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Contexts and Comparisons Chapter 5 - Renaissance Literature 

CULTURAL CHANGE AND RENAISSANCE LITERATURE

As Italian Renaissance artists gave external pictorial form to a new evaluation of human action in the world, Italian Renaissance writers portrayed a new dimension of the inner life. In theory, if not always in practice, medieval Christians believed that one's situation at birth had been ordained by God. This view changed in the Renaissance, when individuals believed in their power to shape themselves and their circumstances. A character like Shakespeare's Hamlet, for example, casts himself in at least three favorite Renaissance roles: the Lover, the Prince, and the Courtier. In this section, we will see how these roles were examined and popularized by books which defined psychology and behavior appropriate to each.