Inidividualism in the Early Modern Period

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“Individualism and the Early Modern Period”
For much of the world, the Early Modern period (from about 1500-1700) was a revolutionary time, marked by political, scientific and literary transitions. Politically, nations began to resist outside rule and establish their own national languages. Scientifically, the idea of a heliocentric universe (rather than a geocentric one) began to gain favor as Polish astronomer Nicolas Copernicus challenged tradition and church doctrine. In Europe, the invention of printing brought about a literary explosion. Books and texts could be mass-produced, making them much more affordable. Suddenly, one did not have to be of a certain socioeconomic status to have access to books. Writers saw the incredible potential of printing and ran with it, incorporating newly-available vernacular languages into their writing. The printing press opened up a world of seemingly endless possibility. The Early Modern period was marked by a resistance to (and sometimes rejection of) the status quo. Traditions were challenged, questioned, and sometimes abandoned. It was this heady atmosphere that gave rise to individualism. Individualism

The American Heritage Dictionary defines individualism as “a social theory advocating the liberty, rights, or independent action of the individual.” The Early Modern period represents a shift in emphasis from the group dynamic (most notably the church) to the worth of the individual person. The thoughts, desires, goals and value of the individual gained significantly in importance, and one of the areas in which this shift is most readily apparent is in the world of literature. Niccolo Machiavelli was not necessarily revered as a writer during his lifetime, but from a literary standpoint, he was definitely a man of his time, and he illustrates this in his 1513 work, The Prince. Machiavelli and The Prince

Machiavelli grew up during the peaceful Italian Renaissance, as Florence was becoming one of the leading cities...
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