Compare and Contrast Essay Sample: The Renaissance and Contemporary Society

Published: 2019-09-30
Compare and Contrast Essay Sample: The Renaissance and Contemporary Society
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  History Culture Society
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1532 words
13 min read

The Renaissance was an era of great technological and cultural changes, which swept Europe from the end of the 13th century. The period was integral in building up Europe into a powerhouse. Each part of Europe was subjected to distinct changes. The Italian and the Northern Renaissance were the most notable primary Renaissance. In other words, Italy was the crib of the movement. Venice, Rome, and Florence cities were of great importance to this era (Vickers, 2004). The Renaissance era was indeed a distinct era. Inspiration from the Roman and ancient Greek people led to humanism beliefs and inspired man to appreciate multi-talented. The term contemporary society is used interchangeably with the term modern life to both mean the current situation, way of life and culture (Fasolt, 2012). It is evident that the Renaissance had profound effects on the course of the development of modern culture and society because it is a natural extension of both artistic expressions. Although to some extent the Renaissance and contemporary life are similar, the differences outweigh the similarities.

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In the pre - Renaissance, writers usually tended to focus on issues of religious nature. The text created used to instruct readers about how to live a virtuous life and discussed Christian heroes (Raditsa, et al., 2000). The Renaissance era introduced influence to new writers who sought to break with this custom and present a more realistic edition of life. Numerous authors from the Renaissance era had an imperative impact on contemporary society, based on either literary style, meaning and political thoughts (Pettegree, 2010). By introducing a new realism, they enabled common people to find pleasure from tales and this tradition has continued in modern society.

Music was used for entertainment in the Renaissance period as it is in the contemporary society. Music surpasses the time zones, cuddles our life with a variety of wonderful sounds that catch our souls, and binds our thoughts of humanism and realism (Ferguson, et al., 1986). Music had political agendas that separated the classes and allowed certain people to listen or perform to the talented. The popes were most common and very powerful in the Renaissance times. People enjoyed the company of the musicians, and if they were good enough, they would live within the limits to write as well as perform their works (Raditsa, et al., 2000).

Humanism was initiated in this Renaissance period. Any individual who studied the classics was known as a humanist. Humanist used to look at the past and studied what in the past made an individual who he/she is (Pettegree, 2010). It was the role of humanists to accentuate on the significance of human values rather than religion. Humanist considered themselves Christians, although they were often not highly valued in the church and usually found themselves in trouble. In the contemporary society, such individuals still exist (Fasolt, 2012). Anthropology or Psychology functions as humanists in the Renaissance period. They attempt to develop a new and profound understanding of human culture and values that might be viewed as contradicting the religious views. In this perspective, one can compare humanists to modern psychology modern church issues. Humanists and psychology differ slightly regarding values they developed and source of such values.

In both the Renaissance and contemporary society era, art does not change and is considered as an expression of the artists to communicate their views. Artistic expression is noted, documented, modeled through various channels including painting, literature, music, including other types of the project used to enlighten or convey information (Raditsa, et al., 2000). The similarities in music between the two periods include historical values, enlightenment and public performance for entertainment. A noted difference in music between the two periods is on how it was presented and the theme. In the Renaissance era, music was not performed at fairs, on the street, plays, theater and castles for entertainment, as it is common in the modern life (Vickers, 2004). It was only played for church functions as it is in the contemporary society. In modern life, music continues to offer content and meaning from the writer and still found in plays, fairs, concerts and special events. The public also creates the demand to listen to musical ensembles for entertainment as it was in the Renaissance era.

The Renaissance society was divided into classes and was governed by kings and popes, which resulted into power struggles (Fasolt, 2012). In the Renaissance, social classes include the monarch, nobility, gentry, merchants, yeomanry, and laborers. It was almost impossible for people to move upward from one class to the other. The Monarchs were the rulers and not at any time, and any other social class could have assumed the responsibilities of the monarch. In the contemporary society, social classes are based on the wealth of an individual. There is extremely rich, wealthy and poor class. Rulers or those that assumes the responsibilities of ruling the country do not come from a specific class. In the modern life, the responsibility of ruling does not depend on with blood or lineage, but other factors do.

Chivalry differs in both eras. The Renaissance era's chivalry was a code of conduct that all knights had to follow. They were rules that governed and secured their culture where noncompliance resulted to harsh disciplinary measures (Pettegree, 2010). The codes included what people should act like or be to his people. In the contemporary society, there are no knights, but there are distinct codes that have to be followed that guide our lives. Such codes include requirements of a job, the constitution, a school dress code, code of ethics amid others.

Comparatively, fashion in the Renaissance era differs with that in the contemporary society. In the Renaissance period, clothing was based on the social class. Poor people wore clothing made of thin linen while rich people wore silk, satin, and velvet. Gender also determined the kind of clothes worn. Men and women had to wear a certain way subject to Queen Elizabeths demands. In the contemporary society, people can wear whatever they want. They have the choice of what to wear and in any manner (Raditsa, et al., 2000). Actually, an event to be attended and requirements determine clothes worn. Clothing in the modern life is extremely different from what people wore back then and although the clothes in recent times are made of some of the same materials used in the Renaissance times. There are various types and styles of clothes to choose from in the contemporary society.

Medicine was not very advance in the Renaissance period. The cures they used were only a mixture of different herbs, and they were usually home remedies. Just like in the modern life, there were four different medical practitioners: physician, surgeons, barber, and apothecary. Herbal medicines are still in use in the contemporary society, although not by many. Medicine in the modern times is much more advanced. There are hospitals with well-trained and licensed doctors and nurses (Fasolt, 2012). The apothecaries are currently known as pharmacists, but only provide certain medicines prescribed by the doctor.

The Roman Catholic Church dominated during the Renaissance and used to control most aspects of peoples lives. Another kind of religions was not accepted. As the Roman Church gained power, it became corrupt, and people broke off from it. The phenomenon was called the Protestant Reformation. In the contemporary society, people have freedom of religion and many other religions are accepted (Ferguson, et al., 1986). The supreme laws including a constitution in modern life also protect religions. Freedom of association grants an individual power to join the religion of his/her liking.

Arranged marriages were very common in the Renaissance period. Women were expected to be married and have as many children as possible at a young age. They stayed home with kids while men were the only breadwinners. During the Renaissance era, families started to rise to power in Europe like the Medici family who are pretty mafia like in the contemporary society (Raditsa, et al., 2000). Both parents have the choice of either stay home or go out to work. It is not necessary for people to get married and that explains the rationale of single parenting in the contemporary society.

In sum, the Renaissance era occurred in the 15th century where the Northern Europe and Italy witnessed a serious revival of architecture, painting, drawing, and sculpture. It brought about rebirth and fresh thinking. A comparison of religious, art, music, food, fashion, medicine, chivalry, food and dressing between the Renaissance and in modern times shows that differences outweigh similarities. There are clear differences that can be drawn from the two eras.


Fasolt, C. (2012). Saving Renaissance and Reformation: History, Grammar, and Disagreements with the Dead. Religions, 3(4), 662-680.

Ferguson, M. W., Quilligan, M., & Vickers, N. J. (1986). Rewriting the Renaissance: The discourses of sexual difference in early modern Europe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Pettegree, A. (2010). The book in the Renaissance. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.

Raditsa, B., Arkenber, R., & Burnham, R. (2000). THE ART OF RENAISSANCE EUROPE, 14, 201, 51, 168. Retrieved from

Vickers, B. (2004). THE IDEA OF THE RENAISSANCE, REVISITED. Retrieved 19 May 2016, from

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