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The Tempest - How does Shakespeare maintain dramatic interest in Act 1 Scene 2.

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare maintain dramatic interest in Act 1 Scene 2? The relative calm of Act 1 Scene 2 provides a sharp contrast with disorderly melodrama of the previous scene. The second scene of act one recounts the story of how Prospero and Miranda came to be on the island, introduces Ariel and Caliban and shows Ferdinand come ashore and fall in love at first sight. The scene begins with Miranda expressing her alarm that her father has caused the 'wild waters' with his 'art'. Despite the immediately evident slower moving pace of the scene, created by the longer and more ordered speech of the characters, Shakespeare still creates dramatic interest with this line by altering the audience's perceptions of what has happened in the previous scene. The Tempest is a play where things seem to happen, yet often do not. The storm in the previous scene seems to be natural, yet Miranda's revelation it makes irony of the boatswain's line 'What care these roarers for the name of the king?', again transforming the audience's perceptions. The 'roarers' are merely the work of Prospero who knows well the king. ...read more.

Middle

Several other characters in the play also seek to assert to their claim upon the island (ie Caliban, 'This island's mine'), evoking the notion of colonialism and power over territory. Within Act 1, parallels can also be drawn by the audience between Antonio's theft of Prospero's kingdom and Prospero's theft of Caliban's island. The mirroring of the two events would help an audience to find continuity between Prospero's past and his present situation, maintaining a dramatic interest. Within the language of Prospero and Miranda there is also much to keep and audience occupied. To begin with Prospero talks in near riddles with a strangely repetitive speech 'There's no harm done...No harm I have done...but in care of thee, of thee my dear one thee my daughter'. Prospero's language as he recounts their story is, however, very different. The language is condensed in order to avoid an overlong recitation of events. Note the omission of pronouns 'to my state grew stranger, being transported and rapt in secret studies'. The language of characters who arrive later in the scene, Ariel and Caliban is also interesting. Ariel, a spirit, uses language full of movement 'be't to fly, to swim to dive into the fire, to ride on the curled clouds', while Caliban use base language of the earth and animals 'the fresh springs, brine pits, barren place...toads, beetles bats'. ...read more.

Conclusion

There is also an interest contrast between non-human Ariel who often has more compassion than the humans around him. Ferdinand and Caliban represent very contrasting suitors to Miranda. Themes of the scene tend to revolve around the responsibilities of power. Who has the right to control the island? As Caliban says 'This island's mine, by Sycorax my mother'. Prospero has already had his kingdom usurped by Antonio for which he accepts some of his own fault. His 'trust...sans bound'. Prospero neglected his state by 'being...rapt in secret studies', yet has stolen Caliban's island. This is similar to the Elizabethan colonialists who would steal land in the Americas, often on the false grounds that the original inhabitants were not human. To the audience of the time the parallels would be obvious. This would put Act 1 Scene 2, and the play in a very different light. By using the devices I have mentioned above, Shakespeare retains the audience's interest for the duration of Act 1 Scene 2. Although Shakespeare attempts to give the context of the play within the story of the scene, it is often too explicit to be the real words of the characters. Nonetheless, by using the protagonists to set the scene for the play rather than a detached narrator Shakespeare is on the whole successful in maintaining dramatic interest. ...read more.

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