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Explore the dramatic impact of the tempest scene in Act 1, Scene 1 in The Tempest.

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Introduction

Explore the dramatic impact of the tempest scene in Act 1, Scene 1 in The Tempest. You should consider the development of the character thorough action and dialogue; the use of stage space and other stage effects; and finally the likely effects upon a Jacobean audience and a modern one. The Tempest was written in 1606-1611 and can be described as a 'late play' or a 'tragicomedy'. It is a play that looks at human emotions and characters that are put under pressure. The first scene is one, I think, of importance since it introduces the courtiers and show us their true characters. It is also exciting, which means that the audience will be interested from the moment the play starts. The Tempest was possibly one of the last plays Shakespeare wrote. By this time Shakespeare would have been famous throughout England and so there would have been much expectation surrounding the play. Therefore it was necessary that the first scene be one of great impact. In order to create a scene of dramatic effect that will make people interested in the play there must be a powerful image such as a storm, a tempest. However with limited resources Shakespeare had to make the scene authentic through the actors. The illusion of the ship can be made by the actors' tone of voices, actions and movements. For example the dialogue in the first scene is mostly one of commotion and shouting such as "all lost! To prayers, to prayers, all lost!" "We split, we split!" "Farewell, my wife and children!" "Farewell brother!" "We split, we split, we split!" Lots of imperatives are used such as "Take in the topsail!" ...read more.

Middle

If you cannot, give thanks that you have lived so long, and make yourself ready in your cabin for the mischance of the hour, if so hap..." Alonso tries to maintain an air of authority by trying to give the boatswain imposing advice such as "Good boatswain, have care. Where's the master? Play the men." This scene carries a lot of symbolism and themes that are carried on through the rest of the play, for example the inversion of the social hierarchy as the boatswain says about the king. This is the first power struggle of the play. The boatswain makes the point that although the king has divine right, he has absolutely no power over nature, and therefore he is futile in a circumstance like this. We also see that nature or situations like the storm should and could only be resolved by those who are able to. In turn Prospero manipulates the situation, almost with a divine control, he is the only one who can put an end to the story. This is a reflection of Prospero's control over the royal party. Although they think that they have eradicated him, and are in control, like nature, Prospero has in fact got a firm grip on their lives. We can also see how helpless humans are in the face of nature. Although we like to think that we have control over it we are in fact at its mercy and in a very vulnerable position. This theme of usurpation carries on throughout the play as we see Antonio and Sebastian's attempted regicide and fratricide of Alonso and Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano's parody of an assassination Prospero. In comparison to other storms in Shakespeare's plays I think that The Tempest has the most dramatic impact. ...read more.

Conclusion

I think that this was very ineffective because it lacked the dramatic impact that the first scene would have had if it were included and there was no show of the power struggles, no introduction to characters. The second production I have seen of The Tempest is by John Gorrie. Although the acting was very bad, the scene took place on a "proper" ship and incorporated the full scene. There were realistic sounds and special effects such as the rocking of the ship and rain. I also felt more of a sense that this was something very exciting and that hopefully the rest of the production would be too. I also saw an entirely different form of The Tempest in Peter Greenaway's adaptation, Prospero's Books. It starts off with an old man speaking of his books, what powers they possess, what they are called. Echoes can start to be heard of the dialogue from the storm sequence. We see the old man writing some of the dialogue as it is being said. Some footage of raindrops is inserted between shots. The setting of the scene suddenly changes to what looks like a Turkish bath with the old man bathing in it. We soon see a child swinging on a swing above. The dialogue of the storm sequence was still echoing around while the child (playing Ariel) continued to urinate on a toy ship in the middle of the bath, to represent Ariel's construction of the storm. The intention of this production may have been symbolic but I found it all rather confusing and much less dramatic than the BBC production, which had a lower quality of acting and probably not as much to spend in the way of the setting and special effects. Houmi Miura ...read more.

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