The Tempest The Romances
The Romances or later comedies • Although Shakespeare’s plays are usually divided between tragedies, comedies and histories, 4 of his final plays are usually referred to as the romances or late-comedies: • 1.Pericles, 2.Cymbeline, 3.The Winter’s Tale & 4.The Tempest • The plot has a measure of independence from the doings of the characters. (Something driving the plot such as fate or magic) • Wildly implausible, if not shocking incidents, such as storms, shipwrecks and other ‘acts of God’ drive the plot. (in TWT ‘exit pursued by a bear’) • Families are often scattered on land or sea, doomed to wander, and then astonishingly reunited at the close of the play. • Terrible calamities are narrowly avoided from sudden changes of heart ending in reunion, forgiveness & restoration of order.
Because romances combine both tragic and comic elements, John Fletcher called them "tragi-comedies" (a term which he coined in the preface to The Faithful Shepherdess, 1608; • According to Fletcher, a tragi-comedy "wants deaths, which is enough to make it no tragedy, yet brings some near it, which is enough to make it no comedy." • Like comedy, romance includes a love-intrigue and culminates in a happy ending. Like tragedy romance has a serious plot-line (betrayals, tyrants, usurpers of thrones) and treats serious themes; it is darker in tone (more serious) than comedy. While tragedy emphasizes evil, and comedy minimises it, romance acknowledges evil -- the reality of human suffering.
Romance is a natural step in describing human experience after tragedy. • Tragedy involves irreversible choices made in a world where time leads inexorably to the tragic conclusion. In Romance, time seems to be "reversible"; there are second chances and fresh starts. As a result, categories such as cause and effect, beginning and end, are displaced by a sense of simultaneity and harmony. Tragedy is governed by a sense of Fate (Macbeth, Hamlet) or Fortune (King Lear); in Romance, the sense of destiny comes instead from Divine Providence. • Tragedy depicts alienation and destruction, Romance, reconciliation and restoration. In tragedies, characters are destroyed as a result of their own actions and choices; in Romance, characters respond to situations and events rather than provoking them. • Tragedy tends to be concerned with revenge, Romance with forgiveness. Plot structure in Romance moves beyond that of tragedy: an event with tragic potential leads not to tragedy but to a providential experience.
The providential "happy ending" of a Romance bears a superficial resemblance to that of a comedy. But while the tone of comedy is genial and exuberant, Romance has a muted tone of happiness -- joy mixed with sorrow. • Like comedies, Romances tend to end with weddings, but the focus is less on the personal happiness of bride and groom (the culmination of an individual passion) than on the healing of rifts within the total human community. Thus, whereas comedy focuses on youth, Romance often has middle-aged and older protagonists in pivotal roles. • Similarly, while tragedy deals with events leading up to individual deaths, Romance emphasizes the cycle of life and death. While tragedy explores characters in depth (emphasis on individual psychology), Romance focuses instead on archetypes, the collective and symbolic patterns of human experience. Compared to characters in a Shakespearean tragedy (or comedy), romance characters may seem shallow or one-dimensional. But Romance characters are not meant to be psychologically credible; their experiences have symbolic significance extending beyond the limits of their own lives and beyond rational comprehension. In Romance, the emphasis shifts from individual human nature to Nature.
common in the 4 Romances • an enveloping conflict (war, rebellion, jealousy, treachery, intrigue) that may cover a large time span (conflict begun a generation before events of play) and is resolved at end of play • happy endings to potentially tragic situations (e.g. apparent resurrection, sudden conversions, etc.) • themes of transgression, expiation/atonement and redemption; villain(s) penitent rather than punished at end • improbable plots; rapid action; surprises; extraordinary occurrences (shipwrecks; disguises; riddles; children/parents lost and found; supernatural events/beings) • characters of high social class; rural and court settings; extremes of characterization (exalted virtue and deep villainy) • love of a virtuous hero and heroine; "pure" and "gross" loves often contrasted
The young girl • The romances are notable for their daughters with symbolic names who intervene as instruments of special grace, restore hope and perception to fathers who have lost their way and are saved from their guilt, grief and despair. Marina in Pericles, = ‘from the sea’ Fidele in Cymbeline, = as in fidelity Perdita in The Winter’s Tale, =‘lost’ Miranda in The Tempest = ‘worthy of admiration’ • Praised for beauty, it is these girls, not the boys they fall in love with, who are responsible for ensuring restoration and reconciliation occurs in the romances.
The Sea- as a motif in the romances • (i) Incoming tide cleans the dirty shore – cleansing, restoring quality, washing away traces of the past (5.1.79-82) • The sea is often an image of the untamed and therefore unpredictable. The Tempest shows the movement from chaos to order. • Mythical terms: an agent of discovery, recognition and reversal