Monday, September 2, 2019
The Theatre Metaphor in The Tempest :: Tempest essays
The Theatre Metaphor in The Tempest Ã The theatre metaphor also helps to explain why, in the last analysis, Prospero has to surrender his magical powers. Life cannot be lived out in the world of illusions, delightful and educative as they can often be. Life must be lived in the real world, in Milan or in Naples, and Miranda cannot thus entirely fulfill herself on the island. The realities of life must be encountered and dealt with as best we can. The world of the theatre can remind us of things we may too easily forget; it can liberate and encourage youthful wonder and excitement at all the diverse richness of life; it can, at times, even wake people up to more important issues than their own Machiavellian urge to self-aggrandizement, and, most important of all, it can educate us into forgiveness. But it can never finally solve the problem of evil, and it can never provide an acceptable environment for a fully realized adult life. Ã Prospero, as I see it, doesn't start the play fully realizing all this. He launches his experiment from a mixture of motives, perhaps not entirely sure what he going to do (after all, one gets the sense that there's a good deal of improvising going on). But he learns in the play to avoid the twin dangers to his experiment, the two main threats to the value of his theatrical magic. Ã The first I have already alluded to, namely, the danger of using of his powers purely for vengeance. Prospero, like Shakespeare, is a master illusionist, and he is tempted to channel his personal frustrations into his art, to exact vengeance against wrongs done in Milan through the power of his art (perhaps, as some have argued, as Shakespeare is doing for unknown personal reasons against women in Hamlet and Lear). But he learns from Ariel that to do this is to deny the moral value of the art, whose major purpose is to reconcile us to ourselves and our community, not to even a personal score. Ã The second great threat which we see in this play is that Prospero may get too involved in his own wonderful capabilities, he may become too much the showman, too proud of showing off his skill to attend to the final purpose of what he is doing.