Covering the 15th and 16th Centuries, the Renaissance signified Europe's cultural revival. It was also a portal through which Western Civilization began impacting the world. From then on, the world would never be the same again.
William Shakespeare was a Renaissance man who respected no walls or barriers on his way to explore the cosmos. In his mind, therefore, the dichotomy between art and science never existed, in sharp contrast to what our colleges tell us today. Merging art and science, Shakespeare addressed important philosophical issues confronting humanity.
Making people laugh or cry is moving people. Moving people toward what? Toward modernity while turning away from mundanity. Enlightening and entertaining, Shakespeare's plays are a good mix of poetry and science. The following is an illuminating nugget:
Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2
(Hamlet's Love Letter to Ophelia)
To the celestial, and my soul’s idol, the
most beautified Ophelia….
Doubt thou the stars are fire,
Doubt that the sun doth move,
Doubt truth to be a liar,
But never doubt I love.
Here, in Hamlet's moment of agony, Shakespeare met Copernicus, and love met astronomy. Copernicus proved that the earth revolves around the sun. He thus rubbed his geocentric church the wrong way. He was inviting trouble to himself. Fortunately or unfortunately though, he died too soon to face persecution.
On the stage, Hamlet's vow of love was Copernican heliocentrism, inviting doubt and fear too. If Ophelia doubted him, he implied, he would be willing to pay the ultimate price. That being the case, romantic love and astronomical truth made sense of each other, poetically and scientifically.
"All the world's a stage." This stage was and still is revolving around the Shakespearean sun.
Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2 Summary & Analysis