Expectancy + No Answer ≠ Pleasure

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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.    

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