Expectancy + No Answer ≠ Pleasure
From Ross McDonald’s “Reading The Tempest”:
“ it promises much and delivers little, and I propose that it is just this dynamic that makes The Tempest uncommonly meaningful” (105).
Well, I liked McDonald’s essay better than Yachnin’s, yet at the same time McDonald’s essay leaves me feeling unfulfilled. I found McDonald’s arguments to be much more believable than Yachnin’s. I was amazed by some of the alliteration, the contrasts between simple and complex dictions, etc that he cites. I felt he did a very good job setting his argument up and showing through many aspects on the sentence and word level that he analyzed the work well. But I kept waiting and waiting and asking myself, “yes, yes, I see what you’re saying Mr. McDonald, but where’s the meaning?” There are these patterns, but why does Shakespeare do it? I found McDonald’s answer unrewarding. He tells us that the “meaning remains necessarily elusive” (107) and that Shakespeare purposefully builds up this suspense to cause “pleasure” in the reader from a sense of “expectancy.” Yet, I find this to be a very unrewarding answer. I mean, I suppose in many ways this mimics life itself and in fact our very understanding of literature and language. One will never know for sure, one must always question. I just find it frustrating to read an essay with a final resolution that everything is ambiguous. I didn’t need to read an essay to find that out—not that I mean to say there was no value in McDonald’s essay, as I said I found it more believable than Yachnin’s. But personally, I find no “pleasure” in having my “expectancy” built up only to find there is no answer.