Conflict and Harmony in The Tempest Essay

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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.

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