Analysis of Shakespeare's The Tempest - Effective Use of the Cliffhanger

Analysis of Shakespeare's The Tempest - Effective Use of the Cliffhanger

Length: 961 words (2.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓


The Tempest:  Effective Use of the Cliffhanger

The first scene of The Tempest is unlike most of the openings in Shakespeare's plays, in that includes quite a bit of action. Instead of properly introducing some of the main characters, or setting up an important plot strand, this opening scene appears to be only an attention-grabbing device.

            This statement can be made quite justifiably, due to the fact that all the events of Act 1 Scene 1 are recounted in the following scene, in the conversations between Miranda, Prospero and Ariel. Under ordinary circumstances, it is quite likely that Shakespeare would have removed the first scene and just relied upon the audience paying attention to what was being said in the second scene - indeed, if these events took place some way into the play, he may have considered doing this. However, as an opening scene, Scene 2 would have been rather boring and uninspiring - it consists almost entirely of lengthy explanatory dialogue from Prospero. Audiences would not have been drawn into the play very effectively; and at the time the play was written, during the 17th Century, audiences were not as reserved and polite as they are these days and they might not have reacted very well to being bored.

            Scene 1 solves this problem by abandoning all explanation of the events unfolding, as well as much of the characterisation and concentrating on creating an exciting and tense opening scene which immediately engages the audience's attention. Theatres of the time when The Tempest was written were very basic, and would not have been able to achieve the special effects and clever sets that we see in modern theatres. Therefore, Shakespeare had to rely on more subtle, but equally effective, techniques to convey the correct atmosphere.

            One of the most obvious things about this first scene is how short the characters'  lines are. There is just one moderately sized speech, lines 20 - 25, but the rest are all only four to six lines long. This hurried dialogue immediately signals that the characters are panicking, and that they do not have time for long conversations. From the script itself, we can see that there are an awful lot of exclamation marks in the dialogue; this is because the characters are shouting to be heard above the noise of the storm.

            While nowadays the storm would probably be created using recordings of thunder and crashing waves, perhaps along with creaking sounds of the ship breaking up, theatre in Shakespeare's day would not have had this luxury.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Analysis of Shakespeare's The Tempest - Effective Use of the Cliffhanger." 123HelpMe.com. 17 Jan 2020
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=2860>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Juxtaposition Of Caliban 's Mental And Physical State Throughout The Tempest By William Shakespeare

- The juxtaposition of Caliban’s mental and physical state throughout the “Tempest” hints that this paradoxical statement may be true. The ambivalence of Caliban’s “brutal” and “sensitive” being comes predominantly, but not consistently, through the medium of his physical appearance and his diction respectively. This “sensitive” aspect of Caliban is amplified further when his character is analysed from the viewpoint of the modern era. These audiences are far more sympathetic to this “abhorred slave” than that of the Shakespearian era as a result of the extensive colonial expansion of the British Empire that took place during this time, concluding in audiences being far more hostile to any nati...   [tags: The Tempest, William Shakespeare, Audience]

Research Papers
1052 words (3 pages)

Essay on Power By William Shakespeare 's The Tempest

- Power is defined as the competency or the ability to determine the behavior of other individual or the outcomes of certain circumstances. For most, blood is their direct entrance into their position in the social hierarchy and for the most elite, it is almost as if these individuals are born with an innate ability to give orders, enforce obedience and exercise their authority at will. William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, presents the prevailing theme of power. This play constantly introduces conflicts between those in power and those suppressed by it....   [tags: The Tempest, Moons of Uranus, Prospero]

Research Papers
951 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on Importance of Language in Shakespeare's The Tempest

-    There are many different interpretations and differences of opinion regarding the genre of The Tempest, a play by William Shakespeare. In the essays "The Backward Voice": Puns and the Comic Subplot of The Tempest, by Maurice Hunt, and The Tempest as Romance and Anti-Romance, by Richard Hillman, the genre of the play is discussed in depth. Using elements such as setting, lines of the characters, and the action that occurs in the play, the authors evaluate Shakespeare's play The Tempest to be a romance with a "comic subplot", and thereby show how important the interpretation of the language and interaction is in finding meaning in the play....   [tags: The Tempest Essays]

Research Papers
1862 words (5.3 pages)

Essay about Quest for Power In The Tempest

- Quest for Power In The Tempest      I suggest that engraved into humanity's essence is the intense desire for power. William Shakespeare's play, The Tempest not only depicts this concept, but breaks it down for the reader; enabling effective analysis of this concept. Through notable characterization, Shakespeare is able to convey key concepts regarding the idea of power versus ambition. Specifically, the role that ambition and the moderation of one's ambition play in the effectiveness of control....   [tags: Tempest essays]

Research Papers
1205 words (3.4 pages)

Dual Personas Revealed in The Epilogue of "The Tempest" and The Custom House of "The Scarlet Letter"

- It’s 6:30 a.m. and the alarm clock begins to ring. I get up and get ready for school. I arrive at school and see that everyone is happy and talkative. I feel normal, not really willing to talk or even smile. I feel very different from others. I hardly talk and I just don’t feel like myself at school. Once the bell rings to go home, I burst out the doors and out to be myself again. I’m two completely different people. At school, I’m just a regular serious kid. When I get home, that’s where the party begins and when I am able to become myself again....   [tags: The Tempest, Scarlet Letter]

