While reading our latest assignment of The Tempest, Act IV, I was astonished to realize how similar it was to today’s soap operas, dramas, or reality TV. We are about to get a happily ever after, the marrige of Miranda and Ferdinand, but WAIT past drama, Caliban’s murderous plot, surfaces causing Prospero to hault the services and dramatically exit. A common tactic to lengthen movies, keep watchers tuned in, or just a hook to hold people though commercials is about 3/4 of the way though, cause drama, something critical that could ruin the imminent happy ending. By giving a taste of the good, by showing us a bit of the wedding, the watchers/readers get excited for the ending, ready to watch it. Throwing in the drama gets the watchers more invested because they understand what is at stake if the crisis is not resolved. Shakespeare employs this tactic when we get to see Ferdinand finally free and ready to marry and then throws in Caliban, Triculo, and Stephano’s plot to rile up the audience against them and keep them involved.
Many people say that Hollywood takes Shakespear and ruins it by adding unnessasary drama or artistic flair. Critics point to Romeo + Juliet, She’s the Man, Westside Story, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Independance Day saying that the drama was not true to the story and takes away from Shakespeares masterpieces. But its interesting to see that even back then he shamelessly used a reality tv device of hooking the reader. Maybe he wasn’t as stuffy as we all think.
In Emma, Harriet is a fascinating character. She has all of the physical assets of flawless beauty yet her wit/cleverness and general social skills aren’t very in tune. Because of this, Emma takes Harriet under her wing and tries to “better” her by making her more adept to “high society”. Emma tries to play matchmaker and wants to have Harriet and Mr. Elton fall in love, because Harriet is so pliable and in awe of any and everything Emma says/does, this is relatively easy. Harriet is very easily complimented and flattered, and I feel her character is Austen’s way of satirizing young love. All it takes is Emma telling Harriet that Mr. Elton loved and framed her picture, for her to be all flattered and feel attached to Mr. Elton, the book states,”Harriet smiled again, and her smiles grew stronger” (41). The fact that such simple acts create such happiness and attachment in Harriet reveals the satirization of youth and how young people want to be loved/accepted so badly that anything, even the smallest acts, can flatter them and make them feel attached to someone. Later in the novel it states,” ..and as for Harriet’s feelings, they were visibly forming themselves into as strong and steady attachment as her youth and sort of mind admitted” (50). This quote reveals Harriet’s satirical portion in the novel, and how the ways in which she is so easily complimented and attached to people such as Emma and Mr. Elton, satirize teenager’s want of love and acceptance. Harriet’s character in Emma, reminds me of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which some view as the most beautifully romantic play ever written. But in some respects it is also satirizing young love and the ways in which teenagers quickly fall so deeply in love and are willing to do completely irrational things for this love.