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.