Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Game of Chess

Of the plays we have read, I would probably consider The Tempest to be my least favorite. As I finished the reading, though, I did pick up on one interesting thing that I thought would be good to bring up. I think the fact that Ferdinand and Miranda are playing a game of chess at the end of the play, in Act V, is quite interesting. There has to be a reason why Shakespeare chose to have them play a game that requires the capturing of a king. The game somewhat parallels the story because at this moment in the play, Prospero has “captured” the king. The game is symbolic because he has gotten Alonso right where he wants him. He tricked him and, in a sense, reprimanded him for what he did to Prospero in the past. In this, he has gotten Alonso’s son to fall in love and promise to marry Miranda without the king’s own knowledge. This was smart of Prospero, for Alonso will most likely not argue or show to be unsupportive. After being so upset at the thought of having lost his son, he is more likely just to be happy that he is still okay. 

What began as a tumultuous storm at the hands of Prospero, has become a series of strategical moves.  Prospero has managed to maneuver the various people around the island just as chess pieces move across a board at the hands of a skilled player. He has made all of his moves and successfully done what he set out to do. 

I find it interesting that Shakespeare chose this game to be the one Ferdinand and Miranda would be revealed playing by the end. It is impressive that one scene in the play can have so much meaning and foster a better understanding of the play altogether. Did Shakespeare just happen to choose chess, or was the game meant to symbolize what I have discussed? These things are what make literature and writing so intriguing. This is especially true due to the lack of information and the almost mysterious ways of Shakespeare.

1 comment:

Cyrus Mulready said...

We had a great conversation about the game of chess in our last class, Sam, partly inspired by your post! I think that you are right to point to the power that goes along with the game of chess, the symbolism of the pieces, and the way in which Prospero himself is controlling the various characters in the play. One of the interesting questions about this play is whether he ever gives up that power; perhaps, he just gives it to Miranda and Ferdinand?