The Tempest theme on illusion
The Tempest: Illusions An illusion is an incorrect or distorted perception of a real situation. The Tempest, written by Shakespeare in 1600-1611, uses illusion in many different ways. I am going to juxtapose the play with the There are 4 different aspects to the play, which are Magic, Deception, Dreams, and the Theatre. I am going to study 3 different episodes in the play where Illusion is relevant, and I will consider the ways illusion is presented. Illusion is a prevalent theme throughout both the play and the film, where it is amplified by the use of special effects.
The first aspect that I am going to expand on is Magic. This is an aspect that creates illusions. The Tempest itself, was an illusion created by Prospero’s magic. I will be examining Act 1, where there are numerous episodes surrounding the aspect of magic. “Hell is empty and all the devils are here,” Ferdinand had screamed as he threw himself from the burning ship during the tempest. The ship burned but it didn’t get torn apart or wrecked. The ship was taken safely into the harbour and the crew was magically charmed to sleep.
Prospero had even told Miranda that “not so much perdition as an hair/ Betid to any creature in the vessel/ Which thou heard’st cry, which thou saw’st sink. ” The use of iambic pentameter, as well as the use of enjambment, creates an eerie atmosphere of mystery, which goes hand in hand with the aspect of magic. After this episode had finished, Prospero says to Miranda, “Will ever after droop. Here cease more questions: / Thou art inclined to sleep; ‘tis a good dullness, / And give it way: I know thou canst choose. At which point Miranda falls asleep. This was due to the powerful magic of Prospero, who cast a spell on Miranda to fall asleep. Moreover, when Ariel, Prospero’s spirit-servant, who had been issued the task of creating the Tempest by Prospero, was summoned by him, Ariel’s starting words were, “I come/ To answer thy best pleasure: be’t to fly, / to swim, to dive into the fire, to ride / On the curled clouds, to thy strong bidding task/ Ariel and all his quality. This monologue gives Ariel a magical aura, and is also spoken in a haughty tone, alluding to the powerful magical side to the spirit. Ariel boasted that, “Jove’s lightning, the precursors/ O’th’ dreadful thunder-claps, more momentary / And sight-outrunning were not; the fire and cracks/ Of sulphurous roaring the most mighty Neptune / Seem to besiege, and make his bold waves tremble, / Yea, his dread trident shake. ” This prose was said in an enthusiastic tone, with an iambic pentameter, but cleverly written by Shakespeare in Blank Verse.
Caesura, along with enjambment is also used to maintain a magical grip among the audience. In addition, when Prospero asked Ariel if the passengers aboard the ship were safe, Ariel replied, “Not a hair perished. ” This meant that what the passengers aboard the ship were experiencing was all an illusion, created by Ariel’s magic, rather than a real shipwreck. Additionally, when moving from Ariel’s active speech mentioned before to this part, the use of juxtaposition and contrast makes the magic seem more realistic than it is thought, illuding the audience.
As well as that, Ariel’s music, when heard by Ferdinand in Act 1 Scene 2, “ Come unto these yellow sands, / And then take hands; / Curtsied when you have and kissed/ (The wild waves whist)/Foot it featly here and there, / And, sweet sprites, bear / The burthern” lures Ferdinand towards Prospero and Miranda. Ariel, due to his immense magical power, was invisible to Ferdinand, which shows the audience the power of magic throughout the whole play, as Ariel is a spirit, and is part of the island. Therefore, if Ariel is that magical, then the island must be teeming with magic.
The primary change that I found between the original reading of the play and that of Julie Taymor’s production is the introduction of a female protagonist, namely “Prospera. ” This, along with the introduction of special effects, will give a new interpretation of magic in the Taymor Production. In the film, Prospera is first shown on a cliff, wearing a cloak and bearing a staff, conjuring the Tempest. She is presented as a goddess, as she uses her magical powers to invoke disaster upon the ship containing her enemies.
This shows her immense magical prowess, and therefore creates a distinct variation between the play and the Taymor Production, as there is an unembellished contrast. Visual effects can also be taken into consideration as the Taymor Production uses to represent violent natural incidents, such as when Ariel describes how he “annihilated” the ship using fire, lightning and thunder. The CGI made the destruction more realistic and the accompaniment of the drums make the whole scene more authentic in general. Another difference is the sex of the protagonist, as it changes the relationship between Ariel and Prospera.
In the play, Prospero controls Ariel in a more volatile way, threatening Ariel constantly. In the Taymor Production, however, Ariel obeys Prospera more willingly, and even though he wishes to be free, he is respectful and more obedient to Prospera than to Prospero in the play. When Prospera was scolding Ariel about his desire to be free, CGI creates the environment that Ariel was in before Prospera came to the island, which was that he was stuck in a tree (this, of course as shown in the Taymor Production, was an illusion).
Now I am going to examine the aspect of deception in the Tempest, in Act 2 Scene 1. Deception is an illusion, as it is intended to mislead someone. In this scene, Antonio (Brother of Prospero) and Sebastien (Brother of Alonso), conspire to kill the king. Alonso falls asleep due to Ariel’s magic, as well as Gonzalo, and so Sebastien and Antonio are given the task of protecting the king and Gonzalo from any harm. In the original reading of the play, I can see that Antonio and Sebastien are the Machiavels of the play, and are morally deceitful.
