Shakespeare and the Renaissance – Summative Entry.

After the very first class at the beginning of the semester I commented to MG that I was nervous and hesitant about studying Shakespeare. Deep down, I was scared that the language would be a hurdle to my understanding his work. MG reassured me that I would be fine and that he too, at one time, struggled to understand Shakespeare and that I would come to appreciate his work.  I have come to realise as we near the end of our class, that through Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, along with works by his contemporaries, studying the literature and culture of the Renaissance has amplified my understanding of what it is to be human.

The Renaissance is defined as a period of time when human expression was reaching its full potential, and Shakespeare’s body of work was and still remains, one of the most important movements towards of freedom of thought that came from this pivotal period in human history. Shakespeare influenced the age in which he lived, as much as it influenced him. Shakespeare explored the complexity of human emotions in his plays.  Issues such as loyalty, ambition, love, honour and the conflict that humans feel inside are explored in his work.  From our study, I have come understand that Shakespeare had an ability to understand humans from the inside out.  He understood that we humans base our decisions on emotions and intuition more so that than logic or reason.  It is through his storytelling that Shakespeare allows us to understand a characters motivation and thought process, which then enables us to understand our own.

Through the course of the semester, I have grown to appreciate Shakespeare more than I did before. I have come to view him as a compassionate writer, allowing us an insight to his moral compass. Shakespeare recognises what it means to be downtrodden, what it means to suffer and the importance of mercy, especially in people with power.  In his last play, The Tempest, Shakespeare writes “the rarer the action is/In virtue than in vengeance”. I would like to think these are his parting words to his audience.  It is better to forgive than to hate your enemy. Forgiveness is for our own growth and happiness.  Perhaps one of the most important reasons why we still study Shakespeare is that he shows us that we need to stand for what is right. More than 400 years after his death, it would be interesting to see how Shakespeare would react to the current state of the world.

Once last thing. I read somewhere that in his will, Shakespeare bequeathed his “second-best bed” to his wife, Anne Hathaway. Who got the best bed then?!

Google Images

Peer Review – Clemente Student



Hi Jenny,

What a wonderful entry! I am glad your first visit to the Art Gallery was with Michael. One of my favourite parts of studying literature with Michael is our visits to the Gallery, where we get to connect the work we are reading and studying with other artists and art forms. It’s great how literature and visual art are so connected.

I enjoyed reading your family story regarding the young honeymooners who were held up by bushrangers. I can see why you responded to Robert’s painting so much. What a powerful personal connection, I thank you for sharing this with us. I am left wondering if it was indeed the Kelly Gang they encountered. Much like the bushranger, I hope your relatives did indeed have a long and happy life.

From what I remember, Roberts’ mixture of naturalism and symbolism wasn’t appreciated on its first showing, but I feel it captures the unique Australian `she’ll be right, mate’ attitude that we have come to celebrate. It seems that those being held up are quite calm and almost accepting of the robbery. As you write in your blog, it appears the passengers are having a good ole chat to the bandits!

Your analysis of Robert’s painting technique is very insightful. Robert’s was part of new wave of Australian artists who wanted to exhibit the real Australia- the people, the scenery and the colours of the land. He studied Impressionist and Naturalistic on a tour of Europe and I think this is very evident in this painting. Robert’s and other emerging artists, presented works that depict the reality of Australia, bathed in colour and light.

I thoroughly enjoyed your blog and I hope to read more of your entries in the future!

ACU Student

A Day at the Art Gallery

Forgiveness is a greater victory than vengeance.




This week we continue our exploration of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, widely considered as not only as his last play, but also the finest of his romantic comedies.

The play blends elements of romance, using the characters of Miranda and Ferdinand and tragedy in Prospero’s revenge.  The Tempest poses deeper questions that are not entirely resolved at the end of the play.

