Arts to Enchant
Arts to Enchant
The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale
This chapter examines Shakespeare’s The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale. It argues that the religious diversity—even inclusiveness—that many see as characteristic of these plays is most perfectly rendered musically, where the metaphorical power of social concord and the persistent idea of universal harmony lend extra charge to performed songs. In the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot and in the context of ongoing attempts by the clergy and laity to compromise regarding the use of music in the early Jacobean church, the harmonies of The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale resonate with the urgency of religious and social cooperation. These two plays represent music as both a speculative and practical art with myriad potentials for use and abuse. They ultimately suggest that the real power of music comes not so much from unexplained sources as from human performance and human myth making. But in Shakespeare’s late plays, the human element of music—its capacity for artistry and cooperation—makes it capable of not only deception and coercion, but also reconciliation.
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