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A Comparison of Ignorance in The Tempest and Sonnet 93

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Ignorance in The Tempest and Sonnet 93

Ignorance has been said to be bliss. To equate appearance with reality is a facet of ignorance, and leads to a part of the bliss. Many of Shakespeare's characters find the bliss of ignorance and revel in it, and some end up coming to terms with their gullibility. Some few are unwilling to abandon their ignorance even when they can see real truth. All are experiencing different stages of the human cycle. Coming into the world, we are equipped with nothing more than recognition of appearance. We must learn to the distinguish what is real from what is seen. Those who have the opportunity to learn this difference will often deny the truth to live in bliss a moment longer, those who are no longer ignorant can occasionally re-enter the cycle in a moment of absolute trust and wonder, and finally there are those who have spilled off one end of the cycle or the other, and are trapped in a particular stage for their life. In all cases, real truth is irrelevant to the human goal of happiness.

The speaker of sonnet 93 is fighting his own intelligence to stay ignorant. In order to avoid living a cycle of clear reason, he uses the fogging image of the ideal. He tells himself he cannot see any trace of falseness in his lover because she is so beautiful: 'Whatever thy thoughts or thy heart's workings be,/ Thy looks should nothing but sweetness tell'. Essentially he has doubled back on his own mind: convinced himself he has not seen the change he has seen. He is willing to sacrifice the truth he sees to prolong his happiness.

Miranda in The Tempest is shown slowly bridging the gap between her untouched childlike ignorance and the clarity ...

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...e too close to the truth, seek truth when wonder is empty or exhausted. The only way to tie oneself to the truth is to wind one's happiness around the truth until they are inseparable, while exhausting the capacity for wonder.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Bloom, Harold. Modern Critical Interpretations: William Shakespeare's Sonnets. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987. pg. 12-13

Davidson, Frank. "The Tempest: An Interpretation." In The Tempest: A Casebook. Ed. D.J. Palmer. London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1968. 225.

Ingram, W. G. and Theodore Redpath, Ed. "Sonnet 93," Shakespeare's Sonnets.New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc., 1968. pg. 168-169.

Shakespeare, William, 1998. The Tempest. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1998

Webster, Margaret. Shakespeare Without Tears. Greenwich: Fawcett Publications, Inc., 1996.
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