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    Humanism In Ben Jonson

    Number of Pages: 5


    Summary of the research paper:

    A 5 page paper looking at the presence of humanism in Ben Jonson's 'Inviting a Friend to Supper'. The paper shows how Renaissance humanism developed from the extreme ecclesiastical orientation of the Middle Ages, and points out its manifestations in this poem. Bibliography lists 6 sources.

    Name of Research Paper File: D0_Jonsupp.doc

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    words no longer in contemporary usage, but otherwise the poem just flows forth, like a real invitation that happens to be in rhyme. Much of this is due to the  human warmth that Jonsons words exude, which is palpable down to this day. And this is due, in large measure, to its humanism. What is humanism? That may be easiest  to explain by pointing out how it came to be. Up to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Western art and literature had been primarily ecclesiastical in orientation. That is, the  avowed purpose of both branches of the arts -- as of all human endeavor -- was to reflect the centrality of the Church in mortal life, and to bring Christians  into a fuller relationship and understanding of their eternal hope in the bosom of God. However, by the fourteenth century things had begun to change. This change, specifically, reflected  the growth of a culture more centered on the experience of being human -- in all its various delights and sufferings -- and less on becoming divine. This focus on  man, and on mans concerns, was known as humanism. Herbert Read defines humanism as the "essential belief in one dogma: the self-sufficiency of man; the belief that the only values  that matter are human values" (Read, 161). And J.A. Cuddon adds that it is "a form of philosophy which concentrated on the perfection of the worldly life, rather than on  the preparation for an eternal and spiritual life" (Cuddon, 432). This attitude is reflected in Ben Jonsons poem "Inviting a Friend to Supper." One need only compare this to a  poem of, say, John Donne, to see the difference. Far from being concerned with metaphysical and other-worldly things, this one is about the bounty of food and the warmth of 

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