A Tempest Essay

1755 words - 7 pages

There's a storm brewing, gathering force. Its dark clouds swirl aggressively, closing in on the sun, cornering it. Its fury is tangible, waiting to burst forth and unleash itself upon the land, to drench everything with its frigid precipitation. Mirth falls into shadow. An awesome and fearful spectacle, to be sure, but also one compulsory to life; it maintains that crucial balance between order and chaos, quenching the thirst of the world, and keeping things from getting too dry.Just below the surface of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing", one of his more prominent comedies, there is a deep well of meaning most markedly un-comedic in nature. In a first reading, small rivulets seep through the felicitous framework, alerting the reader to that which is dammed up behind; towards the end of the play, it feels like there is but a layer of comedy holding us above unknown depths. Perhaps it would be easier to simply walk ahead and ignore that which lies beneath, but do so might end in disaster, for it would entail missing a substantial and, I feel, part of this piece which is critical for a number of reasons.Most will probably have, at this juncture, a rather vague sense of the concept of which I speak. Perhaps some demonstration would reinforce it. Pick, at random, any passage from Act 4 onwards. It will probably look something like this excerpt, extracted from the very beginning of Act 5.Leonato: …But there is no such man. For, brother, men Can counsel and speak comfort to that grief Which they themselves not feel; but, tasting it, Their counsel turns to passion, which before Would give preceptial medicine to rage, Fetter strong madness in a silken thread, Charm ache with air and agony with words.No, no! 'Tis all men's office to speak patience To those that wring under the load of sorrow, But no man's virtue nor sufficiency To be so moral when he shall endure The like himself. Therefore give me no counsel; My griefs cry louder than advertisement.This speech must be read with a disclaimer; Leonato does not actually believe that his daughter is dead, and so presumably here he is only acting as though he is upset, which at least has the potential to be slightly amusing. However, it doesn't come off as funny at all when it's read, and the fact that it is placed at the beginning of Act 5 is significant for me in several ways. First, this ensures that the passage is rather isolated contextually, meaning that the full force of its seriousness is appreciated. Also, the fact that it opens the ending act of the play places more weight upon Leonato's words, making their importance all the more puzzling.Or, take this quote, from Act 4… Claudio: There, Leonato, take her back again.Give not this rotten orange to your friend.She's but the sign and semblance of her honor.Behold how like a maid she blushes here! O, what authority and show of truth Can cunning sin cover itself withal! Comes not that blood, as modest evidence, To witness simple virtue?...

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