Essay on Interruption and Distraction in The Tempest

Essay on Interruption and Distraction in The Tempest

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Interruption and Distraction in The Tempest


In Shakespeare's play The Tempest, there are numerous interruptions that hinder the outcomes of the play. Simultaneously, through magic and song, the wedding masque is a subtle distraction that could have altered the result of the play. In The Tempest, interruption equals distraction, in turn causing restraints. This promotes confusion, disturbance, mental intrusion, and diversion amongst the characters in the play.

We are introduced to Ariel (Prospero's invisible servant). Ariel sings beautiful songs that distract the characters and the audience as well. Ariel's songs inspire subliminal messages; these messages are mental and physical acts of destruction. The exquisite noise that Ferdinand hears is caused by anxiety of sea imagery:

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were in his eyes;
But doth suffer a sea change
Into something rich and strange"
Sea nymphs hourly ring his knell: (1.2.400)

More than likely these are the very words that provoke Ferdinand's curiosity. Hearing that his father is outstretched at the bottom of the sea, his bones deteriorating, there is a change, a certain change that involves wealth and the ringing of a bell possibly at death. "This music crept by me upon the waters/ Thence I have followed it, Or it hath drawn me rather; but 'tis gone"(1.2.392-94). This hodgepodge of imagery is somewhat chaotic sounding to Ferdinand's ears because he does not know where the music is coming from, or its intentional meanings.

At this point, Ferdinand is supposed to be looking for his father. Instead, he is distracted by Ariel's song, "And then take hands. Curtsied when you have and kissed / Th...


... middle of paper ...


...e subjected to winter: Ariel's song excludes misery.

Stephen Greenblatt describes Ariel's interruptions as an "artful manipulation of anxiety" (158). He notes that the events that take place lead one to believe that Ariel's purpose is to detract the mind from the mind's purpose. Ariel's tool of distraction makes way for unintended events to take place. Essentially due to the interruptions in The Tempest, they become distracting. The interruptions in The Tempest are subtle and not of the obvious.

Works Cited

Greenblatt, Stephen. "The Use of Salutary Anxiety in The Tempest." The Tempest. Ed. Robert Langbaum. Signet Classic Shakespeare. New York: Signet-NAL, 1998. 156-79. Rpt. from Shakespearean Negotiations. Berkeley: U of California P, 1988.

Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Ed. Robert Langbaum. Signet Classic Shakespeare. New York: Signet-NAL, 1998.

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