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The Tempest: A Travel Through Shakespearian “Tragicomedy”

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William Shakespeare had cultivated the literary arts world through both his mystic playwrights as well through his sonnets, through his literary arts he had inspired many and had opened a realm of writing for many individuals, for instance, his creation of a “tragicomedy” a playwright with the concepts of both tragedy and comedy. This can be very relative in his final playwright wherein, The Tempest, Shakespeare illustrated a world which had primarily displayed characteristics of a tragedy, while also embedding aspects of a comedy to convey that manipulating those around you could lead to a mutually-benefiting, outcome.

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Within The Tempest, Prospero had controlled the environment around him, and the others on the island, to create an emotional response of fear of him by all others that had shipwrecked on the island at his will. Immediately following the shipwreck because of the tempest the crew of the boat including the king abandoned ship and swam to the island, while this had an accord to, Prospero and Miranda where confronting Caliban.

Where Caliban then decides he must obey his master because Prospero’s magic had been so powerful that it would “make a vassal of [my god].” (1.2.448-450) The subject of Prospero’s magic had been compared to the powers of a god. The quote had been fitting because of the effect of Prospero’s magic and the powers of a god had created the characteristic that with his magic he can and will influence other subjects, and can create a life-altering fear in those who oppose him as seen through the conversation with Caliban. This had been significant because Prospero is not a god but was just a fool with a book, in reality, he had studied magic and had been very well mannered in the ways of magic, because of his understanding of magic he makes himself only to seem godlike to take control of others as seen between him and Caliban.

In the case of tragedy vs. comedy, this example shows a strong case of tragedy because of Caliban’s emotional response containing a hateful bitterness for Prospero. The fact that Caliban is a slave for Prospero and more importantly, the fear that Prospero could do anything towards Caliban at any given time. After completing all of her tasks that Prospero had originally assigned for her, Ariel feels as though she has done more work for Prospero that should be required of her. Prospero feels differently as he tells her that if she speaks any more of the subject, he will “rend an oak and peg thee in his knotty entrails” for twelve years. (1.2.349-351) The exaggerated thought of incarcerating Ariel within an oak tree for twelves years serves to express the annoyance that Prospero had with Ariel focusing solely on her freedom. Through Prospero’s profound stature, the reader comes to a more in-depth understanding that Prospero’s magical powers go beyond what immediately meets the eye. If Prospero can control a wind nymph to live out twelve years of its life just because of his frustration with her, there had been a useful ability present which naturally shows an emotional fear reaction from Ariel. As the play concludes, Ariel does finish her pact with Prospero which had been the only reason for why she Prospero had not killed her. This further provides evidence that The Tempest had been primarily a tragedy while also incorporating comedic aspect because of Ariel demonstrating her self-concern over her and Prospero’s original deal that they had made with each other. In total, she still that there is faith within Prospero to do the right thing; she still hopes that he will even release her from his servitude.

Prospero’s control over the crew of the ship including the king and all others on board disperses them all around the island further leads into the nature of the play representing a tragedy more so than a comedy. For instance, because of the play representing a tragedy over a comedy it can be seen through the drunk crewmates, Stephano and Trinculo, had found each other on the island and at the same time discovered the witch-devil, Caliban, where he then swears his loyalty to them for their alcohol in which Trinculo says that he finds “this puppy-headed monster. A most scurvy monster” to be quite entertaining. (2.2.160-161) The parallel structure shows the reader the comedic nature of Caliban’s drunken request to serve Stephano and Trinculo, while also exhibiting the more important tragic struggle, dealing with social factor norms. This had been significant because Caliban did not have any freedom from anyone because he was a Prospero’s slave mainly because Prospero had the power of magic to fight against Caliban. Another significant reason had been that Caliban was an unloved witch-demon who had been a native to the island and had allowed to be stolen by Prospero when he escaped to the island. And another signifigance of the quote had been that Caliban had decided to serve with Stephano and Trinculo only because of the promises Caliban the opportunity to kill Prospero, for the sake of getting revenge on stealing his island.

Although this event showed numerous scenes of comedy, it still was not as severe as the tragedy at the beginning of the play, when Prospero initiates the tempest that had destroyed the ship in the play; but still, it seemed that there had a higher influence of tragedy over comedy in the play. Although there had been many strong influences of tragedy within in the Tempest, influences of comedy had been intertwined into the events occurring as the play had progressed. Immediately after Alonso discovers that his son was not with him, he concludes that his son had not survived the tempest that was believed to tear apart the ship and that his son has been killed off by the storm because of drowning in the water. Alonso’s brother then notes how they all were giving the king “comfort like cold porridge” considering that Alonso had been mourning the loss of his son. (2.1.3) Shakespeare uses situational irony when depicting the scene to which Alonso realizes his son is not on the beach. In the resolution, Ferdinand must have died out in the sea after the ship had torn apart, but in reality, Ferdinand had been alive and trying to marry Miranda after viewing how beautiful she had been; all of which was a part of Prospero’s plan. Through this scene and the device of irony, the author shows the comedic nature by using diction and quotes through the play while also showcasing the tragic characteristics of human suffering, emotional responses from individuals, and the painful struggle, all influencing the appearance of comedy throughout the play. The irony concludes that the all of this had been a part of Prospero’s control of everybody that had been on the island. When the play is slowly coming to an end, Alonso meets back up with Ferdinand, who had gotten married to Miranda, therefore creating a reconstruction of a treaty between Prospero-Alonso as well leading to a mutually-beneficial relationship between each other in the result of the play.

In Conclusion, The Tempest, although containing a variety of examples in which the concept of Comedic influences is laced throughout the play to create a more in-depth analytical view, with more aspects of a tragedy. Through the given examples, it was clear that Shakespeare had been trying to show that the controlling factor of those around you could lead to a mutually-benefiting, outcome.

Cite this The Tempest: A Travel Through Shakespearian “Tragicomedy”

The Tempest: A Travel Through Shakespearian “Tragicomedy”. (2021, May 26). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-tempest-a-travel-through-shakespearian-tragicomedy/

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