Review Of Shakespere

’s “The Tempest” Essay, Research Paper

Why is it that people fawn Shakespeare and have unreasonably high

reguard for his works, including The Tempest, and label them as

?immortal classics?? Indeed Shakespeare?s works had great significance in

the evolution of English literature, but these works, including The Tempest

are mostly devoid of significance and literary value in the present day. One

can expect to gain little educational benefit of the english language or

hightened apreciation for fine literature from the reading of Shakespeare?s

titles for reasons enumerate. First of all, the colorful and sophisticated

metephoric vernacular style of the language utilized is archaic; even the

speech of intellectually refined individuals and other respected literary

works do not imploy of this rich style of speech. The poemic composition of

The Tempest does not increase one?s ability to apreciate distinguished

literature because the refined and respected works of most other classical

writers are in novel form and thus differ highly from Shakesperian works in

the literary devices and mannerisms from which they are comprised.

The Tempest was written in early seventeeth century England. At this period

of history and country the English language was quite different from what it

is today in many ways. First, standard, formal vocabulary was different at

this time. An great expample is found in the line ?…you bawling,

blasphemous, incharitable dog!? (act 1 sc. 1, p. 9). In this line, the word

incharitable is the modern equivalent of the word uncharitable. The standard

dictionary word has changed prefixes somewhere througout the centuries.

Another thing that would have made a further gap between the vernacular in

the play and modern English is Shakespeare?s deployment of common language,

or slang (although I have no proof because I don?t speak sixteenth century

slang). ?A pox o? your throught…? (act 1 sc.1, p. 9) and ?…give o?er…?

(act 1 sc. 1, p. 9). These phrases seem to be slang therms because they are

so deviant from there modern english equvalents, ?curses on? and ?give up?,

respectiveley. What value does learning the archaic vernacular give to the

reader. Surely it does not increase thier word power or sophisticate thier

vocabulary, for nowhere, not even in among people of high intellecutal

refinement such as venerable college professers, is this dead language used.

Another distinctive trait of the vernacular used in The Tempest is the heavy

use of metaphor. This use of metaphor is so heavy and outlandish that it

becomes extrodinarily difficult to interpret and causes the words to fall

into chaotic ambiguity. In fact, it is not unreasonable to define the

language of the text as sophistry. A great example of heavy metaphor in The

Tempest is the line ?O heaven , O earth, bear witness to this sound, / and

crown what I profess with kind event / If I speak true; if hollowly, invert /

What best is boded me to mischief. I, / Beyond all limit of what else I?

th? world, / Do love, prize honor you? (Act 3 sc. 1, p. 95). In modern

terms, this means: ?Lord, bear witness to what I say, and bless my claim (to

this woman). Let me be damned if I lie when I say that I love honor, prize

and honor you above anything else in the world.? The learning of this type

of heavy usage of metaphor would be justified if it were imployed in many

other respected classic works or in modern eloquent speech, but it is not.

Metaphoric speech outside of literature and informal speech is reguarded

as crude and unsophisticated in modern speech. This is so because people

have come to reguard refined speech as being characteristic with the use of a

large vocabulary consisting of consise and sophisticated words.

Even if the argument is made that one cannot gain much benefit in refining

their speech by reading The Tempest, Shakespeare aficianados claim that there

is value in the mechanics and devices common in literature which can be

learned from his works. This is exaggerated, however. The most valuble

literary device that can be learned from The Tempest is the metaphor.

However, as I said before, Shakespeare over uses this so much that his words

fall into sophistry. A good example is the line ?Or that there were such men

/ Whose head stood in their breasts?? (act 3 sc. 3, p.113). I can make no

sense out of this whatsoever. Another outlandish metaphor is ?Which now we

find / Each putter-out of five for one will bring us / Good warrant of? (act

3 sc. 3, p. 113). However, a foot note explains that line makes reference to

the fact that because of the danger involved in travel at the time, a

traveler could give a sum of money to a broker and collect five times his

deposit if he could successfully return from his voyage. However, this is

out of context with the preceeding lines in which Gonzalo is lamenting on the

immoratlity of the others. As you can see, Shakespeares use of metaphor is

not as exemplary as it is reputated. As for respecting The Tempest for its

useage of other literary devices, one might as well proclaim a VCR

instruction booklet as a great classic piece of literature. I say this

because The Tempest is an epic poem, and not a novel. There is no great

comparison with the usage of elements of this drama which was intended to be

performed, not read. For starters, the characters of the play are one

dimensional. For example, Prospero is an all powerful sorcerer who is bent

only on retribution for Antonio, the usurper of his thrown. There are no

other aspects of Prospero?s personality seen in the play, and very little

about his intimate thoughts and feelings which is so common in many classic

pieces of literature.

If The Tempest is still viewed in the twentieth century to by a great piece

of literature by so many respectable authorities of literature, then they

might as well go ahead and indiscriminately label other works devoid of

literary merit as ?immortal classics? – including the owners manual to my

1989 Ford Taurus. Yes, Shakespeare did play a vital role in the evolution of

literature, but the greatness of his work has been surpassed by far by other

authors – authors which perhaps should be given more credit for their

endevours than a 433 year old has been.

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