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The arras in Shakespeare. From the tiny glimpse of Shakespearean plays I have studied I have seen continuous occurrences of the arras devise, where it has been used in many different ways to cause many different effects. In all the arrases that occurre

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How does Shakespeare use the arras device for particular effect? Throughout his plays Shakespeare weaves the arras device skilfully into his plots shaping the characters involved, the genre, and the outcome of the tale. The arras technique was frequently used during Elizabethan times for dramatic effect and to emphasising the theatrical theme; it is still commonly practiced to this day. The literal definition for an arras is a wall-hanging, however, the purpose is concealment, meaning that an arras can take many forms both physical and metaphorical. Shakespeare uses the device to develop characterisation and to exaggerate comedy, betrayal and dramatic irony. The use of the arras for different effect is used in all the Shakespearean plays I have studied. The traditional form of an arras was a wall hanging or tapestry hiding an individual from the other characters. This barrier would permit a person to hide from another, allowing the person hiding to listen, concealed, to what the other person was saying or doing. Shakespeare uses this method in Cymbeline, when Iachimo is unwittingly taken into Imogen's chamber "To the trunk again, and shut the spring of it." Iachimo hides in the trunk, because he wants his presence to be secret, he knows the trunk will be taken to Imogen's room so manages to pass by her guards and maids unseen. When Imogen's maid enters her rooms she immediately asks "Who's there? my woman Helen?" This method is repeatedly applied in The Merry Wives of Windsor, when Falstaff hides from mistress Page and when he is carried out of Mistress Fords' house in a laundry basket covered in dirty washing, unknown by Mr Ford, who is angrily searching for him. ...read more.


The style of deceit is repeated for Beatrice by Hero and her maid, who in turn talk of Benedick's love for Beatrice and Beatrice's character. The plan is also prepared prior to the advent and is run over before Beatrice appears on stage. This is shown when Hero reminds Ursula of the arrangement; when "Beatrice doth come, As we do trace this alley up and down, Our talk must only be of Benedick." In this scene the arras Beatrice tries to hide behind, are different garden features, which change as she follows Hero and Ursula into her trap. This use of the arras devise allows a character to think he or she is hidden with no-one else having knowledge of their location. However, the audience knows this is not the case and the other characters can use their awareness of the arras in whichever way they like and as shown in this play; as a form of trickery, The third form of the arras used is in the form of deception of an object and in this case a person; Hero. The trickery is devised by Don Pedro's bastard brother, Don John, in an attempt to ruin Claudio and Hero's wedding plans and he accomplishes this by casting aspersions on Hero's character. The arras used here is in the form of mistaken identity, when Claudio believes that Margaret is Hero and he is convinced by what he thinks is evidence of Hero's infidelity and so rufuses to marry "an approved wanton". As planned by Don John the wedding fails, and Hero, affronted by these charges faints. ...read more.


The arras devise can also be the foundation of the audience's feelings towards certain characters, the audience's feelings about a certain character can be shaped by the use of the arras and this is shown in Shakespeare's play Cymbeline. Spectators' views towards Iachimo are affected by his unwanted, unknown presence and how venerable Imogen is lying completely oblivious in her bed. He seems to take advantage of her defencelessness by using the arras of sleep to be somewhat controlling and creepy which could easily unnerve the audience. Although this form of arras is not literal and is not an object which conceals him, it is in some ways even more affective in portraying the true characteristics of Iachimo. Viewers of the play, I believe, would feel uneasy about Iachimo's next actions after his comment 'Our Tarquin thus did softly press the rushes, ere he waken'd the chastity he wounded.' This would be because Iachimo seems to take pride in comparing himself to Tarquin a well known story in Elizabethan times. From the tiny glimpse of Shakespearean plays I have studied I have seen continuous occurrences of the arras devise, where it has been used in many different ways to cause many different effects. In all the arrases' that occurred the purpose accomplished, while highlighting and exaggerating dramatic effect. The devise plays a very important part in all the plays, and I do truly believe that the arras devise greatly affects the outcome of the play. Si�n Parkinson 11 Latymer ...read more.

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