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Utopia – The Impossibility of Perfection

Utopia – The Impossibility of Perfection

“The latter end of [this] commonwealth forgets the beginning.” ?William Shakespeare, The Tempest

From Plato’s The Republic to Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, the search for a perfect social state has never stopped; its ultimate goal of achieving a human society that exists in absolute harmony with all due social justice, however, has proved to be woefully elusive. The pure concept of a utopia can be theoretically visualized as a perfect geometric circle: one that is seamless, all-inclusive, yet impossible to draw out in reality.

In 1516, Sir Thomas More depicted in his famed Utopia what he envisioned to be an ideal state?one that frees its citizens from material worries by mandating economical equality amongst them and dividing social responsibilities impartially. More’s work, however brilliant, cannot conceal the serious fallibilities and troublesome limitations of the utopian thoughts; and being the ambivalent creator that he was, More consciously emphasized the paradoxical nature of his ideal society. A century later, in his last work The Tempest, the great playwright William Shakespeare presented his audience with a mystical Commonwealth that is a reflection of the Golden Age from the classical literature. This fantasy, wrapped in the larger still whimsy that is The Tempest, will have the human race return to the purest state of nature. The Tempest, on the other hand, can be interpreted as a critique of the Utopian state. If the apparent paradise can only be sustained by magic and the deconstruction of human civilization, Shakespeare seems to imply, then utopia is altogether unachievable and impracticable.

There is little doubt that Sir Thomas More’s Utopia is a work of …

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…aults. The utopian philosophy falters because it refuses to address the darker side of the fundamentals of human nature?the foremost of which is greed and malice. It needs to be remembered that human evils breed oppressive systems, not vice versa. By revolutionizing the societal system into a form that is supposedly just, one does not redeem nor remedy the intrinsic moral defects of its citizens. The Utopian philosophy remains, after all the pursuits, a hollow icon on the altar of aspiration.

Works Cited

More, Thomas. Utopia. Robert M. Adams. New York: W. W. Norton, 1992.

Nietzsche, Fredrich. “Morals as Fossilized Violence.” The Prince. Robert M. Adams. New York: W. W. Norton, 1992.

Ovid. “The Golden Age.” Utopia. Robert M. Adams. New York: W. W. Norton, 1992.

Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Stanley Wells. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Emotional Poverty Within Material Wealth in Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare centers Romeo and Juliet on the tension of opposing forces, including the conspicuous dichotomies of life and death, peace and war, and young and old. But Shakespeare also explores the underlying theme of emotional poverty within material wealth.

The affluence of the Capulets is apparent in the first act, when the stage is continually adomed, between scenes, for the family’s banquet. First, before Juliet’s initial appearance in 1.3, long crimson tapestries are unfurled from the gallery to coverthe cracked marble ofthe facade, and the bench is given an ornate cushion and the fountain a decorative cover. Before 1.4, a festive garland is strung acrossthe gallery, and additional benches are carried onstage. Finally, before the masque begins in 1.5, candelabra with burning candles are brought in to flank the gallery. Romeo is seen brooding alone on the balcony. His first sighting of Juliet is then strikingly staged. All the revelers below, except Juliet, suddenly freeze in their motions, ghostly white masks held up to conceal their faces, and the stage darkens except for spotlights upon Romeo and Juliet. The grandeur of the Capulet home is dimmed into relative non-existence as Romeo and Juliet’s sudden love springs to life.

Shakespeare’s stopped-motion technique is employed once more during the masque, again to dramatic effect. After Tybalt’s rage against Romeo’s intrusion is quelled–by a slap trom Capulet–the stage is again darkened, and the partygoers are once more frozen. their faces concealed behind the masks. Romeo and Juliet speak with each other for the first time, gracefully dancing in an emotionally charred circle at centerstage, Romeo attired in green velvet and Juliet in a splen…

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… David Kortemeier depicts his earnest but ineffectual Friar Lawrence with dry humor and real fondness for Romeo. Shakespeare briskly paces the concluding scenes. He emphasizes the swiftness of events and multiplying misfortunes rather than lingering on moments as he had done with earlier sequences. This approach works welI in evoking the rapidity of the tragedy, but it deprives the play of some of its power. For example, Romeo’s dying kiss with Juliet is followed immediately, almost comically, by the entrance of the Friar, well before the tragic nature of the double-suicide has had a chance to be fully absorbed. Nevertheless this production is effective drama, due especially to directorial prowess and a slew of rich supporting perfommances.

Works Cited:

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Eds. Maynard Mack and Robert Bayton. Portsmouth: Heinemann, 1981.

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