How did Renaissance affect English literature? Discuss critically.

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, the word "renaissance" means literally, "rebirth".  In this time period in England, many new things were coming about in areas of art, philosophy, religion, music, etc.

For literature, the lyric poem came about, and the sonnet was invented and perfected by Shakespeare and Spencer.  Shakespeare also did something else that hadn't been done before, and that was to combine the elements of tragedy and comedy into one play...namely Romeo and Juliet, but all of his tragedies have elements of comic relief in order to help the audience absorb the horror they had just witnessed and relax a little from the edge of their seats.  Take the Porter in Macbeth who, in his drunken state, is on his way to answer the knocking at Macbeth's castle gate but pretends that he is answering the gate of Hell just after Duncan's gory murder.  There are silly scenes with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and with the grave diggers in Hamlet for the same reason.

I'm sure there are others, but this is a good jumping off place--the lyric poem, the sonnet, and the transition of play writing.

Good Luck!