AD's English Literature : January 2017

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Imagery in William Shakespeare’s Plays: “We should see each play as an extended metaphor”

 Imagery in a play has certain functions to fulfill mainly to compensate dramatic presentation for the heavy liabilities inherent in its form. This is more so in the case of poetic drama whether of ancient Aeschylus, Elizabethan Shakespeare or modern Synge. The poetic drama for its success must cultivate the virtue of intensity and compactness—a virtue which is very much dependent on functional imagery for its breadth and scope, for rousing in us an acute awareness of the broader perspective against the backdrop of which the dramatic events actually occur, Again, drama, while clinging to its ongoing motion can convey the charge carried by its imagery to achieve a more detailed exposition or fuller elaboration of a character or a theme ma short time, which is not possible in the case of reflective verse and prose with its leisurely pace and descriptive method. These functions of imagery in poetic drama are equally observable at all times and climes in the western world. According to Una Ellis-Fermor, these “may be seen at work in the Greek drama as in that of the Elizabethans, at intervals in the drama of the con-tinent down to the present day and in England again since the revival of the poetic drama in the twentieth century.” (The Frontiers of Drama).

“Character is Destiny.”- Is this a Completely Satisfying Description of the Tragic Vision of Life in the Tragedies of William Shakespeare? (The Role of Fate)

 As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods.
 They kill us for their sport.” King Lear: Act 4, Scene 1

The supernatural even when treated by a genius like Shakespeare sometimes appears to offer a crude method in tragedy for achieving that universality which remains the main tragic concern of a dramatist. The appearance of witches and ghosts as in Macbeth and Hamlet may not fully satisfy the modern audience, somewhat free of primeval impulses. Perhaps a better method employed to secure this universal effect lies in the sense of fate which is represented in a number of tragedies, both ancient and modern. In Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus, we feel the presence of some force constantly baffling human effort. This sense of fate again appears in Shakespeare in a different, modified and perhaps refined form.

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