They, while King Alonso was resting, were conspiring to kill the king. Antonio hinted this when he said, “And yet, methinks, I see it in thy face, / What thou shouldst be: th’occasion speaks thee, and / My strong imagination sees a crown / dropping upon thy head. ” This implies that just as Antonio deceived his brother Prospero by usurping him to become the Duke of Milan (as Sebastien mentions, “You did supplant your brother Prospero”), Sebastien should kill his brother Alonso in order to become King of Naples.
The whole dialogue between Sebastien and Alonso, until the point where they drew their swords (unsuccessfully killing the king, as Ariel awoke them first with the song, “While you here do snoring lie, / Open-eyed conspiracy/ His time doth take. / If of life you keep a care, / Shake of slumber and beware. / Awake! Awake! ), the dialogue was written in blank verse, and the iambic pentameter was often shared between two people, for example, when Sebastien says, “ What? Art thou waking? ” and Antonio replies, “Do you not hear me speak? ” This adds up to 11 syllables, which is considered a variation of the iambic pentameter.
Even after Alonso and Gonzalo awoke, the pair still deceived them, by Sebastien saying that, “Even now, we heard a hollow burst of bellowing / Like bulls, or rather lions: did’t not wake you? / It struck mine ear most terribly. ” This was a deception because they were trying to hide the fact that they were about to kill the King and Gonzalo! Antonio, following on from this, to deceive them even further, retorted that, “O, ‘twas a din to fright a monster’s ear – / To make an earthquake! Sure, it was the roar / Of a whole herd of lions. ” The diction used during this dialogue is formal and persuasive.
The blank verse arrangement emphasises this, as it is somewhat poetic like persuasion is. In the same scene, Ariel utters that, “My master, through his art, forsees / the danger / that you, his friend, are in, and sends me forth / (For else his project dies) to keep them living. ” This meant that Prospero had been deceiving Antonio, Sebastien, Gonzalo, and Alonso from the very beginning, because Prospero had forseen this beforehand. This also meant that Prospero is deceiving Ferdinand because he knew that Alonso (Ferdinand’s Father) would have been alive. In the Taymor adaptation of the play, the scene subtext is different.
In the play, Antonio and Sebastien are morally deceitful, however, in the Taymor production, which is a feminist production, the characteristics that they possess are shown to be not morally, but instead the deceit occurs because they are male. Antonio usurping Prospera is shown as a symbol of male dominance. For example, Ferdinand in the Taymor Production is more sensitive, showing a feminine side, and is accepted by Prospera. Antonio and Sebastien are shown as proud males, and so are looked down upon by Prospera. The actors of Sebastien and Antonio (namely Alan Cumming and Chris Cooper) show that to the audience respectively.
The final aspect I will be examining is Theatre. To begin with, the whole theatrical aspect of the play is illusory, because to watch a play, you must believe something that is not true. In the case of the Tempest, the characters are not on an island, but on a stage set, and they themselves are not aristocrats, however they are actors. The disappearing feast in Act 3 is certainly relevant to this aspect. In Act 3, Antonio, Gonzalo, Alonso and Sebastien are walking across the island when several strange shapes bring a banquet to them and invites the king to eat.
They all discuss the incident, for example when Sebastien says, “No matter, since / They have left their viands behind; for we / have stomachs. / Will’t please you taste of what is here? ” Just as they were about to start eating, Ariel, in the form of a harpy, appears and makes the banquet vanish. Then Ariel calls Antonio, Sebastien, and Alonso “three men of sin, whom destiny – that hath to instrument this lower world /And what is in’t – the never surfeited sea / Hath caused to belch up you,” and then mentions that, “I have made you mad” which means that they could see things that Gonzalo could not, which is illusory.
This would be shown on stage with the use of trapdoors, soundboards, and phosphorus lighting effects, giving the indoor stage an eerie effect. This play was originally created for the indoor stage, and so lighting effects via. Candles could also be used. For example, to produce lightning effects, candles would be repeatedly blocked and unblocked. This gives an illusory effect to the play itself, making it more plausible.
The Taymore version of this incident is vastly different in respect to Theatre; this was cast in a studio, and in real life islands. The CGI made Ariel look more harpy-like, and it even shows him (Ben Wishaw) flying. When Ariel mentions making them mad, a burst of crows appear, this is created by SFX, and makes the madness of the characters more credible. The banquet is seen to be lit by a ‘heavenly spotlight’ in the Taymor Production, whereas in the play, a group of strange shapes brought the banquet onto the stage.
This meant that in the Taymor Production, due to more modern techniques, the banquet would not have to be taken off the ‘stage’ but the camera would be cut at this point. In conclusion, both understandings of the Tempest display the theme of illusion in different ways. Although it is one of the main themes orbiting Shakespeare’s play itself, the theme is presented in a more sophisticated and is more alluring in the Taymor Production of the play, by the use of special effects and CGI, which highlights the films ability and proficiency to produce believable and credible illusions.