Discoveries are confronting and challenging, invaluable for both the individual and broader audience by prompting transformation in both mental and physical circumstances. In William Shakespeare’s play, ‘The Tempest’, Prospero’s epiphany moment triggers a sense of mercy, humiliation and fresh perception of himself and world around him. Caliban’s character challenges the stereotypes of indigenous people, in ways that are confronting yet enlightening for the Elizabethan audience. Likewise, French writer Guy de Maupassant’s short story, ‘The Necklace’ challenges typical mid 19th-century materialistic desires, offers a critical perspective for both the protagonist Loisel Mathilde and broader audience.
In effect, both texts shed light on the transformative nature of personal and social discoveries, in providing a sense of awareness, self-realisation and entirely fresh perspective. Personal discoveries force individuals to reassess their previous perspective, offering a renewed understanding of themselves and the world in which they live. In ‘the tempest’, central character Prospero is initially obsessed with power and vengeance, fuelled by the hatred of his brother Antonio, “of a world I loved he was the ivy which sucked my verdure’. The metaphoric language emphasises his desire for revenge dictating his decisions and actions.
Ariel however, challenges Prospero’s authority and awakens a sense of mercy, “Your charm so strongly works ’em / Your affections would become tender”. It becomes clear Ariel’s compassionate spirit is the catalyst for his change. His soliloquy about breaking with his magical powers enables Prosper and Miranda to return to Milan and highlights his decision to centre on family rather than self-importance, ‘”But this rough magic/ I here abjure…I’ll break my staff…and…I’ll drown my book.
” Personification of the source of power stresses his repentance and insight Prospero gained into the power magic had over him. Furthermore, the connotation of water featured in the soliloquy symbolises the washing away of vengeance and the renewal of a fresh perspective. Prospero’s sudden revelation, highlights the importance of mercy in provoking his rediscovery of oneself and those in which offended him.Similarly, in ‘The Necklace’ the protagonist, Mathilde was blinded by her materialistic desires which leads to her downfall an a moment of realisation and ultimate improvement in character. Initially, Mathilde is improvised and certain her life is a pure mistake of destiny, choosing to live in constant defiance against her circumstances.
Dreaming of ‘dainty dinners, of shining silverware… eating pink flesh of a trout or the wings of a quail’. This sweet fantasy juxtaposed with her husband’s bitter reality, ‘Ah, the good pot-au-feu!, I don’t know anything better than that’ reflects Mathilde’s inner turmoil, influencing her poor and fatalistic choices. Desiring the unreachable, Mathildes pride is responsible for the collapse of her circumstances -reducing her to bare humanity and stripping her from her false reality.
It is clear the process of discoveries fare degrading to ones’s lifestyle, however essential in gaining humiliation and an understanding of materialistic wealth. Mathilde reflects on her challenging years employing tri-colon and listing to emphasise the overwhelming nature and moment of realisation, ‘she came to know what heavy housework meant/ washed the dirty linen/ the shirts, and the dish-cloths’. Contrasting her previous beliefs and attitudes, Mathilde’s transformation in character is revealed, she became less judgemental and more resilient. She confesses the missing necklace unexpectedly offered her a sense of rejuvenation and redemption from her artificial desires, in her inner thoughts ‘How a little thing is needed for us to be lost or to be saved’.
Most importantly she gained an increased awareness of not only herself but others who remained centred on appearances, ‘Loisel knew the horrible reality of the needy’. Hence, personal discoveries whether challenging or prolonged are fundamental in the transformation of an individual. Profound discoveries are not only crucial for the individual but a wider audience.
In Shakespeare’s play, Caliban’s character challenges the stereotypes of indigenous people ultimately offering new perspectives for the Elizabethan audience. Initially, Caliban’s is portrayed as an ungrateful savage presented through animal imagery, ‘freckled whelp, hag-born…not honoured with human shape’. These attitudes mirrored the European sense of superiority over the indigenous people, which essentially resulted in the transatlantic trading patterns (slave trade). The audience gains a new and highly confronting perspective of Caliban’s character when he reveals his rich, intimate relationship with nature, ‘Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises / Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not’. Poetic language is a powerful tool to emphasise his sensuous appreciation for his land. Furthermore, Shakespeare destabilises the social structure of the Elizabethan era whilst continually questioning the attitudes of authority.
In Act 1, the roles are reversed where the Boatswain, typically a ‘servant’ with little authority or control is dismissive and order the king and other aristocrats off the deck, ‘To cabin. Silence! Trouble us not.’. His use of imperative voice and high modality highlights his superiority and dominate over the other sailors. The tempest itself acts as a symbolic motif of imbalance and instability of social structures in the Elizabethan society.
It is clear social discoveries may be confronting or provocative, however, their impact can significantly alter the beliefs and attitudes of the audience. Both William Shakespeare’s play, ‘The Tempest’ and Guy de Maupassant and his short story, ‘The Necklace’ explores the transformative nature of personal and social discoveries, in offering a sense of awareness, self-realisation and entirely fresh perspective.