A Comparison Of Ignorance In The Tempest And Sonnet 93

981 words - 4 pages

Ignorance in The Tempest and Sonnet 93

 
     Ignorance has been said to be bliss.  To equate appearance with reality is a facet of ignorance, and leads to a part of the bliss.  Many of Shakespeare's characters find the bliss of ignorance and revel in it, and some end up coming to terms with their gullibility.  Some few are unwilling to abandon their ignorance even when they can see real truth.  All are experiencing different stages of the human cycle.  Coming into the world, we are equipped with nothing more than recognition of appearance.  We must learn to the distinguish what is real from what is seen.  Those who have the opportunity to learn this difference will often deny the truth to live in bliss a moment longer, those who are no longer ignorant can occasionally re-enter the cycle in a moment of absolute trust and wonder, and finally there are those who have spilled off one end of the cycle or the other, and are trapped in a particular stage for their life.  In all cases, real truth is irrelevant to the human goal of happiness.

 

            The speaker of sonnet 93 is fighting his own intelligence to stay ignorant.  In order to avoid living a cycle of clear reason, he uses the fogging image of the ideal.  He tells himself he cannot see any trace of falseness in his lover because she is so beautiful: 'Whatever thy thoughts or thy heart's workings be,/ Thy looks should nothing but sweetness tell'.  Essentially he has doubled back on his own mind: convinced himself he has not seen the change he has seen.  He is willing to sacrifice the truth he sees to prolong his happiness. 

 

            Miranda in The Tempest is shown slowly bridging the gap between her untouched childlike ignorance and the clarity she will not be able to deny once a part of the court.  Nearer the beginning of the book, Miranda seems to almost proudly proclaim her innocence: ( first and last quote from exam sheet for Tempest, minus Prospero's line ).  Finally in the ending of the book, we see Miranda is coming around slowly:

 

'Miranda: Sweet lord, you play me false.

Ferdinand: No, my dearest love, I would not for the world.

Miranda: Yes, for a score of kingdoms you should wrangle,

And I would call it fair play.'

 

Miranda can abandon her total ignorance because doing so does not destroy her happiness.  In slowly discovering the deception that characterizes the world around her, Miranda seems to proudly proclaim her love as her new source of happiness and safety from the tragic portion of truth.  Because Miranda's happiness is safe in her love, she can move a little closer to the truth.

 

            Ferdinand is attempting to rediscover his ignorance through wonder and trust.  He has been in court up until the boarding of the ship that crashed to start the play and could not have been ignorant in such surrounds.  As his happiness...

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