A Theme Of The Transformative Impact Of Discoveries On Individuals In The Tempest By William Shakespeare And The Enormous Radio By John Cheever
The confronting (far-reaching) nature of discoveries is due to its innate ability to challenge an individual’s preconceived ideologies and expectations, ultimately instigating a transformative personal and intellectual introspection.
William Shakespeare’s 5 act tragicomedy The Tempest (1611), portrays an individual’s re-evaluation of their relations with others when confronted with ethical dilemmas which prove emotionally and intellectually challenging. It is this provocative and far-reaching discovery that has the ability to subvert an individual’s belief systems of themselves and the wider world. Similarly, John Cheever’s 1953 short story “The Enormous Radio” explores how sudden and confronting discoveries can provoke an individual’s emotional and intellectual transformation but subsequently shows the negative impacts which can hinder relationships. Consequently, both texts concurrently have the ability to address the transformative impact of discoveries on individuals. Discoveries can simulate an individual’s re-evaluation of previously held values to ultimately evoke their transformative perspectives of themselves and their relations with others.
In The Tempest, Miranda undergoes an emotional discovery when she learns “how beauteous mankind is! O brave new world that has such people in’t. ” The use of emotive language portrays Miranda’s bewilderment and excitement, whereby the exclamatory language forebodes her unexpected discovery of new people. Moreover, her naivety is demonstrated through the positive imagery of Ferdinand as “a thing divine, for nothing she ever saw so noble”, highlighting her fresh and intensely meaningful discovery of the world at large. Prospero is suspicious about the sincerity of Miranda and Ferdinand’s love and metaphorically alludes to Ferdinand as a “poor worm, thou art infected; this visitation shows it”. His sudden realisation that their love is genuine evokes his emotional discovery as he is “so glad of this as they I cannot be, who are surpris’d with all; but my rejoicing at nothing can be more…”, as evinced through the emotive language. Prospero summons magical spirits in the Betrothal masque to celebrate their love and its ability to surpass evil and despair. Thus, Miranda’s awakening sexuality with the sudden discovery of men beyond her father is juxtaposed with Prospero’s emotional and personal transformation of the power of love to unite and reconcile as he understands the importance of relationships with others. Sudden and unexpected discoveries may serve as a necessity for an individual’s transformative personal and intellectual perspective of themselves and the wider world.
In the Tempest, Prospero’s inability to liberate himself from his own cupidity for the procurement of power is suddenly challenged by Ariel, ultimately instigating an intellectual discovery of the importance of acceptance and forgiveness. This is evinced in the opening act, in which the use of pathetic fallacy of the eponymous tempest, a storm conjured by Prospero, is symbolically indicative of his physical manifestation of anger over those who usurped his throne, particularly his “perfidious brother” Antonio. Prospero uses magic as a theatrical ploy to “hath… enemies brought to this shore, ” ultimately demonstrating his imperative desire to seek vengeance on those who usurped him of his dukedom. Moreover, Prospero’s conflicting recollections of his exile “in the dark backward and abysm of time” emphasises the “twelve years since… he was the Duke of Milan”; the rightful heir to the throne. However, Ariel acted as an external catalyst for Prospero’s sudden and cathartic introspection of the value of acceptance and forgiveness as didactically expressed by Ariel through the metaphor; “my affections would become tender…were I human. ” This paradoxically prompts Prospero to “forgive (Antonio) thy rankest fault, ” reassessing his yearning to seek revenge. In a soliloquy, he states that “the rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance, ” whereby the antithesis highlights his moment of anagnorisis that this metaphorical “rough magic… of ignorant fumes that mantle our clearer reason… I abjure. ” Thus, Prospero’s spiritual revelation positions the reader to appreciate mercy, acknowledging that rediscoveries can stimulate favourable insights.
Similarly, Cheever’s short story explores a contemporary couple; Jim and Irene Westcott who are suddenly and unexpectedly confronted with moral dilemmas that prove intellectually and emotionally challenging which consequently hinders their relations with others. The Westcott’s symbolically represent the radio as they appear as the “perfect” couple living the American-dream, but “beneath the smooth exterior of their lives lurk serious problems. ” Cheever’s use of personification in the opening of the narrative showcases the predecessor as an “old…sensitive and unpredictable radio”. Its breakdown saw the introduction of the new anthropomorphised radio, that although is quite superior in tone to its predecessor, the kinaesthetic “violent forces that were snared in the ugly gumwood cabinet made Irene uneasy… as it was like an aggressive intruder. ” The radio metaphorically ‘invades’ and disrupts Irene’s privacy which ironically parallels her perverse fascination of her neighbour’s financial, social and sexual anxieties, when the radio suddenly begins receiving and emanating the mounting cacophony of the neighbour’s voices. However, Irene becomes apprehensive as she rhetorically questions Jim- “life is too terrible, too sordid, too awful. But we’ve never been like that, have we, darling?” and imperatively proclaims to “turn that thing off. . . as they may hear us”, highlighting her sudden and confrontational introspection that the neighbours may hear the Westcott’s arguing. Both texts explore an individual’s sudden and unexpected discovery when confronted by their own cupidity.
However, Shakespeare portrays Prospero’s transformative perspective of the importance of relationships, whereas Cheever portrays Irene’s focus on other’s faults and problems in order to conceal hers, which thus hinders her ability to form a relationship with others. Henceforth, Irene’s characterisation serves as a warning to the audience of the potentially negative consequences of discoveries on individuals which can deter relationships.
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