What is Humanism in Renaissance Literature?

3 Mins read

One of the major intellectual movements in the late medieval and Renaissance periods was Humanism. Humanist thinkers were critical of Church doctrine, and they emphasized the power of natural reason to understand the world without recourse to religious faith. In this blog post, we’ll explore what humanism is, how it influenced European thought, and who the most well-known humanist thinkers are.

What is Humanism?

Humanism is a philosophical and literary movement of the Renaissance. It was a cultural shift in Europe that saw an end to medieval Christian ways of thinking and a return to classical studies, this time from a secular perspective. It also had a social aim: to use the new learning to reform society.

Humanism emphasized the human as the measure of all things. This period in history is often referred to as the Renaissance because it was a time of revival and re-evaluation of arts and culture. The movement emerged in Italy during the 14th century and spread all over Europe, including England.

What are the 3 Beliefs of Humanism?

In general, humanists believe that human beings are the source of all truth and knowledge. They also believed in understanding nature through empirical means and living life with virtue. Humanists believe that people have been placed on Earth to achieve happiness by following their natural desires.

Humanists believe that the authority of the Bible should be taken with a grain of salt. They also believe in the existence of a soul, but they think it is “potential” rather than “actual”. Lastly, they value humans over anything else on earth.

Read About: Nihilism In Literature: What It Is And How It Impacts The Reader?

Humanism is based on 3 key principles:

(1) people are rational;

(2) humans can be self-sufficient;

(3) human nature is good.

The Renaissance period was the first time that humankind was thought of as having the power to take care of itself, rather than relying on God or another higher power.

How Does Humanism Influence Renaissance Literature?

Humanists felt that man could use his rational skills to improve himself and his environment. Humanism as a philosophy also influenced art as well as politics during the Renaissance period. Humanism emerged because of the scientific revolution and the Age of Enlightenment.

The primary goal of humanism was to establish an intellectual framework for understanding the world without having to rely on religion. Humanism emphasizes individual experience, empiricism, and creativity. It was most popular with poets and writers during the Renaissance.

Humanism is a philosophy that values the potential of humanity and promotes a life in which human beings can fully express their talents and reach their full potential. Humanism doesn’t have a standard definition, but it emphasizes the value of human life, as well as individual freedom to pursue self-interests. This mindset is likely to have influenced the Renaissance period because it encouraged people to think more independently.

Examples of Renaissance Literature that Exhibit Humanistic Ideals

It’s a “literature” that rejects idealized notions of religion, hierarchy, and society, instead emphasizing human experience. Renaissance humanism focused on cultivating personhood through philosophical speculation, applying logic to concepts like virtue, and exploring the capabilities of man.

Humanism in Renaissance literature can be seen in the works of authors like William Shakespeare and Cervantes. They both adopt a more egalitarian worldview, which rejects the idea of a society ruled by the divine right of kings.

In ‘Romeo and Juliet’, Shakespeare takes an interesting stance on obedience to authority. He shows that even one’s parents have imperfections, which leads to them being flawed teachers. Humanistic ideals are seen in works such as “The Prince” by Machiavelli, “The Republic” by Plato, “Utopia” by More, and “Hamlet” by Shakespeare.


Humanism in Renaissance literature in a literary and intellectual movement in which the main principles were to value reason over faith, and to make people the center of one’s existence. Humanists viewed humanity as being at its most complete when it can perceive the world through its own senses, experience things for itself, and create new knowledge using reason.

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