The coming article is talking about how was the impression of Magic was strong on Shakespeare's time .The Tempest is one the latest comedies by Shakespeare which has written in 1610-1611(or earlier).
The write,Milad Shahraki is secondary school noble student who has put his effort on this research .
I hope you enjoy the work.
How Do The Characters Of Stephano, Caliban And Trinculo In Act 3 Scene 2 and Act 4 Scene 1 React To The Magic On The Island?
The people in the Elizabethan era would have been deeply religious and you could say for the majority, their life revolved around religion. So the audience Shakespeare would have got would consist mainly of religious people and Shakespeare at the time would have used this to his advantage because people in that era would have also been very aware for acts of the devil which they would interpret as ‘Magic’ which is the main theme in this particular play “The Tempest”. The areas that we see magic at its peak of deviousness, which you could argue the word Devious derived from “Devil”, are in Acts 3 Scene 2 and Act 4 Scene1 Through the characters of Prospero and Ariel using their magic to torment the trio, Stephano, Trinculo and Caliban. The trio’s reactions differ to the various aspects they encounter .It is then when the reactions cause the slapstick humour which makes the Elizabethan audience laugh but unearths the true potential and qualities of each character.
In Act 3 scene 2 Shakespeare tries to show the manipulative and sly use of magic to Elizabethan England through the tormenting spirit, Ariel, Prospero’s spirit. The early affairs of Caliban Stephano and Trinculo in Act 3 scene 2 are the funniest out of the entire play because it contains a lot of slapstick humour which will keep the audience happy especially when all the characters on stage are under the influence of alcohol .It makes it much more amusing and interesting seeing the use of stagecraft used once the actors are drunk and it also helps show a different side to most of the characters on stage. In this scene we see Caliban informing Stephano about him being a subject of a “tyrant-a sorcerer” that cheated him of his island. So we see Shakespeare portraying the emotions of Caliban towards his tyrant (Prospero), Ariel who is invisible eavesdropping, shouts out in the voice of Trinculo,also present ,”thou liest”.This would amuse the audience because there is a use of dramatic irony ,they will have the knowledge of knowing that this was said by Ariel and not Trinculo, keeping in mind the use of stage craft would be very important seeing Ariel is a spirit and that he is invisible to the naked eye of Stephano, Caliban and Trinculo it gives him the freedom to do whatever he more or less wants and to express his true nature more.
The reactions of Stephano and Caliban are very interesting; because Caliban is receiving more attention from the so called “Moongod” and he realizes his superiority over Trinculo he turns offensive by making remarks such as “jesting monkey” and says “my valiant master would destroy thee” in a very devious tone, internally Stephano not wanting to risk the obedience of “his servant monster”, is quick to react to Caliban’s pleads and warns Trinculo to be quiet or he will “supplant some of his teeth”. This scene being quite humorous it would also in a sense worry the Elizabethan audience showing the power of magic used by Ariel and seeing how manipulative it can be. You can see the power of this phrase and the influence “thou liest” is having on the characters, you could almost say that this whole scene revolves around it and creates lots of drama for the Elizabethan audience to take in also the phrase really changes the climax of tension as it is repeated and from it a different kind of reaction is created .Shakespeare repeats the phrase a third time, Caliban with not one second of delay, protests and Stephano hits Trinculo across the face. Trinculo descends into the trees bewildered of what they are blaming him for; this would create a sense of pathos towards Trinculo. These series of events reveal to the Elizabethan audience that the magic used by Ariel has helped him prevail and tower over the matter of reason and put him in ‘in the driving seat’ which would give the audience an issue about magic to ponder over but there is a sense of ambiguity in the situation because what we see Ariel doing in this scene could be interpreted in total different ways .The obvious which cropped up in my head was that Shakespeare made that scene just to show a bit of humour rather than malicious belittling way but the deeper you think about it the more understanding of the situation.
