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The Tempest By William Shakespeare Essay

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The Tempest is equipped with an elaborate sound track, in which episodes of violent, discordant, and chaotic noise are set against the harmonious songs and instrumental music performed by Ariel and his consort of spirits. It is not, of course, that this play entirely eschews spectacle, but The Tempest begins with a scene of storm and shipwreck that might appear calculated to vie with the scenic extravagance of masque. The storm called for in the opening stage direction one for which there are very few precedents in the canon can easily seem to be ushering in a display of spectacular theatricality; however, in a printed text that is unusually punctilious in its attentiveness to stage effects, what is particularly striking about the wording is its emphasis upon the aural a tempestuous noise of thunder and lightning heard. In stark contrast of visual magnificence that preface for example this direction imagines a storm primarily in acoustic terms so that even lightning is something to be heard rather than seen. It is true that we have no means of knowing for certain to what extent the stage directions in the Folio were scripted by the dramatist himself; it seems likely that in their present form they were supplied. I’ll break my staff, Bury it certain fathoms in the earth, And deeper than did ever plummet sound I’ll drown my book. (Ll. 54–57) The sheer familiarity of these lines, combined with their apparent simplicity, easily disguises the complex allusiveness of their verbal
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