The Tempest: Review


Why is it that people fawn Shakespeare and have unreasonably high regard for his works, including The Tempest, and label them as "immortal classics"? Indeed Shakespeare's works had great significance in the evolution of English literature, but these works, including The Tempest are mostly devoid of significance and literary value in the present day. One can expect to gain little educational benefit of the english language or hightened apreciation for fine literature from the reading of Shakespeare's titles for reasons enumerate. First of all, the colorful and sophisticated metephoric vernacular style of the language utilized is archaic; even the speech of intellectually refined individuals and other respected literary works do not imploy of this rich style of speech. The poemic composition of The Tempest does not increase one's ability to apreciate distinguished literature because the refined and respected works of most other classical writers are in novel form and thus differ highly from Shakesperian works in the literary devices and mannerisms from which they are comprised.

The Tempest was written in early seventeeth century England. At this period of history and country the English language was quite different from what it is today in many ways. First, standard, formal vocabulary was different at this time. An great expample is found in the line "...you bawling, blasphemous, incharitable dog!" (act 1 sc. 1, p. 9). In this line, the word incharitable is the modern equivalent of the word uncharitable. The standard dictionary word has changed prefixes somewhere througout the centuries. Another thing that would have made a further gap between the vernacular in the play and modern English is Shakespeare's deployment of common language, or slang (although I have no proof because I don't speak sixteenth century slang). "A pox o' your throught..." (act 1 sc.1, p. 9) and "...give o'er..." (act 1 sc. 1, p. 9). These phrases seem to be slang therms because they are so deviant from there modern english equvalents, "curses on" and "give up", respectiveley. What value does learning the archaic vernacular give to the reader. Surely it does not increase thier word power or sophisticate thier vocabulary, for nowhere, not even in among people of high intellecutal refinement such as venerable college professers, is this dead language used.

Another distinctive trait of the vernacular used in The Tempest is the heavy use of metaphor. This use of metaphor is so heavy and outlandish that it becomes extrodinarily difficult to interpret and causes the words to fall into chaotic ambiguity. In fact, it is not unreasonable to define the language of the text as sophistry. A great example of heavy metaphor in The Tempest is the line "O heaven , O earth, bear witness to this sound, / and crown what I profess with kind event / If I speak true; if hollowly, invert / What best is boded me to mischief. I, / Beyond all limit of what else I' th' world, / Do love, prize honor you" (Act 3 sc. 1, p. 95). In modern terms, this means: "Lord, bear witness to what I say, and bless my claim (to this woman). Let me be damned if I lie when I say that I love honor, prize and honor you above anything else in the world." The learning of this type of heavy usage of metaphor would be justified if it were imployed in many other respected classic works or in modern eloquent speech, but it is not.

Metaphoric speech outside of literature and informal speech is reguarded as crude and unsophisticated in modern speech. This is so because people have come to reguard refined speech as being characteristic with the use of a large vocabulary consisting of consise and sophisticated words.

Even if the argument is made that one cannot gain much benefit in refining their speech by reading The Tempest, Shakespeare aficianados claim that there is value in the mechanics and devices common in literature which can be learned from his works. This is exaggerated, however. The most valuble literary device that can be learned from The Tempest is the metaphor. However, as I said before, Shakespeare over uses this so much that his words fall into sophistry. A good example is the line "Or that there were such men / Whose head stood in their breasts?" (act 3 sc. 3, p.113). I can make no sense out of