Music In The Tempest Essay

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In this essay, I will demonstrate that there is a strong, undeniable connection between music, magic and imagination in William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. Also, I will indicate their role in the mentioned literary text and in what way do they affect the main characters, the relationship between them. Imagination, understood as the ability to create new sensations and images in one’s mind, was considered by Pierre Charron to be the most active and stirring faculty of the soul — [imagination is] ‘a thing very strong and powerfull’ that ‘makes all the stirre, all the clatter’, a thing from which ‘the perturbation of the world proceeds’ . Since imagination is such a complex, abstract concept, it can easily constitute, or can be seen as, the …show more content…
The entire island ‘resounds continually to music in the air, which is […] equivalent to music of the spheres’ . Everything there seems to be ‘wrapped in a serene air of celestial harmony’ . This kind of celestial harmony can only nourish one’s imagination. In addition to that, it gives a sense of divine order. The songs that Ariel sings are divine and always carry a message (for a character in the play; for the reader/theatre audience). Usually, they work as spells; they are an extension of Prospero’s powerful ‘art’. Music in The Tempest is solemn, strange, and sweet. Gonzalo gives the best description: ‘Marvellous sweet music!’ Ariel’s songs are so powerful (effective spells; magic and music are intertwined) that music almost transcends the auditory sense — ‘[…] lifted up their noses/ As they smelt music: so I charm’d their ears’ . Ariel’s imagination affects their bodies and, more importantly, their rational mind. Their senses are deceived. This is the ‘victory’ of imagination over reason. The Tempest was highly important for early nineteenth century debates about the creative imagination. Writers such as Shelly, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Hazlitt, Blake, Keats, and Byron often alluded to the play in their correspondence and poems

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