Visual imagery in Shakespeare’s plays

I have always been fascinated by the stunning visual imagery in Shakespeare’s plays .While Shakespeare uses all the sensory effects in imagery very effectively the fact that the plays are essentially meant to be acted out on the stage and not to be read in the study makes the visual imagery a necessary ingredient of the plays .The sheer beauty of the imagery might have gone over the heads of the essentially plebeian audience of the Elizabethan era but to the discerning reader the beauty continues to captivate.

The following lines from “the Tempest”
have some of the most enthralling visual imagery that one comes across n Shakespeare’s plays :

…of his bones are coral made
Those are pearls that were his eyes
Nothing of him that doth change
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange…”

The most fascinating aspect of the above lines comes from the “ethereal” quality of the lines as they are spoken by an essentially aerial creature “Ariel”. Here is what the poet conveys about the evanescence of human existence ,at the same time bringing out the superiority of art over an organic existence. The noble Prince is supposed to undergo a spiritual transformation from an essentially flesh-and-blood existence into an infinitely beauteous natural existence,pure and pristine like a pearl to be found in the depths of the ocean.


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