It is amazing how aspects of society can and will change so significantly over the course of a few hundred years. Between the time periods of the Medieval era and the Renaissance, one can note numerous significant changes, mainly those pertaining to religion and art, and specifically, drama. In Medieval times, people seemed to rely mainly on the church and God for their entertainment purposes; whereas during the Renaissance, the focus was more secular: humans and life on earth. In general, ideals and subjects evolved from unquestionable Church dogma (and therefore very safe subject matter) to ideas that focused on the questions of humanity (and therefore creating an unstable and unsettling universe.) The evolution from the Medieval dogma to the humanistic focus of the Renaissance is apparent through the dramatic texts of the time. Although these two eras differ in many other ways, the most illustrated differences deal with the realm of drama, starting with the Medieval Cycle dramas and culminating in Shakespeare's King Lear.
Drama noticeably shifted from religious awe to classical reason between the Medieval era and the Renaissance. During the Middle Ages, drama was aimed mainly at making advancements in the church. Thus, the Cycle Dramas or English Passion Plays were performed with the permission and "help" of the church. It is thought that church clergy probably wrote the playlets and then gave it over to the Guilds to be performed. Although the appearance of the Cycle Dramas seems unimaginative and commonplace at a first glance, there are some striking innovations in terms of furthering a dramatic structure. This is the first time we see the use of a double plot in which the honored and revered story is compared to a similar situation but of a base (and most times, immoral) story. A perfect example of this is in The Second Shepard's Play where Mak and Mak's wife, Gill, imitate the glorious scene of Christ's birth in the manger by putting the stolen lamb in a basket and pretending !.