The Sound of Disobedience: Shakespeare’s The Tempest
|Keywords:||莎士比亞;暴風雨;聲音;音樂;卡力班;Shakespeare;The Tempest;music;soundscape;Caliban||Issue Date:||2007||Abstract:||null
The sense of hearing plays an important role in Renaissance England theatre to the extent that we modern audience, who are accustomed to visual spectacles, can hardly imagine. Due to the limited techniques at that time, orality shares the same explanatory power with, even prevails over visuality on the stage. My thesis aims at re-discovering the neglected auditory dimensions in Shakespeare’s theatrical world, taking The Tempest as a major example. First I contextualize the concept of sounds and hearing in early modern England. The Renaissance attitude toward music is quite divided: whereas the concept of music is considered as embodiment of divine order in neo-platonism, the real performance of music is condemned as spiritual distraction from God in religious discourses. The sense of hearing is taken not only as a spiritual access to God but also the site where true obedience shall originate. To examine the employment of sound in Renaissance theatre, I approach three of Shakespeare’s plays, Hamlet, Macbeth, and Twelfth Night, each from different auditory dimensions. Instead of taking the music as a univocal symbol of harmony, the sounds are more delicately employed to interact with the verbal text. Based on these approaches, I present an integrated examination of the theatrical soundscape of The Tempest. Shakespeare portrays that the music is socially constructed as ‘high’ and ‘low’ ones, and the ruler is anxious to face the crisis of these two different musical spheres crossing over each other. Unlike previous critics’ conclusion of the music as a harmonious one, I argue that this musical concord is rendered ambivalent and fictional, and the absence of music in the end gives a hint on the superficial reconciliation. Instead of presenting Prospero as a musician king like Orpheus, who uses music to comfort creatures, Shakespeare demonstrates how Prospero controls his subject by monopolizing the soundscape on the island. Being a failed ruler once, the magician now usurps Ariel’s voice as his political instrument and forces attention from Miranda and Ferdinand. The disobedient Caliban and his drunken company find the form of their rebelling energy in the music, which threatens to corrupt the idealized auditory world of Prospero’s masque. The soundscape of The Tempest, which is filled of both painful cries and magical songs, undermines neo-platonic idea of music and further exhibits a Machiavellian usage of sounds in Shakespeare’s theatrical world.
|Appears in Collections:||外國語文學系|
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