Lost Illusions, Bitter Wisdom and Fragile Hope in The Tempest Essay

Lost Illusions, Bitter Wisdom and Fragile Hope in The Tempest Essay

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Lost Illusions, Bitter Wisdom and Fragile Hope in The Tempest


   Is Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, a drama of lost illusions, bitter wisdom and fragile hope? Before this question can be considered, one first has to interpret these terms. Perhaps "bitter wisdom" and "fragile hope" are fairly simple concepts to understand, "lost illusions" is somewhat less clear, particularly in the case of The Tempest.

 

There are three main interpretations of "lost illusions" that could be made. The first is that of a revelation of the mind; the discarding of an 'illusion' to reveal the truth of one's feelings. The second is similar but with a subtle difference; the lifting of an illusion to disclose the truth about something physical (instead of emotional, as in the first case). The last interpretation could not be applied to every use of the word 'illusion,' but suits The Tempest extremely well; this third analysis revolves around magic and the supernatural world.

 

There are several clear examples from the text to illustrate these various points of view. For the first case we have the character of Prospero who, by the end of the play, has realised that he requires more in his life than his Art of magic. He comes to acknowledge that he needs a change of environment, however much he will miss his old life on the island. For the second interpretation, we have the circumstances surrounding Antonio's usurpation of Prospero's title (told only in flashbacks); the true events that occurred then only come to light at the end of the play, when Prospero reveals the entire story to the assembled characters. The third interpretation, that of magic, is present throughout the play, as Prospero exerts his supernatural talents upon the...


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...ased to be a problem, whereas Alonso has the future of his son to contemplate; a future that is by no means certain.

 

From all this, it is clear that, in a general sense, Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest, is a drama of lost illusions, bitter wisdom and fragile hope, as many characters go through that cycle (lost illusions, leading to bitter wisdom and ending with fragile hope), or various parts of it. Also, this description can be used in a more precise manner, when dealing solely with individual characters, particularly Prospero, Miranda, Alonso and Ferdinand.

 

Works Cited and Consulted

Cesaire, Aime. A Tempest. Trans. Richard Miller. New York: UBU, 1992.

Kermode, Frank. "Introduction," in The Tempest(Arden Edition), (London: Methuen, 1962), xlvii-xlviii.

West, Robert. Shakespeare and the Outer Mystery. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1968.

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