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Symbolism

Theatrical Plays: Symbolism and Values Analysis Essay

March 17, 2021 by Essay Writer

The Tempest is a very theatrical play as it contains many elements of theatre. The elements such as action, diction, special effects, music, storms and dancing makes it an interesting play for dramatic performance. The play operates on illusion to bring out dramatic effect. Theatre is an illusion in itself and for this reason; Shakespeare creates an imaginary Island to heighten the illusion. The fact that Prospero’s magic is not effective just anywhere, but in a special place adds more illusion to the tragicomedy.

The element of language as a theatrical device is used to heighten the drama. To quote one of the many incidences where language enhances drama is Act 1; scene ii. In these scene characters creates jokes about language. Ferdinand having met a goddess-like creature is amazed the creature could speak his tongue “My language Heavens! (Vaughan & Vaughan 42)

Another element that makes The tempest an interesting piece for dramatic performance is the presence of a sorcerer, Ariel. Most people detest the idea of consulting a sorcerer and having one in the tempest creates a controversy. However, the presence of Ariel in the play is important since it enhances the powerful character of Prospero. The latter uses magic to control everyone and everything under his jurisdiction. Ariel has turned out to be his savior in the most desperate situation as evident from the beginning of the play where Ariel rescues him from an island (Vaughan & Vaughan 26).

The appearance of Ariel at every scene creates a dramatic irony as the other characters except Prospero are not aware of what is happening. The realization that it was Ariel who had created the tempest is very dramatic as all along even the audience has been in darkness. Ariel is important as he creates the motion of the play and further heightens the conflict between the characters. Conflict builds tension which is an important element in a theatrical presentation.

Like Ariel, Prospero’s books are also magical and give him immense power. The magical power of the books heightens the drama especially when Caliban sends Stephano and Trinculo to seize them. He instructs them “Remember / First to possess his books, for without them / He’s but a sot” (Vaughan & Vaughan 102). The act creates anticipation in the audience as they eagerly wait to see how Prospero will progress without his magic.

The main aim of drama is to invoke the audience to think along the lines of the issues raised in the play. Prospero’s attachment to his books is what alienates him from reality, and almost causes his downfall. He perceives his duty as the duke of Milan as interference to his reading habit, and he delegates the role to his brother. The habit is what made him to raise Miranda in isolation, hence the anticipation to see what would befall him even he is isolated from the two magic.

The ending of the play is extremely theatrical as it brings the audience back to reality from the illusionary world created in the play. Prospero realizes he has to surrender his magic power as he cannot continue living in the world of illusion. Though illusionary world can be delightful and educative, human beings must be transported back to reality. Miranda has to come face to face with reality by moving out of the island.

To recap it all, the tempest is successful in creating the element of suspension and disbelief that makes it an interesting play for dramatic performance. The magical creations and other special effects contribute positively to make the play more entertaining, and delightful. Shakespeare successfully uses magic as a control element necessary for characterization, and as a plot device to create intrigue among the audience.

In the play “A Doll House”, Nora is the main protagonist who plays the major role in developing the plot. As the play begins, we find Nora very happy behaving rather naive and acting like a child. She seems not to mind about her childlike behavior as she teases her husband Torvald in the scene (Ibsen 2394). Torvald pampers and treats her like a doll that seems not to worry about the state of world economy. On the other hand, we find Praskovya, the wife of Ivan Illych being portrayed as a minor character that the author uses to illustrate social life and nature of society (Tolstoy 92).

The two characters have contrasting issues as the plots unfold. For example, Nora has been used by the author as the main protagonist in the play (Ibsen 2400). As a major character, all the events revolve around her. In the contrary, Praskovyya has been used by the author as a minor character where his husband Ivan act as the main protagonist. Although they have been used to illustrate role of women in society, they play their roles differently therefore, creating a different impression to the reader.

Certainly, we get to see Nora as Intelligent and patronizing as opposed to Proskovya. Nora reveals how she secured a loan to safeguard her husband’s illness. Moreover, from her patronizing altitude she is able to tease her husband and convince him how she spent the money he gave her. Proskovya is less intelligent since she is happy for the death of her husband (Tolstoy 96). She is pleased to see him die unlike Nora who fled away to seek freedom.

