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Growth of Civilization in Early Modern Period Had there been a world full of corrupted, stinky cities with wicked

people, the world could have never gotten civilized. The early modern civilization carries the humanistic thoughts which changes society- its moral, social and ethical values- affecting psyche of every individual who dwells in part of it. Continuing with the notion about the lives in a city and civilization, both taken as intertwined objects by many of us, might appear mere illusions that we perceive- for, most noble and humble thought gets corrupted when it enters in the city full of vicious acts. But what is it that affected the civilization the most - the cruel and gross cities which devalued humanism or the cities, where hope flourished, which resurrected humanism? Both narrators -Sir Thomas More and Stephen Greenblatt- present this mixed model of the city found during Elizabethan period. Stephen Greenblatt narrates the voices of the specific people who were responsible for the arguments they made whereas Sir Thomas More narrates his own fictional character, Raphael Hythloday, to present the true picture of the early modern city and contrast with an ideal city- Utopia. Stephen Greenblatt- in Chapter six, “Life in the Suburbs”, of the book Will in the Worldnarrates voices that argue cities as the place full of viciousness, where every humanistic noble thought was superseded by filthy fantasies, tricks, betrayals, and vulnerable punishments (Greenblatt, 176 and 186). The city, as Greenblatt presents, was full of crowd and stinking ditches- where there were a lot of attractions to lure people. Along with many amusements like fighting pits, wrestling rings, bowling alleys, and many others, there were engaging entertainments of brutal punishment and prostitution. People in the city enjoyed the bear-baiting, an example of “English specialty”, which were shown to the public as a sign of warning; as a method of punishment. Greenblatt grasps this spectacle of punishment in Shakespeare‟s

Macbeth. „“They have tied me to a stake. I cannot fly,” says Macbeth…. “But bear-like I must fight the course‟” (Greenblatt, 176). When their orders were not followed, people were tortured by the state by chopping off their hands and having them displayed in public. Greenblatt points out that the people in the city loved their cruel spectacle to view such barbaric act. It was the Elizabethan city where humanistic feelings seemed blurred with the pleasures. When some were being punished brutally, others would be enjoying themselves in the inelegant pleasures of whorehouses. The hungry people for entertainment cared none even when their entertaining action like archery killed a human (Greenblatt, 176 and 180). Greenblatt narrates the voices of the moralists and the preachers who claimed “...respectable matrons who went innocently enough to watch the plays were quickly lured into lives of licentiousness...” during the early modern period (Greenblatt, 186). Noble minds were getting corrupted with vices and barbarism these playhouses were providing. Even though the humanistic branches of the society tried to stop this nightmare, the authorities of the city and the powerful hands would never let that happen. Instead, they were worried if the plays were stopped, then the public would no longer occupy entertainment zones and would rather get the revolting thoughts against the cruel government. Vicious corruptions were enforced in the city deliberately by the rich aristocrats to maintain their power and aristocracy (Greenblatt, 187). A similar kind of city can be depicted in Sir Thomas More‟s Utopia in “Book I”. A city like London: where punishments were brutal; greed of power and money among the aristocrats could be clearly envisioned; laws were manipulated in favor of the decision of those on power; poverty was not eradicated, but instead, was encouraged to make the people oblige to the decision the king makes.

Sir Thomas More speaks through Hythloday his ideas of his contemporary city and that of an ideal city. He discourses the brutality of the punishment from Hythloday‟s voice. Thieves who steal money were punished severely in the early modern cities. Thefts were punished with death penalty and so were people convicted for murder. Hythloday makes an argument that the thief who could just steal and run away now has a chance to kill the person so as to hide his guilt of theft. This leads every society into roughness and extreme barbarism. Likewise, Stephen Greenblatt presents the same notion about the punishment that was taking place in London during Shakespearean era. Both discussed cities had their authorities swamped in the greed of money and power thereby leading the society not into a moral and civilized direction, but into the direction of barbarism. Where Greenblatt‟s presented city was totally controlled by the aristocrats, the corrupted city, described in Book I of Utopia by More, was controlled by the king and his counselors. In the former, all public opinions were abandoned. A clear example of it was how the voices raised against the playhouse- which served not only as a place where people could learn different issues taking place at that time, but also as a whorehouse- were ignored by the city authorities and the queen herself (Greenblatt,187). In the latter, the rich aristocrats and the authorities because of greed of money vacated the country places where humans had established their livelihood (More, 9). Being forced to leave their place, the poor people from the country came to city. Having no employment, they soon got captured by what most of the idle people did in cityentertainments and amusements. The playhouses, as the preachers and moralists argue, would teach these people immoral activities. They learn “…how to murder, how to poison, how to disobey and rebel against princes, to consume treasure prodigally, to move to lusts, to ransack

