William Shakespeare's play The Tempest utilizes extensive imagery which goes beyond merely creating atmosphere and background or emphasizing the major themes of the play. The supernatural plays a considerable role in the play, thus so does the use of imagery, which is more extensive and somewhat different from many other of Shakespeare's works. The imagery is used as a mediator of supernatural powers, to emphasize the natural scene of action, and establish the enchanted island which becomes vivid through such a wealth of single features and of concrete touches. Therefore throughout the play imagery serves a much larger role than creating atmosphere, and is actually involved in most aspects of the play.
In The Tempest, the actual catastrophe is at the beginning, and not at the end or in the middle of the play. And everything derives and develops from this beginning. Thus the images in this first scene that act as links with the previous events have not the function of preparing what is to come; they are rather a reminiscence, or an afterthought, they keep awake our remembrance of what has happened. The manner in which an actual event, by means of the imagery, pervades and overcasts the whole play is a good instance of Shakespeare's technique, sometimes employed by him in his later plays, of transforming frequently used symbolic imagery into actual incident.
The "sea-storm" lingering in our memory, together with the recollection of wind, water and conflicting elements, thus constitutes one of the main streams of imagery which, from the second scene onwards, flow through the play. In the second scene, we are still under the impression of what we have witnessed just before; and, accordin...
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The examination of the imagery in The Tempest showed how vividly, sensuously and precisely this nature-world was represented. As we have already said, this concreteness and realness; conveyed through the imagery, constitutes a counterpart to the world of the supernatural in this play. The supernatural, in being based on firm reality, gains probability and convincing power.
Shakespeare, W. The Tempest. Ed. Sutherland, J.R. (1990)
G. Wilson Knight, (1932) The Shakespearean Tempest, Oxford
Elizabeth Holmes, (1976) Aspects of Elizabethan Imagery, Oxford
Mikhail M. Morozor, (1989)"The Individualization of Shakespeare's Characters through Imagery", Shakespeare Survey.
Kenneth Goddard, "Imagery and Drama" (1992) University Journal
B. Thompson, (1995) Notes on The Tempest
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