Proskovya has been portrayed with a selfish altitude when she became impatient over her husband’s death. She pretends to be sympathetic yet she is after her husband’s wealth. Nora is kind enough to an extent of incurring risk in order to save her husband’s life. Moreover, Proskovya is materialistic since her values are on wealth and status at the expense of her husband.

Despite that the two characters contrasts each other, they have some common aspects. From their character, the author has used them to define the meaning of freedom. In this case, Nora thought that after repaying the loan debt, she will be free to engage in her domestic responsibilities. This is not the case with Krogstand who prefers to blackmail make her feel more oppressed to continue living in Torvalds home. We find her leaving her marriage to pursue her personality and achieve freedom. On the other hand, we witness Proskovya getting relieved upon her husband’s death (Tolstoy 85). She is now certain that all the wealth belongs to her since Ivan will not be available to dictate upon it.

Additionally, the authors have used unreliability of appearance as a major theme to develop the play. This has been achieved through the role of the characters. It is evident that in the play, Nora is portrayed as silly and childish yet, as the play unfolds we 9find her being intelligent, courageous and independent. This is intentionally done to create conflicting impressions. On the other hand we find Proskovya very concerned and worried about her husband’s critical condition. She gets impatient about his death and even discusses about his wealth before the burial ceremony is over.

The incumbents have evolved as the plots unfold. By the end of the two scenes the are observable changes emerging from the characters roles. Meanwhile, in the play we Find Nora very exited being patronized and pampered by her father and Torvald. This has denied her an opportunity to develop skills to look after her children and make decisions on her own. We find that, Torvald assets power over her as he thinks that she is silly.

However, from the scene we find that she is tactful enough to secure a loan to safeguard his husband’s health. She discloses how she labored through odd jobs to repay the loan. Her husband gets furious with her when he realizes that she had secured a loan. He goes to the extent of calling her stupid coz he believes that getting loans is not the best way to bring up a family. As the play unfolds, we get to see that Nora realized that her husband rarely appreciates her effort.

She also realized that, she has been playing a wrong role trying to please her father, husband and society as well. She is determined to walk out of her marriage to seek her own freedom that will help her to cope with the societal demands. We find that, Krogstad blackmailing her triggered reawakening in her mind to define her real personality. From the play Nora evolves rebelliously and flees herself from the family to seek freedom.

In the book “The Death of Ivan Illych”, the author portrayed how Praskovya the wife to Ivan Illych evolves. She evolves from being a merciful and caring wife to a deceitful and self-interested character. It is clear that, when she realized that her husband is critically ill she wore a sand face. However. she was becoming impatient about the death of her husband. Her self-centered interest was on wealth which Ivan will leave behind. We find that once he died she is in haste to as peter Ivanovich to help her about securing he9r husband’s pension. Once she realized that peter might not help her much, she proceeded with the funeral ceremony.

The two characters are symbolic to represent the role of women in the society both from the past and present times. Women in the society have an economic role to play even when men are not ready to stand with them.This is evident from the sacrifice made by Nora to borrow and repay a loan even without informing her husband. Though she is not economically stable, she is able to do odd jobs to pay the loan (Ibsen 2391). In line with this, Proskovya is able to think independently on how to maximize benefits from her husband’s wealth. She intelligently discusses the issue with peter. Thou9gh she did not get the information she wanted she is willing too make a follow up after the burial Ceremony.

Moreover, women have a social role to play in family responsibilities. These include looking after children and reinforcing their husbands in decision making. We find that Nora is teasing her husband as they discuss how to reduce spending to match with the current world economy (Ibsen 2394). Torvald enquires from Nora on what she did with the money he gave her. Her Sacrificial role is manifested through her ability to cheer up and spend more time with her children.

She gets worried that she will have to leave her children with the nanny and her husband to pursue her ambitions. Additionally, Proskovya stands by the bed side comforting her husband. He explains to peter how Ivan screamed for three day s before he died until he scared her (Tolstoy 86). She has played a bigger role in looking after the two children even when Ivan was away from home.

