Importance Of Language In Shakespeare's The Tempest

1866 words - 7 pages

   There are many different interpretations and differences of opinion regarding the genre of The Tempest, a play by William Shakespeare. In the essays "The Backward Voice": Puns and the Comic Subplot of The Tempest, by Maurice Hunt, and The Tempest as Romance and Anti-Romance, by Richard Hillman, the genre of the play is discussed in depth. Using elements such as setting, lines of the characters, and the action that occurs in the play, the authors evaluate Shakespeare's play The Tempest to be a romance with a "comic subplot", and thereby show how important the interpretation of the language and interaction is in finding meaning in the play.

Literary critic Richard Hillman says that, in general, romantic dramas are characterized by their fantasy-like atmosphere with love as the main focus or concern of the play, and they usually exhibit a complete disregard for normal or realistic daily life occurrences (Hillman 141). For instance, Prospero's magic is not a common human trait, in fact, it is pure fiction. Human beings have never been know to posses powers such as he does that allow him to produce vanishing banquets and have such absolute control over Miranda. Thus, this is an indicator that The Tempest is a romantic play. The whole story would not take place without the existence of magic. Prospero could not have induced the storm, and if this did not occur, then the rest of the drama would not have followed.

The Tempest's dependency on magic as a key element of the plot is evidence of the romantic genre type. Magic is an illusion, unreal, and belongs in a fantasy world, which is what a romance is largely supposed to be: one complex fantasy. According to literary critic Anthony B. Dawson, The Tempest "...contains the classic pattern of romance, where apparent disaster is morphosed into serenity and reunion..."; the apparent disaster being the storm and the ultimately happy ending occurring when Ferdinand and Miranda are married and Prospero reconciles with Alonso, Antonio, and the others (142). The environment is also an illusion of sorts in the play, as nature is not acting "naturally". The stormy sea is not just ordinary rough waters, it is all part of a greater orchestrated purpose. In the real world, a little fairy boy Ariel would not flit around singing and driving people mad, or even exist for that matter. All of these unearthly elements contribute to the romantic supernatural atmosphere that is created in The Tempest.

In order to entertain his audience, Shakespeare created the romantic atmosphere in this play so that it became an escape of sorts for his audience. People could effectively forget their troubles while watching a play in which the setting was not realistically related to the world they lived in. Similarly, producers of movies today must create an atmosphere that is unusual or unique in some way so that the audience can lose themselves in the story. Dramatic productions, old and new, are formulated with the...

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