrusively behind the scene. Where society has become unnatural there might usurp the province of day, and both work and frivolity are carried on by artificial light.

          The same thing happened with the Renaissance women writing, who have shown their aptitude in the field of writing but their works have been destroyed. But the works of Gaspara Stampa, Vittorria Colonna and many more are still available to us translated by many scholars. Their writings are the proof of Renaissance women’s talent and contribution, as Lonaise Labe expresses by saying that…“when the strict law of man  No longer prevent women From applying themselves to The sciences and other   Disciplines, it seems to me That those of us who can,  (should) use this long craved  Freedom to study and to  Let men see how greatlyThey wronged us when  Depriving us of its honor and advantages.”

          They are able to impart the sense of individuality and authenticity to their voices in spite of the  fact that their work incarnates much of conventional Renaissance thought. They all had unique characteristics in their writing, and in expression of thought such as cult of antiquity, the concomitant predilection for ornate expression; the use of conventional topic and forms a love of balanced and polished diction, rare words, mythological reference and ideals of ancient moral philosophy, history and letters.
          The works of 15th and 16th centuries women have not been incorporated into the main stream of literary tradition, the Renaissance fortunes of their works range from best seller’s to ‘prohibited texts’, their own fortunes range from general acclaim and literary success to rejection and even persecution and their voices belies traditional assumption concerning the homogeneity of women’s literature.

Age of Reformation:-
          The age in which these women writers were writing was an age marked by various changes, social, religious and moral, it was a period of stories replete with new opportunities of which Renaissance men and women were joyfully aware. In such an age- How did women writers of 15th and16th centuries avail themselves of these new opportunities? They have contributed unimportantly and prodigiously to Renaissance letters and that many of them enjoyed contemporary literary success. However, while many women profited greatly from the availability of the new learning. It is also evident that the full ranges of opportunities opened by the humanist movement were not available to them in the same extent as to men clearly; the social and economic mobility made possible for males through the pursuit of the professional careers was not an available option to women.

          However, literary endeavors of woman are not the result of poetic success alone. Education for some financial independence; either in the form of personal wealth, individual or institutional patronage, access to the source materials and books, some form of encouragement is also a significant import. However, there are many other women who did not have, even a sight of Renaissance… as Ruth Kelso observes,  “the training of the well born  Girl was directed in every   Respect… toward fitting her    To become a wife… marriage  Alone was held the proper   Vocation for woman mainly  Because she was fitted only to   Learn the duties that belonged  To her as a sort of junior  Partner to her husband.”

          Education was of central interest to the Renaissance humanists and their great contribution of making learning available to women cannot be denied. Theoretically, equal education was advocated for both the sexes and for all social classes. Many scholars of that time emphasized on women’s education. Erasmus was one of them who was opined that  “education should be for moral  Goals because study builds the Entire soul. It is not only a  Weapon against idealness but Also a means of impressing  The best precepts upon the   Girls mind and of eading  Her to virtue.”           Thomas Moore, similarly joins moral probity with woman’s learning, as he avers… “it is a women of eminent Virtue of mind should add Even moderate skill in Learning.”

According to Agrippa,  “education is useful for  Women in high position, but  rather dangerous to women Of less elevated birth and   In domestic sphere.”

So it is clear that we do not have women writers better than ‘man’ writers because as Laura Cereta remarks…“the true reason that   Woman are not learned is  Lack of opportunity, not  Lack of ability.”

          Gaspara Stampa, and other women writers had to face this distinction of education as the lack of opportunity to become writers. If Gaspara had not been a person having relations with aristocratic people, she would not have become a famous writer of her age.  So during that period of time noble status was indeed necessary to be a writer because of the class difference in education.

          Vittoria Colonna being a child of ‘The Colonnas’ a noble Roman family received a comprehensive humanistic education. Just like these two women writers Louise Lave also received an excellent education. That is the reason why she became an elegant original and highly accomplished writer.

          Thus one can find the typical Renaissance elements in the poems of these writers. They very keenly expressed the female situation and sensibility of the Italian Renaissance. Therefore Colonna’svery close friend Michelangelo, who wrote about her…“if your face and in your  Beautiful eyes  Full of every salvation  I aspire to all that  Heaven promises.”