and spoil cities and towns, to be idle…”(Greenblatt, 186). Then, for their living, they would start theft and if caught were punished severely to death. More argues through Raphael “…that you first make thieves and then punish them...” (More,11). There was always a fear in the aristocratic mind- people should not be given the chance to rebel against government. More‟s city‟s rulers and aristocrats think that the more people become poor and less liberal, the more it would be easy to govern them. “….it were his advantage that his people should have neither riches nor liberty; since these things make them less easy and less willing to submit to a cruel and unjust government; whereas necessity and poverty blunts them, make them patient, beats them down, and breaks that height of spirit, that might otherwise dispose them to rebel” (More, 20). Stephen Greenblatt also considers the same point. He indirectly presents the intention of the aristocrats to conquer the liberty of the people. “Elizabethan officials worried about any public spectacle that they could not control. Even the gathering together of a handful of people could alarm the authorities…” (Greenblatt, 187) Spies were assigned to report if any suspicious acts were being planned against government. The government had no trust in its people. If the government and ruler were not cruel, but were an example of justice and morality, they would not have to assign spies, seize the property of the people, and intentionally make them poor. However, cities were not only gross, corrupted and stinky. Had there been no cities, no civilization would have flourished. There were the signs of civilization found in those cities which brought the humankind to its celebrated form of the modern world; there was the resurrection of humanistic feeling; there was the rebirth of art, literature, culture, and moral values. Greenblatt clearly argues in the chapter stating that the city was the place which gave

birth to “the Shakespeare” in Shakespeare (Greenblatt, 176). The concerns, the hopes, the desires, and the anxieties of people were all floating in the city. Every ordinary person during that time period had desire to achieve power for a better life and had hope. The civilization was much affected by writers like Marlowe and Shakespeare. Where Marlowe showed increased desire for extreme power in an ordinary man in his play Tamburlaine, Shakespeare deemphasized the desire and instead, warned that the extreme desire can “lead to a chaos, an ungovernable, murderous factionalism and the consequent loss of power at home and abroad” (Greenblatt, 197). Shakespeare, who came from a country and lived in the city, did not dwell in the vices the city offered. He took a step to light a candle in mere darkness through literature, where he “gave it an energy, power, and conviction that it had never before possessed”. (Greenblatt, 195) There was a hope in More‟s city too: Archbishop. When all of the characters were presented to be pessimistic about the arguments Hythloday brought, Archbishop was presented to be supporting them. He was a sign of hope that could change the whole civilization by changing the government and planting justice and morality seeds. There was barbaric scenario taking place and there were seeds of civilization being sown. No doubt, these seeds grew to flourish humanistic essence in the city; in the society. Had there been no such city where people could educate themselves in libraries, learn different areas of art, and perform in theatres, there would have been no enlightenment and people would have been roaming in the darkness of barbarism. Utopia, was an example of such city- where power was not the better tool to get better life, where there were no tyrants, where everyone had power, where war was chosen not for expansion, but for betterment of its own people, where everywhere people talked about the public welfare and paid no attention to their own private interests, where there was no private property and everyone was concerned about the social

welfare. Cannot we say civilization and city are definitely intertwined? It is not a mere illusion that appeared to be, but is the truth. For, most noble and humble thoughts develop more in the city as it did in Shakespeare‟s London and More‟s Utopia.