“Excellent Dumb Discourse”: Silence and Grace in Shakespeare's Tempest

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English (Scripps)

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Arts and Humanities | Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | English Language and Literature


Critics have commented on the poetic thinness of The Tempest, and some have expressed surprise that the play has such great imaginative impact in spite of its paucity of poetic and theoretical effect. The language is characteristic of Shakespeare's late plays, terse, sparse, lacking the rhetorical embellishment and exuberance of his earlier style. It is relatively scarce in imagery, and what there is of it remains concrete and sensuous, rather than assuming the resonance of metaphor or symbol which is vitally integrated into imaginative conception. Hallett Smith, observing this thinness of texture, wonders "why this should be...critics find it difficult to account for the effect the play has upon them."


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© 1978 Taylor and Francis

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