The use of songs in"TheTempest"
Shakespeare's use of songs is superb.Songs are effective in giving life a meaningful direction.It has power to bring a sense of decency in life.And Shakespeare has achieved this noble aim by using songs in his play "The Tempest".
The Use of Songs in The Tempest
The song is by no means an uncommon feature in the Elizabethan dramas;but songs of Shakespeare differ from those of his contemporary dramatists as much as he differs from them as a dramatic artist .It is true that Shakespeare did not invent the use of song in the dramas .But it was he who made the drama with song in it a consistent art form.It was he who first grasped all the possibilities afforded by song for forwarding the action.
Regarding the use of songs in The Tempest ,Mr. Noble says ;music is the very life of the play,without it ,the play would be impossible of presentation.Caliban says of the scene of its action :
"The isle is full of noises ,
Sounds and sweet airs that give delight
and hurt not."
Stephano is glad that "it will prove a brave kingdom to me when I shall have my music for nothing ."There are frequent opportunities not only for vocal music ,but also for orchestral as well.Shakespeare has always been successful in making this music natural and free from absurdity.
In "The Tempest" with the exception of the characters which Prospero discloses Ariel ,Stephano and Caliban ,do all the singing.The singing is every-time in keeping with character.
Ariel is distinctly ethereal,Stephano,s has a very human,work-a-day note and Caliban's has all the intensity of a primitive in giving vent to his hatred for drudgery.
Of Ariel's songs , Hazlitt observed that without conveying any distinct image ,they seem to recall all the feelings connected with them ,like snatches of half-forgotten music heard distinctly and at intervals .This is just the effect in Act 1,Scene 2 of the first two songs
"Come unto these yellow sands and
...........full fathom five." The laughing invitation of the former has drawn Ferdinand hither from the sea ,and the illusion is given of terraform by the noise of dogs barking and cocks crowing .The singing has already ceased.When it commences ,but now in another strain and from the waters beyond the sands .Ferdinand is mocked into the belief that his father is drowned and the nymphs are presented grief.This impression is given by the songs that Ariel has translated it into song .One does not know whether the singing is real or a mere delusion of the scenes.
Ariel as an unsubstantial creature of the air ,can hardly talk otherwise than in song .Where music in any form is ,he is there too.In Act iii scene ii when Stephano and Trinculo are endeavoring to sing, Ariel intervenes and corrects them with tabor and pipe much to their terror .When in Act ii ,scene i ,Gonzalo is to be warned of the assassination Sebastian and Antonio are devising,it is by singing in Gonzalo's ear that the sleeper is awakened as by a bird.
Finally in Act v ,while he is attiring Prospero and just as he is about to be freed ,he sings of himself and as if to himself :
"Where the bee sucks ,there suck I ,
In a cows' lips bell I lie ;
There I coach where owls do cry
On the bat's back I do fly."
Such an ideal life in such a few words ! It is this brevity and speed of development which distinguishes Shakespeare's songs from all others .
In contrast to Ariel are Stephano and Caliban and a song is made to be the means of Stephano's introduction to the audience .The song is hardly appropriate to a drawing room.