Essay on The Dramatic Uses of Intoxication in Shakespeare's Play "The Tempest"

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Pages: 9

‘The Tempest' is thought to be Shakespeare's last play, written in approximately 1611. ‘The Tempest' belongs to the Romance Genre. Generally, the following features are found in a Romance: - a trial and test, a dynastic marriage, magic and the supernatural. ‘The Tempest' includes the above features, in at least one of the three main plots.

These plots are the romance between Ferdinand and Miranda; the comedy of Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo and finally, the tragedy planned by Antonio and Sebastian. All three plots, however, follow a strict structure in the form of a shipwreck, a meeting, a temptation/test, a reward/ punishment and lastly the reconciliation. In each of these plots, there is a recurrent motif, which is intoxication.
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Moreover, this loss of honour would poison the woman's whole family, therefore destroying Prospero's plan. Upon these grounds, Prospero decides that a distraction must be contrived to keep their needs at bay.

A parody of the romance of Ferdinand and Miranda has already been performed through the comedic scenes of Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo, though unlike Ferdinand, Caliban begins the scene carrying logs, complaining about Prospero and the spirits with nothing to mentally lighten the load.

Stephano soon arrives intoxicated with alcohol which causes him to assume authority unlike Propero, whose intoxication aided his brother usurp due to his lack of use of authority. Under the influence of Stephano, Caliban soon becomes intoxicated with alcohol as well and promises to show Stephano and Trinculo the island. This is similar to Prospero's arrival when Caliban showed him around under the intoxication of gratitude to the attention shown to him as Propero supposedly ‘made much of' him.

These intoxications led Caliban to become Prospero's slave which he has since regretted. On the other hand, with Stephano, he begs for him to ‘be my god.' So despite Caliban's cursing, his intoxications have allowed him to repeat his own past with only minor alterations.

Shakespeare uses the lack of rationale when intoxicated with alcohol to create what's now known as ‘slapstick comedy.' When