Literature Representing a Controlling Past

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"Moreover, the style and form of The Tempest engage the audience textually with the same issues of control and mastery-the problem of power-that are brought into sharp focus by considerations of historical context" (McDonald 101).

Shakespeare's plays are, as I would say, the best of the past. These pieces of literature show how history had a controlling force upon people. This quote states that "the audience connects with the text and also with power." Many parts of history show how rulers controlled many people. For example, Hitler controlled how he wanted society to look and run. These plays, such as The Tempest provide us with details of how that time period was.

McDonald adds that "From the confused echoes of the first scene ("We split, we split!") through Prospero's re-creation of the past ("Twelve year since, Miranda, twelve year since") to the pleasing assonantal chiming of the Epilogue, aural patterns impart a distinctive texture to this text" (101).

This type of language may provide the reader, based on a textual viewpoint, with supporting details of how the people during his time period were feeling. This type of repetition may mean that people were trying to emphasize certain words so the reader could understand specific points.

So a question that I thought of was:

Do you think that poetic form (such as repetition and rhyme) is used so that the reader can take a view of history or is it only because it makes that piece of literature better?

Click here for th web page devoted to McDonald

4 Comments

To answer your question, I think that Shakespeare used repetition to emphasize an important point of some kind. I don't think he meerly did it for show. I believe that he wanted to call the reader's attention to some plot device or, as you mentioned, history.

To answer your question, I think that Shakespeare used repetition to emphasize an important point of some kind. I don't think he meerly did it for show. I believe that he wanted to call the reader's attention to some plot device or, as you mentioned, history.

Derek, I don’t think that the repetition and rhyme was meant to make the "reader" take a view on history. Coming from the standpoint of author intention, Shakespeare would not have expected people to read his play on paper. He would have intended for people to hear the language as they watched the play performed. However, the repetition and rhyme can be important in shaping an audience’s impressions of the work. Therefore, the fact the Shakespeare used so much repetition and rhyme (which can be heard) instead of say enjambment (which can only be observed upon a page) is notable. So I certainly think he is doing it for some reason, as Angela already commented. It’s hard to say what that reason is though and McDonald provides no answer to this ambiguity.

I agree with Greta-Shakespeare wrote his plays for an both an aural and a visual audience, not simply a visual one, and there is a big difference between reading the words stage directions and watching the actual performance. I'm not sure if this repetition surrounds important points, although it is completely possible that this is true, but instead I think that this was done for more stylistic purposes that the aural version of the play can illustrate. Basically, the repitition sounds better and more mysterious to the audience than the play with a lack of this addition. Also, Shakespeare could have included this patterns in order to fit his traditional format.

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This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on February 7, 2009 3:03 PM.

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