Ariel who is still invisible, nearing the end of Act 3 scene 2, “plays the Tabor and pipe” which scares Stephano and Trinculo and makes them question “what is this same” and beg to see what is going on. Shakespeare unearths the true characteristics of Stephano and his real status of nothing but a mere butler amongst the many when he starts to pace around looking for the source of the music while pleading “mercy upon us”. Also declaring “if thou beest a man, show thyself in thy likeness!” You can see the use of hyperbole which crops up in this little speech which Shakespeare has used to really amplify his fear. The phrase “mercy upon us” shows the fear of religion in Elizabethan England and by saying mercy upon us suggests that he has done something bad which he knows was the wrong thing to do, in this case giving himself nobility and calling himself a ‘Moongod’. The reaction of Trinculo is in the same fields, he also pleads “lord forgives my sins!”this also indicates how scared he was. Shakespeare may have also used slapstick humour because of the stagecraft that would be used, at that moment you would have Stephano and Trinculo on their knees begging and have Ariel mocking them. “forgive me my sins” just unearths his true characteristics as just a kings jester and no more although “forgive me my sins” suggests that Trinculo is quite scared of something in this case because it was Elizabethan England anything that couldn’t be explained would go down in the category of acts of the devil and that’s what Trinculo was most likely to fear .However the magic used for the music is harmless and doesn’t do any harm to Stephano and Trinculo, this could suggest that Shakespeare is trying to show the Elizabethan audience that there is nothing to be scared of and people need to stop being stereotypical, although if it was a modern audience there would be a different reaction because views have changed and evolved on magic .
The music sprung not just the fear and a sudden urge of curiosity shown in Stephano and Trinculo but also be wilderness and doubt in Caliban. Caliban ,still drunken, questions Stephano “Art thou afeared”, although this is one question I think there is another one being thought in Caliban’s mind ‘is he really a Moongod or is he just a fake’ and I think Stephano picks that up as well, responding in “No, monster, not I”. The comma between ‘no’ and ‘monster’ suggests a little pause which could be uncertainty in Stepaho’s voice because not forgetting he after all’s just a butler. Caliban still a bit mystified by their reactions comes out with a reassuring speech “Be not afeared .This isle is full of noises, Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not” throughout the speech Caliban speaks in structural poetic verse which shows how he feels about the island and his homeland and his appreciation for it. When making this speech Shakespeare wanted to create pathos for caliban and to show that he isn’t just some “servant monster” but someone who has feelings an
d this is the part in the play when people could connect with caliban. However this is also the start of Caliban’s transformation from slave into leader because of his knowledge and the emotions that he has portrayed and showed towards the island .If you look closely at the whole speech and the first line I have shown you can see the alliteration in it with letter ‘S’ which shows sibilance used by Caliban in a very sweet and nice way to reassure Stephano however you could argue that subconsciously he was being manipulative and devious because after all he is a monster with natural instincts so really they juxtapose each other. The words of Caliban are very interesting because they could be interpreted in two ways and that’s why it’s very ambiguous and again leaves the Elizabethan audience the freedom of choice
Act 3 scene 2 was structured by Shakespeare not just for humorous reasons but was made to show the progression of Caliban the ‘servant monster’ into Caliban the leader just because he has acted differently to magic. The influence of magic in this scene has been very strong and has almost steered the way the story goes in possibly a total different direction this would give the Elizabethan audience a point to think about and worry them because it shows how easily magic can command and conquer.
This point is shown by Stephano who grants permission to Caliban to “lead” him and Trinculo into act 4 scenes 1 was done on purpose by Shakespeare to give a smoother transition for the characters to go into Act 4 Scene 1.Shakespeare has done this to show the knowledge of Caliban and his clever mind when he points out to Stephano and Trinculo that they shouldn’t wear and not to be fooled b the clothes that were set out by Ariel (because he led them into a muddy ditch)this internally led the characters to be frozen and left out until everything was sorted out between Prospero and Antonio.
In Act 4 Scene 1 the use of magic is evident with the continuation of the plot to kill Prospero that was conjured up by Caliban. The
In Act 4 Scene 1 we see Ariel’s return to Prospero and see him describe the reactions he received from the Stephano, Caliban and Trinculo to his tabor and pipe.
During his description of the trio he describes them like wild dogs that “prick their ears” and “lift up their noses” which amplifies the state that they were in; drunk and clueless but not only the state they were in but the imagery that you get from those words are very much animal like, for instance “prick” suggest curiosity which indicates dog like behavior, also “noses” not only gives us imagery but shows us that they are charmed by the sweet music and their hunger for more and the will that’s in it. Of Course the stage craft would have been very a key part in the form of Ariel and the way he would be telling this to Prospero would be very amusing and funny for the Elizabethan audience. Shakespeare may have also used slapstick humour to keep his audience entertained and not bored.
Ariel continues with his feedback by telling Prospero about how he “charmed” them and led them into “toothed briers” and “sharp furze’s” and how he led them into a muddy “mantled pool” which gives them that yearn for new clothes later on in this scene .The word “charmed” used by Shakespeare would have emphasized the presentation of magic in the Elizabethan society,showing the malicious side, manipulative and sly side of magic which again would give the Shakespearean audience an issue to ponder over about .
