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Conflict and Harmony in The Tempest

Conflict and Harmony in The Tempest

William Shakespeare describes a ‘utopic’ world saturated with supernatural images and ideas which works to create the mysterious island where The Tempest takes place. This is one of Shakespeare’s best examples of how a natural harmony reveals itself through the actions of discourse and confusion. To illustrate this idea best one must examine the historical context upon which The Tempest is based. Because this play was published in the early 1600s, controversial cultural and political events undoubtedly surface. Furthermore, by analyzing the sub-plots in the play, the reader has a better understanding of Shakespeare’s purpose for including multi-plots, which is to create conflicts that all have a different context but coexist to create a more natural harmony. Finally, one must recognize that the moral conflict that characters face in The Tempest is crucial in understanding the harmony that is created. For example, it is important to realize that although the play ends with reconciliation for most of the characters, it does not have the same effect on all of the characters. Therefore, by examining the effects of the historical context, the inclusion of sub-plots, and the importance of moral conflict the reader may take a more comprehensive approach in understanding how Shakespeare finds a harmonious closure in The Tempest.

In 1623, The Tempest made its debut in Shakespeare’s First Folio of works (Hirst 36). Historically, this play is different from Shakespeare’s later plays in that he divides it into acts and scenes and leaves the island nameless (Hirst 36). In other plays such as Twelfth Night and Merchant of Venice, where the same natural harmony is ultimately c…

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… F. (Ed.) Shakespeare: Modern Essays in Criticism. New York: Oxford, 1957.

Hatch, James V. Black Theater, U.S.A.: 45 Plays by Black Americans, 1847-1974. New York: The Free Press, 1974.

Hay, Samuel A. African American Theatre: An Historical and Critical Analysis. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Hill, Errol (ed). The Theatre of Black Americans: A Collection of Critical Essays. New York: Applause Theatre Book Publishers, 1987.

Hill, Errol. Shakespeare in Sable: A History of Black Shakespearean Actors. Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1984.

Marshal, Herbert and Mildred Stock. Ira Aldridge: The Negro Tragedian. Rockcliff: London, 1958.

Hirst, David. Notes on The Tempest. London: Ginn, 1969.

Vaughan, Alden T. and Virginia Mason Vaughan. Shakespeare’s Caliban: A Cultural History. New York: Cambridge, 1991.

Role of Women in Shakespeare’s Othello

Role of Women in Shakespeare’s Othello

In Shakespeare’s Othello, the role of women is greatly emphasized. The important characters of the play, Othello, Iago, and Cassio, each have a women that stands behind him. These women each have an obligation to remain loyal and respect their husband’s wishes, especially Desdemona and Emilia.

We see Desdemona as a young beautiful white female, madly in love with a powerful black man. She is strong inside but doesn’t tend to show that side of her as much as she would want to. She tends to play the peace-maker in her marriage and is always trying to understand Othello. Throughout the play she struggles to prove her loyalty and respect to her husband, no matter what it takes she tries to be a good wife.

At the beginning of the play when Brabantio, confronts Othello and Desdemona about their relationship, she does not hesitate to defend her husband to her father, regardless of the consequences she faced. She is brought in by her father to the court to be questioned for her actions, she replies with utter respect to her father, but devotion to her husband”. To you I am bound for life and education….I am hitherto your daughter. But here is my husband. And so much duty as my mother showed to you, preferring you before her father…(act1,sc3L210). In other words, she is grateful to her father for what he has given to her but will stand by the side of her husband, as any women should.

Even while Othello is accusing her of having an affair with Cassio, and insulting her calling her a whore, her responsibility of standing by her man and trying to understand him still remains. As angered as she may be with what he just called her, she questions him politely, as to why he is saying …

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The role these women had to take on in this play, was probably not to far from the way it really was for women during that time, and for some couples, the way it is today. I would hate to think that men can still have this philosophy, but I know it still exists. Some men still think that women need to stay home and take care of the kids, clean the house, cook, while he goes out and makes the money. So since they are making the money, they then feel like they can control their wives. They expect them to stand by them, not go against them, and agree with them all the time. That may have been the normal way to do things in the 1600’s in Cypress, but that kind of thing can not go on in an American society, in 1999. The role of the modern women is now very visible, but there are a lot of stereotypes out there and hopefully one day women will finally be equal to men.

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