Monday, December 8, 2008

I sort of love Great Ideas.

In your opinion, how has man's view of man changed from the time of the Greeks to the Renaissance? Use specific examples from
Much Ado About Nothing to prove your point.

I may be a bit biased, being female (obviously), but I truly believe that the transformation of “man’s view of man” between the Greek era and the Renaissance is due to the dramatic change in the perception of a woman. Females make up half of the population; I’m almost positive that this has not changed whatsoever throughout the ages as males sort of need women to procreate, but how they are treated and looked upon most definitely has. It makes sense that society’s outlook on life in general would change with the shift in reputation of women—fifty percent is a large piece (half, to be exact). But I digress.

Somewhere in two thousand years or so, women became significantly more independent, probably because society allowed them to through acceptance. With this, for the female population, came literacy, intelligence (to be developed into cleverness and wit), and an altogether higher value (in that they were valued more as human beings, not that they were analogous to an item to be bought for a high price). We observe this greatly in women in Much Ado About Nothing. Beatrice definitely fits this generalization with her witty remarks to Benedick, such as when she rather bluntly states her independence: “You don’t have to; I do it of my own free will” (Act 4, Scene 1), or, “A dear happiness to women: they would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that: I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me” (film). Obviously, too, the male population has grown to accept this in their women, for in Greek times, Beatrice would have been immediately dismissed, literally or figuratively, and perhaps exiled, but here, Benedick falls in love with her because of her wit and teasing: “Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.”

This ties into the transformation of language throughout the centuries in question. By the time of the Renaissance, language has somehow acquired the characteristics of wit and intelligence as well as poetic romanticism (Beatrice, again: “You have stayed me in a happy hour, I was about to protest I loved you… I love you with so much of my heart, that none is left to protest.”), a great change from the heroic, almost war-like language of the Greek society (though my sampling of Greek literature is perhaps inaccurate because it was not in its original form).

A transformation also occurs within the religions. Roman Catholicism, in comparison to Greek religion, encourages the betterment of oneself (reconciliation, salvation, atonement for sins) which in turn betters the community, whereas the Greeks in a sense skip a step and focus on the community directly (hospitality) while putting self second. We witness this a bit in Much Ado About Nothing, when Benedick and Claudio pursue their own dreams (Beatrice and Hero, respectively), rather than strive to help others first, truly causing much ado about nothing.

Between Ancient Greece and early Renaissance Europe, I have noticed two general trends: the shifts from simplicity to extravagance and from for-the-good-of-the-community mindset and morals to those of more self-centered roots. It’s not unfathomable that women would be the driving force behind these. Observe, the female population of any high school in April in preparation for prom: “I want this $400 dress instead of that $300 dress.” Women like extravagance. Women like to get what they want. As the influence of women changes, society changes. We’re kind of a big deal.

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