AOS: DISCCOVERY ESSAY
How does Shakespeare and the author of one related text explore discovery?
Intellectual and emotional discoveries do have meaningful effects on individual’s beliefs about the world, others and themselves, which leads to further understanding of one self and unravelling new perceptions of life. Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ explores the way the protagonist Prospero rekindles his desire for vengeance when talking of his past and leads him on a journey of discovery towards the values of compassion and reconciliation. “To This Day” by Shane Koyczan explore the ways new perceptions about the familiar, shape one’s identity even when faced by conflicting and controlling cultural forces.
A discovery of new ways of thinking about politics, morality and society reflects the importance of values such as inquiry, humility, compassion and reconciliation. Shakespeare was writing in a period of new discoveries and uncertainties: challenges to traditional ways of thinking through the rediscovery of the Ancient Greek and Roman literature, philosophy and fascination with the human body and mind. He also connects authentically to the age of exploration and Montaigne’s ‘noble savage’, through the sea voyage and Caliban respectively. When confronted with an emotionally provocative issue it ascribes a form of discovery. Shakespeare explores this in The Tempest, through Prospero’s rediscovery of humanity. Prospero who is an ousted duke of Milan, powerful magician and father of Miranda, is obsessed with his power and abuses it. As the play begins, Prospero creates a tempest and shipwrecks his brother and companions to seek thy revenge from betrayal. Prospero again abuses his power and enslaves Caliban. As he interacts with Ariel, due to Ariel’s innocence, propriety and sincerity, we begin to see a change in his character. This rediscovery is initiated after “Prospero observes” in Act 5 and confronts the individuals he was extracting upon frozen in time. This confrontation forces Prospero to introspect, which Shakespeare illustrates through a soliloquy. Through the soliloquy Shakespeare expressively exposes Prospero’s emotions and process of introspection to the audience as evident by “This thing of darkness I acknowledge as mine.” By conveying Prospero’s acceptance of his actions, Shakespeare illustrates a change in Prospero’s character, from being vindictive to virtuous. This is further highlighted through, “The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance.” Through the alliteration of “v” and the juxtaposition of “virtue” ; “vengeance” Shakespeare promulgates the change in Prospero, as being the same man, but having changed. Thus, through Prospero Shakespeare illustrates how due to the provocative and spontaneous nature of confronting circumstances, individuals are forced to introspect and consequently are able to rediscover a lost or concealed emotional connection.
The poem, “To This Day”, spoken by Shane Koyczan, displays a significant impact to an individual’s perception as it gives an idea of realization where one must accept that they cannot live up to the society’s standards. The persona in “To This Day” experiences a personal and emotional discovery as also seen in “The Tempest,” especially in relation to Miranda and Prospero. Koyczan effectively uses logos and pathos when he discusses his feelings on how “the school halls were a battlefield.” This is a metaphor to explain an ongoing war at school. He must hide or flee from what is meant to be a peaceful place. Similarly, Miranda grows up isolated within a physical and emotional sphere of insularity on an island because of her father, Prospero. As Miranda is enlightened by her past, she is equipped with the ability to make connections about her identity and therefore widens her understanding about herself. “Tis far off/ And rather like a dream than an assurance/ That my remembrance warrants. Had I not/ Four or Five women once that tended me?” Miranda here is in an unstable emotional state of mind where she is in both shock and surprise. It is here where she is able to attach new meanings to old memories by contextualising the revelations which Prospero bestows upon her. This allows her to view differing perceptions of life.
“To this day…” is repeated many times throughout the poem “To This Day” and shows the emphasizing strategy of repetition. It also shows that bullying leaves lasting and permanent mental scars, the words people were taunted with as children often haunt them forever. This creates a sense of insecurity about one self which inevitably leads to destruction of thought and self-esteem. the protagonist encounters physical discoveries such as being “bombarded by spitballs” which leads to an emotional trigger forcing him to reconsider his place in society. As humans grow and adapt from differing experiences we face challenges that either make us or break us. It is how we perceive the situation that allows us to not only go through life but to grow through life. Towards the end of the spoken poem, Koyczan says “you built a cast around your broken heart and signed it yourself. You signed it ‘they were wrong.'” This is a very powerful use of imagery as you cannot physically put a cast around your heart. The imagery conveys the idea of growth and acceptance, and not to be affected by words. This further enforces the idea of personal discovery where the persona emotionally accepts his past and enters an emotional balanced state of mind.
Ultimately, “progress is impossible without change, those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” In both “The Tempest” and “To This Day” by Shakespeare and Koyczan respectively, we appreciate that personal and emotional discoveries are vital in the understanding of oneself. we saw both Prospero and Miranda, and the persona of “To This Day” undergo transformations from unpleasant experiences where they came out stronger, wiser and more succinct. Finally, personal and emotional discoveries have a meaningful effect on an individual’s beliefs about the world, others and themselves, which inevitably leads to further understanding of oneself and unravelling new perceptions of life.