In Act 5 Prospero states “the rarer the action is/In virtue than in vengeance”.  In Prospero, Shakespeare creates a character who decides to forgive his enemies even though they have betrayed him in the worst way.  Shakespeare suggests that it is better to forgive than to hate your enemy.   Forgiveness is for our own growth and happiness. When we hold on to hurt, pain, anger and resentment, it brings us down. Ultimately it harms us far more than it harms the `wrongdoer’. I have learnt over the years that while it can comforting or powerfully freeing to be forgiven, we do not forgive for the other person; we forgive for ourselves! Prospero knows then that forgiveness is an answer to injustice and is in itself a remedy for the potentially devastating effects of injustice. As this was Shakespeare’s final goodbye, I wonder if he was trying to pass this lesson onto his audience.

Artwork by Mike Ken Anderson

Peer Review #3 – Shakespeare and the Renaissance

Hey James,

Much like yourself I have never read or seen The Tempest on stage before and I too was not sure what to expect. Having watched the various scenes in class and finally completed reading the play, I have come to discover that it might actually be my favourite Shakespeare play.

In doing some research on the play, I found that at the time Shakespeare knew the general public, therefore his audience, were fascinated by the supernatural and this inspired him to recreate the character of Ariel. I especially like that, at the conclusion of the play, having carried out all of Prospero’s commands, he is given complete freedom.

A little suggestion for your blog; maybe underline or use italics to make the titles of the plays stand out and be careful to use capital letters as well.

Nice blogging this semester!



Is love constant and unchanging? (Sonnet 116)

Prior to the start of the semester, I was going through my housemates book collection and stumbled on an old edition of `The Illustrated Book of Shakespeare’s Sonnet’. I casually flipped through, stopping occasionally to read a line or two.   Later in class when we were discussing some of sonnets written by Shakespeare, I started to think about Sonnet 116;


The last two lines of the sonnet, If this be error and upon me proved,  I never writ, nor no man ever lovedserve as a declaration to the theme of the sonnet; the nature of true love.

Shakespeare states that true love cannot be altered and will not change over time- love can transform us in such a way that it becomes permanent. Even in death, love will remain.   Shakespeare also uses the star as a metaphor, It is the star to every wandering bark, providing light to those who may have lost their way (in love). The star can also present the ways that love cannot be measured- we cannot guess the distance of the star, therefore love is unmeasurable.

Last week I saw a performance of the musical West Side Story, which is essentially the re-telling of Romeo and Juliet set in 1950s New York City. During the song One Hand, One Heart, the characters of Tony and Maria declare their love so strong that `Even death won’t part us now’.   This lyric reflects Sonnet 116 perfectly.  The love in this sonnet will not diminish over time, it is not based on beauty or looks, it is deep in the soul and the bones.  Shakespeare declares true love is forever constant and will continue and survive until the end of time, and if he is wrong, then love never existed in the first place.

Peer Review #2 – Shakespeare and the Renaissance


Hi Mikaela,

Thanks for your great entry on Judi Dench and her Shakespeare connection. The interview you posted and how Peter Hall assisted Judi in finding the rhythm of Shakespeare was very interesting. In tutorials when acting out the scenes, this is what I struggled the most with. Perhaps in rehearsal for our performance, I will use this method! I was also unaware that Judi was also a founding member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, though in hindsight, this makes perfect sense!

What I find intriguing is that Judi played the role of Titania 48 years apart! I also love that when she played the part in 2010, it was Judi Dench as Elizabeth the 1st as Titania. Just a great way to approach the part and I feel excellent way of bringing the play to stage in a brand-new way. I can also imagine the amount of experience and knowledge Judi held when approaching a character, she last played when she was 28!

Hope you’ve enjoyed exploring Shakespeare as much as I have this semester.

Judi Dench and Shakespeare


Peer Review #1 – Shakespeare and the Renaissance


Hi Julie,

You have written a wonderfully powerful and thought provoking poem here. The imagery you have created serves your words well; “Hold my heart tighter than my waist/caress my fear more than my arms” are particular favourites. As you state, you have stripped away the physical elements of love and are putting the subject of your poem to test. This is reminiscent of the Marlowe and Raleigh’s poems we studied in tutorials. I hope whoever this poem was written for passes the test.

Good work!