All's Well That Ends Well Author:William Shakespeare edited by Dr. Beryl Rowland To the reader: — This figure, that thou here seest put, — It was for gentle Shakespeare cut: — Wherein the graver had a strife — With nature, to out-do the life: — O, could he but have drawn his wit — As well in brass, as he hath hit — His face; the print would then surpass — All, that was ever writ in brass. — But, since he cannot, reader, look, — Not on... more » his picture, but his book.
The Mediaeval view of man was generally not an exalted one. It saw him as more or less depraved, fallen from Grace as a result of Adam's sin; and the things of this world as of little value in terms of his salvation. natural life was thought of mainly as a preparation of man's entry into Eternity. But Renaissance thought soon began to rehabilitate man and nature. Without denying man's need for Grace, men came gradually to accept the idea that there were 'goods,' values, 'innocent delights' to be had in the world here and now. Man himself was seen no longer as wholly vile and depraved, incapable even of desiring goodness, but rather as Shakespeare was him in "Hamlet":
'What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
express and admirable! in action how like an angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world!
the paragon of animals!'
It was, indeed, a very stirring time to be alive in. it was a time like spring, when promise, opportunity, challenge, and growth appeared where none had been dreamed of before. Perhaps this is why there is so much poetry of springtime in the age of Shakespeare.
(Edited with Introduction and Suggestions for Study by Dr. Beryl Rowland