First paragraph: Today many exceptions seem obvious relevant to the historic advance of secularism from the Renaissance to the Reformation followed by the Enlightenment. However, a basic transition seems to have sustained itself over many decades in the modern recovery of religious disbelief ultimately derivative of pre-Socratic philosophy consolidated by Aristotle. For example, the two years of 1610-1611 seem to have set the stage for all three of the later historic epochs, the Renaissance followed by the Reformation and Enlightenment. The King James translation of the Bible in 1611 might have been a major achievement of the English Reformation just preceding Milton, but Shakespeare's final play, “The Tempest,” produced the same year, effectively brought the English Renaissance to a close as suggested by its secular wording, "What's past is prologue," "Oh brave new world," and, most tellingly, "We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep" as opposed to the promise of heavenly infinitude. Similarly, Ben Jonson's stage satire “The Alchemist,” first produced in 1610, invoked a level of skepticism that both anticipated and exceeded the conventions of Restoration comedy that followed.
WMU ScholarWorks Citation
Jayne, Edward, "The Enlightenment: John Messlier" (2020). English Faculty Publications. 19.