Okonkwo commits suicide because everything he ever believed in had aeemingly fallen apart. Okonkwo can be viewed in t light of a tragic hero who would rather die than compromise his convictions on a particular issue. Although his character is wanting, his eventual death is a combination of both character flaw and uncontrollable forces that were apparently working against him. Tight from the outset, Okonkwo was a firm believer and follower of Igbo tradition and religious beliefs and practices. He must have known his fate as Obierika explains “it is an abomination for a man to take his own life. It is an offense against the Earth, and a man who commits it will not be buried by his clansmen.”(Achebe 148). His suicidal act, therefore, was committed out of conviction that the values of Igbo should be upheld at whatever cost.

The last part portrays the ignorance of colonial master on conflict and subsequent consequences that his values caused in traditional cultures. The District Commissioner believes he is enhancing peace and civilization to Igbo people but his actions turn out to be destructive in traditional culture. He does not come out of his ignorance even after witnessing Okonkwo’s death and he hopes to recap it in his book “The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger” (Achebe 149).

Okonkwo’s literal death had begun when he returned to the village from exile only to find Umuofia clan had welcomed the missionaries. The missionaries had managed to penetrate his fatherland disguised as religious people only to establish the white government laws. Even in Okonkwo’s absence Obierika had observed how the white man had succeeded in eroding the values that held Umuofia people together.

He explains “The white man is very clever…He came quietly and peaceable with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart” (Achebe 125). Okonkwo noticed something is wrong when he returns to the village, and the hero’s welcome he had expected was absent (Achebe 129). His ego is bruised by the turn of events, and he angered by his clans’ men softened nature. To quote his lamentation on Umuofia was that “men unaccountably become soft like women” (Achebe 129).

Throughout the novel we see Okonkwo as a man who feared failure. Though his ambition not to be like father had at times brought him disastrous consequences, he has turned out to be a great man in Umuofia. In fact, though in unfortunate circumstances Obierika admits “that man was one of the greatest men in Umuofia. You drove him to kill himself; and now, he will be buried like a dog… “(Achebe 147). Okonkwo being a man not known to admit failure wanted to fight back but Obierika stops him and explains “it is already too late ……can we fight when our brother have turned against us?” (Achebe 124). This confession from Obierika was the beginning of his literal death until he could not take it anymore and decided to die than watch Umuofia under siege.

The realization that he could not resist the white man and the European imperialism alone could have been so heartbreaking. The white man had destroyed the African tradition and his death is symbolic of ultimate death of African values. Okonkwo would rather die than operate under the new cultural values instilled by the white man. He realizes that he could not save the traditional value.

On the other hand, his death could be a symbolic blow from fate to make Okonkwo appear as a failure in life. His life was constantly ruled by fear of failure, but in the end the ghost of failure catches up with him. The strings of failure had been strangling him since childhood. He hated his father because he could not understand his actions. As a father he turned out to be a failure when he condemns his son to death because he had converted to Christianity. The final stretch of failure came about when he could not adapt to the changes brought by the white man. If his suicide is viewed as a personal failure, then his death is as shameful as his fathers’, the same person he had learned to detest.

To recap it all, Okonkwo suicide act is out of desperation when he realizes that Igbo’s people had fully submitted to the invaders, and shunned their traditions. The gravity of the Umuofia’s hopeless situation sinks in his conscience when he kills the white messenger. It is explained that “Okonkwo stood looking at the dead man. He knew that Umuofia would not go to war. He knew because [the clansmen] had let the other messengers escape. They had broken into tumult instead of action. He discerned fright in that tumult” (Achebe 145). His death symbolizes the consequences of the white man’s external influence on African traditional values

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. 1996. Print.

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House: Unabridged. New York: Prestwick House, Inc. 2005. Print.

Tolstoy, Leo. The Death of Ivan Ilyich and other srories. Ware: Wordsworth Edition. 2004. Print.

Vaughan, M.V. & Vaughan, T.A. (editors). The tempest, London: Arden Shakespeare, 1999. Print.

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