The magic in act 4 scene 1 varies from cunning and sly to harm .The sly and cunning shown by Ariel and the harm portrayed by Prospero when he finds out about the plot that was conjured up by caliban to kill him . Before Prospero decides to take action, he tells us what he really thinks with a soliloquy after Ariel leaves the stage and tells us about Caliban being ‘a born devil’ “whose nature nurture can never stick” which brings on the ongoing debate of nature vs. nurture, was caliban born evil and can’t change or was there a flaw in Prospero’s nurture over the period that he brought him up. On the other hand it could be interpreted as maybe self criticism from Prospero In other words “I should have known better, than to take in a beast”. So it’s very ambiguous on how the Elizabethan audience would have interpreted it as. Internally I think it’s the nature vs. nurture that drives Prospero and motivates him to use “rough magic” to take revenge by setting hunting dogs on the trio.
After Prospero has finished with his soliloquy the trio slowly approach Prospero’s cave wet and smelly .With Stephano infused with anger because of their “infinite loss” ;the perished alcohol they start to sober up with a hangover which answers why he tries to back down from the onslaught of Prospero. Anyhow Ariel’s sets out new clean clothes as bait for the trio near Prospero’s cave to hold them up and put them under a trance. This gesture by Shakespeare was picked up very quickly by Caliban which again reveals the leadership qualities of Caliban to the Elizabethan audience and shows us who is in control and even more when he calls them “fools” as they approach the tempting bait and handle the clothes with enthusiasm and greed ,bearing in mind Prospero is watching aside. Once again Caliban’s reaction puts him in lead by pointing out the trickery of Ariel while Stephano and trinculo are dancing for joy as this is the first and possibly the last time they will ever get such luxury. However a very key part in this scene would be the stage craft in the form of Caliban being frustrated and angry while Stephano and Trinculo are trying on clothes and doing mini catwalks oozing with vanity and unleashed envy for these unseen clothes. This would have been original ‘slapstick’ which of course would have been very humoristic for the Elizabethan audience. Judging on the past scenes, Ariel would have possibly been walking and running around them although nowadays he could have been suspended from the roof of the theater flying around the trio mocking their stupidity and innocence, while Prospero would be on the wings pacing with anger and frustration. Although the scene being very funny the presence of Prospero, especially, would have caused tension and would have really upped the climax in the theater, considering it’s only a play because of the duration the audience by now would have been deeply engaged in the story line.
However, the imagery is a key but it’s the only thing we receive form this scene It shows us what the ‘higher status’ views on the lower status folk are like whom is reflected by ,in this case Prospero but also the Elizabethan society and how things were then. You could almost say that this whole seen was constructed around the so called ‘class system’.
In this scene where we see Prospero using “rough magic”, we experience the violent side of magic. Once Prospero had enough overseeing the trio messing about he sets spirits which to the naked eye of the trio appear as hunting dogs’ to chase them.
The Shakespearian audience would have been very entertained by the prospect having men running around, barking and acting like dogs very amusing and funny. Something in this scene which is quite unique is for once in the play we see Caliban having similar reactions to Stephano and Trinculo, when they get chased by the ‘hunting dogs’, this would have shown the Caliban’s intelligence; as he earlier pointed out that this was a trap .Shakespeare would have wanted to create pathos and this pathos for the trio and this would have been amplified when standing by, Prospero, chanting “grind” and “fury” as the trio get chased. The harsh ‘g’ resembles crushing and pressure which shows the infusion of power and revenge in Prospero’s blood that has taken over him like a drug which again Shakespeare tries to reflect the presentation of magic in the Elizabethan era and show how dangerous it can be.
The actions that Prospero decided to take against the trio could be argued as irrational and harsh, whereas at the beginning of the play Prospero stated to Miranda that he promised that no one would get hurt but ironically he sets hunting dogs on them. This to me and I’m sure to most of the Elizabethan audience would be the biggest pointer of them all set throughout the play that shows us how manipulative and overpowering magic can be so it’s very important nearing the end of the play Prospero realises he has used “rough magic” and decides to brake his staff and drown his books which would have made the Elizabethan audience happy to see the downfall of magic.
The Tempest was the last in Shakespeare’s plays before he decided to retire from writing and leave London to head back home to Stratford to live out the rest of his life. So you could argue that the main character, Prospero, was in fact ‘Shakespeare the prosperous’ who’ magic charmed and amused his audience in his play. Act 3 scene 2 and Act 4 scene 1 were arguably the most interesting scenes in the whole play which not only showed the funny side of magic but the infectious side as well and you can see that in this by the reactions we receive form the trio which spark comedy and also fear. But the way The Tempest was structured you can tell the sudden downfall of magic at the end that Shakespeare tries to show that is not real and that in reality that there is nothing to be feared of.