Research Papers
850 words (2.4 pages)

tempcolon Confronting Colonialism and Imperialism in Aime Cesaire's A Tempest

- Confronting Colonialism in A Tempest     A Tempest by Aime Cesaire is an attempt to confront and rewrite the idea of colonialism as presented in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  He is successful at this attempt by changing the point of view of the story.  Cesaire transforms the characters and transposes the scenes to reveal Shakespeare’s Prospero as the exploitative European power and Caliban and Ariel as the exploited natives.  Cesaire’s A Tempest is an effective response to Shakespeare’s The Tempest because he interprets it from the perspective of the colonized and raises a conflict with Shakespeare as an icon of the literary canon....   [tags: Tempest essays]

Research Papers
1397 words (4 pages)

Sources of Conflict in Shakespeare's “The Tempest” Essay

- Throughout “The Tempest”, the majority of conflict surrounds Prospero and Caliban. Their exchanges comprise of vulgar words, such as Prospero threatening Caliban and calling him ‘Thou poisonous slave’, and Caliban cursing Prospero, ‘and blister you all o’er’. Before we meet Caliban, we are told that he is of North-African descent, when Ariel said Sycorax was from ‘Algiers’, a place in North-Africa. He is depicted as a ‘salvage and deformed slave’ by The Folio’s ‘Names of the Actors’ and to a Jacobean audience, the word ‘salvage’ referred to a ‘wild and uncivilised’ person, and they believed that these ‘salvages’ were below their civilised counterparts in the social hierarchy....   [tags: intolerance, beliefs, dehumanizing]

Research Papers
545 words (1.6 pages)

William Shakespeare's The Tempest Act One, Scene One Essay

- William Shakespeare's The Tempest Act One, Scene One This scene introduces the play, and is set during on a ship during a ferocious storm. The passengers are the royal party of the King of Naples, and include the King Alonso, his brother Sebastian, the Prince Ferdinand, and the King's counsellors, Gonzalo and Antonio. The storm, which begins the play, isn't real, but has been conjured by Prospero, a magus, to lure the passengers to his island. This storm is also representation of the metaphorical storm which involves the tumultuous emotions of the play's characters as it continues....   [tags: Papers]

Research Papers
632 words (1.8 pages)

Essay on The Relationship Between Miranda and Prospero in The Tempest

- The Relationship Between Miranda and Prospero in The Tempest Works Cited Missing Act one scene two opens with Miranda and Prospero standing on an island, after having just witnessed a shipwreck. Right from the first line we can establish the relationship between Miranda and Prospero, "My dearest father" (line 1.) As the scene commences, we begin to learn a great deal about the two roles....   [tags: Papers]

Free Essays
772 words (2.2 pages)

Essay on Effective Leaders

- From an organizational perspective there has become an increased interest in employee thinking, and feelings about their jobs. Also there exists an interest in what the employees are willing to dedicate to the organization. In the past, research has demonstrated that leadership, specifically charismatic leadership can affect the meaningfulness of employees’ work as measured by work engagement. When employees are engaged in their work they increase the occurrence of behaviors that promote efficient, and effective functioning of the organization (Babcock-Roberson & Strickland, 2010)....   [tags: Leadership]

Research Papers
1715 words (4.9 pages)

Related Searches

They would have had to make do with physically making as much noise as possible and hope that it sounded like thunder. Similarly, whereas we would probably use some clever strobe lighting technique today, Shakespeare would have been more restricted. They may have been forced to use measures such as explosives or brightly flaming chemicals. It is also worth remembering that people at the time read far more into thunder and lightning than we do today; whereas we consider it just a case of bad weather, they may have interpreted it in a more religious, spiritual way. Incidentally, it was these sort of rough-edged special effects' that led to the eventual burning down of the Globe Theatre.

            To compliment the hurried and anxious speech, the characters are constantly coming on and off stage; this again lets the audience know that they are very busy. These are very simple ways of conveying tension and excitement but they work remarkably well. The tension builds swiftly during the scene, as nerves fray and the characters get increasingly panicked - the conversation between the Boatswain and the passengers Antonio and Alonso becomes more and more heated; they eventually resort to insults, although they should be pulling together under such circumstances.

            Perhaps the single most effective technique used here to convey the right atmosphere is that of the cry within.' This is when somebody shouts something off-stage. For example, lines 58 - 61 read:

A confused noise within: "Mercy on us!•˜

"We split, we split!•˜"Farewell, my wife and children!•˜

"Farewell, brother!•˜"We split, we split, we split!•

 

Shakespeare's theatre had no effective way of showing the breaking up of the ship on stage, so he resorts to this indirect method, thereby leaving the destruction of ship entirely to the audience's imagination. This is far more effective than anything they could have physically achieved on stage; indeed, even a modern theatre would have difficulty enacting this. It would only really be possible to show directly in a film, which, of course, had not even been dreamt of in the 17th Century.

            This scene would undoubtedly focus the attention of any audience, if it was portrayed effectively. However, this would not necessarily stop their minds wandering during the next scene, which, as mentioned above, is very dialogue-driven. Therefore, Shakespeare relies on something which has become almost a cliché on modern television drama: He uses a cliffhanger. A cliffhanger is a technique used in all story-telling media (films, television, novels, theatre...) whereby the audience is left uncertain as to the ending for a certain amount of time. It is then hoped that the same audience will return to see the next instalment to find out what happens next. Therefore, Act 1 Scene 1 of The Tempest ends with the audience unsure as to whether anybody on the boat survived. A little way into the next scene we find out the fate of the crew and passengers and, by that time, our attention is more-or-less guaranteed.

            By using these various techniques, Shakespeare manages to achieve with this scene that which every writer aspires to do; that is, draw the audience into the plot and make them want to find out more.

 
Return to 123HelpMe.com