Shakespeare Two of Shakespeare's Comedies  Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

Imbalance, even in love, can produce negative and unwanted effects that affect more than two people.

The tempest is another Shakespearean play that is set both in the real and fantastic world. The two real are interwoven and deliberately confusing. The action of the play is swinging back and forth in time. Prospero, the Duke of Milan, is recounting for his daughter Miranda the events that led to their living on an island. The description is like he plunges deep, in a level of suppressed memories: Thou hadst, and more, Miranda. But how is it / That this lives in thy mind? What see'st thou else / in the dark backward and abysm of time? / if thou rememb'rest aught ere thou camest here, / How thou camest here thou mayst (Shakespeare, 1136).

Prospero, who has suffered the injustice of his brother trying to usurp him and take his place on the throne, has come to live on an island with his daughter. He appears to have gained supernatural powers and is able to control everyone around him, either human or supernatural. He is able to command the storm and produce a shipwreck. He is the voice of the author himself and the story takes the shape he wishes for. He is able to control every character in the play, including the forces of nature.

The characters are coming from Naples, which is a well determined place on the map, but they are rejoined in the play on an island they have never set foot before that bears no name. A completely new setting makes anything possible. People an spirits alike can find redemption here.

The redeption is made possible by the two children, Miranda and Ferdinand who are not touched by the evils of this world and fall in love.

After the shipwreck, thinking that his father died, Ferdinand is forcing himself that he will wake up soon from the nightmare: "My spirits, as in a dream, are all bound up. / My father's loss, the weakness which I feel, / the wrack of all my friends, nor this man's threats / to whom I am subdued, are but light to me, / Might I but through my prison once a day / Behold this maid: all corners else o'the earth / Let liberty make use of; space enough / Have I in such a prison" (Shakespeare, 1141). The author plunges in the conscience of his characters, one of them appearing to be himself. Ferdinand is finding in Miranda his salvation from the prison of his own mind. He finds a solution to surpass the extreme conditions that led him on finding himself on a strange island, faced with his father's death: falls in love.

Various parts of the island are the setting for the play, as if everything is happening in someone's mind. The chain of events appear as if developing strangely and sometimes even surprising their author. Just like as in the case of a writers whose characters develop a life of their own letting him to be a mere recorder of their accounts, the actions undertaken by the characters are sometimes contradicting their initial thoughts and intentions. The public almost has the feeling that the players are improvising.

Gonzalo is the voice of wisdom gained from his own mistakes along the years. He is extracting the lessons everyone should learn in order to be able to reach the old age in sanity: "BESEECH you, sir, be merry; you have cause, / So have we all, of joy; for our escape / Is much beyond our loss. Our hint of woe / Is common; every day some sailor's wife, / the masters of some merchant, and the merchant, / Have just our theme of woe; but for the miracle, / I mean our preservation, few in millions / Can speak like us: then / wisely, good sir, weigh / Our sorrow with our comfort (Shakespeare, 1142)."

Gonzalo reveals the beauty that lays before the eyes of those who just came from the shipwreck and are inclined to see only the horror in their own tragedy. He presents them with the means of turning it into an occasion to enjoy instead of mourn. Just like the characters in a Midnight Summer's Dream, those in the Tempest appear to be subjugated by their obsessions, thus being easily subject to depression. Gonzalo is the voice of wisdom and reason. He is teaching them a lesson of reinventing themselves.

The description of the island given by Gonzalo reveals his personal view, which is, of course different than those of each of the rest. The setting differs to a great extent from one scene to another because the human mind differs when it envisages the same thing. Gonzale, though one of the wisest on the island, proves to have his own weaknesses. He is describing the island as a place before the formation of civil society, as Hobbes and Rousseau called it: "I'the commonwealth I would by contraries / Execute all things; for no kind of traffic / Would I admit; no name of magistrate; / Letters should not be known; riches, poverty, / and use of service, none; contract, succession, / Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none; / No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil; / No occupation; all men idle, all; / and women too, -- but innocent and pure; / No sovereignty,-- (Shakespeare, 1144)." He is admonished for his unexpected naive belief in the pure state of nature he seems to praise by those who are pointing out the advantages of living in a civil society, like the one Gonzales left to come on the island, compared to the state of nature he is now living in.

Sleep comes again like a possibility to evade a world one wishes to escape, or at least that is what Alonso thinks: "What, all so soon asleep! I wish mine eyes / Would, with themselves, shut up my thoughts: I find / They are inclined to do so" (Shakespeare, 1144).

Miranda is a woman that has not yet met more than her father, her soul is still pure. She is innocent, but also subject to any source of perversion, since she cannot distinguish good from bad. She is aware that she fell in love with the first man she met, but cannot compare it with anyone else: "Nor can imagination form a shape, / Besides yourself, to like of. But I prattle / Something too wildly, and my father's precepts / I therein do forget" (Shakespeare, 1149). She is lucky enough to fell in love with a prince good in nature and on her father's liking.

Prospero's speech to Ferdinand and Miranda is revealing his conclusions regarding the frailty and ephemeris of one's life. He compares the real world with that dreams are made of. The dreamlike setting of the play is explained by his words: The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, / the solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, / and, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff / as dreams are made on; and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep (Shakespeare, 1145). He finds himself trapped in his own mind.

The spirit of the human condition manifests itself when Stephano, Trinculo and Calibano plot to take over the island and proclaim Stephano as their king.

The cell with its curious and unexpected presence on an island is the setting from some of the scenes in the play. It may represent a cell inside Prospero's mind. He is the only one who can release those he keeps trapped in there and he seems to become aware of it only by the end of the play, as a part of his initiation in learning to set his mind free of obsessions. His twelve years spend thinking about his vengeance led him to understand that his redemption will eventually come from forgiveness and not from revenge.

Towards the end of the play everyone wakes up. Botswan explains they fell asleep and everything was just a dream: "I'ld strive to tell you. We were dead of sleep, / and -- how we know not -- all clapt under hatches; / Where, but even now, with strange and several noises / of roaring, shrieking, howling, jingling chains, / and more diversity of sounds, all horrible, / We were…

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