Manipulation of Tension

Length: 1438 words

Shakespeare manipulates the ensign to make this a climactic scene by use and change of language, of character and setting to emphasis the tragedy in the consequences of the kings faults, which then allows the play to move on to a more pastoral and comedic theme. The scene begins with the entrance of King Lentos, appearing awake and calm, although sleep deprived from worry, for the formality of the whole event, already contrasting the previous scene’s mad and jealous rage which the king proudly exhibits, and thus surprises the audience and prepares them for the deterioration that will soon follow.

Lentos’ language in his first lines reflects the calm and fair facade he puts on, using the royal ‘we’ to convey formality and seeming to give Heroine the hope of a fair trial: “This sessions, to our great grief we pronounce Even pushes ‘against our heart: the party tried The daughter of a king, our wife, and one Of us much too beloved. ” This would undoubtedly make audience feel as If there Is some remaining Inch of him that sully loves and respects his wife. The playwright uses this to create an atmosphere of optimism which will soon be

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broken by the reappearance of Lentos’ madness.

Shakespeare further uses the language of even minor characters to build and manipulate tension, such as the officer’s “Silence! ” to keep the lookers-on surprise to a quiet minimum, which will inform the director that the actress playing Heroine will appear as bedraggled and unkempt from her time in the prison. The court setting of the trial scene sets the play up for further manipulation of tension. What is expected from a trial is action and debate, and Shakespeare allows the audience to prepare for moving arguments from Heroine and thus the changing of Lentos’ view of his wrongly accused wife.

However due to Lentos’ Jealous nature, It could be foreseen that Lentos will maintain his accusations. In either situation, the court scene allows for a huge build-up of tension experienced by the audience. The beginnings of the contrast between Lentos and Heroine begin, for the audience, with their physical appearance. Lentos, clad in full royal dress for the trial, and untidy, having had everything materially and psychologically important torn away from her and unable thus far to recover from childbirth before the trial.

This immediately shows their differences and the effect and extent of Lentos’ Jealousy, hat he would allow his once most beloved wife to turn to prisoner on a single abstract thought. The contrast between them is added to by the difference in their language. Although her appearance is in turmoil, Heroine’s speech is confident, repeating words such as “l” and “my’ to enforce her presence there, and this speech is the only part which fulfills a typical court scene. This is one of Heroine’s first showings of truly strong character, her innocence fuelling her argument.

She does put her life in the hands of fate, but continues a strong case, dignified and logical in ere behavior and language, listing things that may conjure up romantic thoughts of Heroine in the Kings head: “For behold me, A fellow of the royal bed, which owe A moiety of the throne, a great kings daughter, The mother to a hopeful prince” in the hope that these might change Lentos’ mind, or at least leave her with her honor, which she cared for as it will affect her children. Her argument is persuasive and logical, and thus the audience will expect the King to give in to her.

However, so as to build more dramatic tension, Shakespeare will not yet allow Lentos to cave to ere, which adds to the dynamic, and, with the amount of tension now built up on it, emphasizes the importance of the scene. Lentos’ language begins as calm an collected, however as the scene goes on, his madness returns when Heroine suggests that his Jealousy is merely a “dream”. From here his language deteriorates, his violent speech interjected by new thoughts and broken up at seemingly unnecessary points.

Here the audience can see the breaking point for Lentos; as soon as his elaborate lie is doubted, he retaliates with the promise of “no less than death”. However, as this threat is introduced, so too is a new point of tension – Heroine’s fate. She embraces death, which Lentos has so far used to frighten her with, as she has already lost her most prized possessions: his favor, their son, and their daughter. She closes her argument and puts her fate in the hands of the oracle. Shakespeare constantly leads up to but does not conclude the reconciliation of Heroine and Lentos, and through this increases the strain on the scene.

Heroine seems safe when the scroll from Delphic returns with the truth of her chastity, but the king believes none of it, showing his Jealous nature once again. The playwright sees the reading of the oracle as a moment of relief for the audience, as one would expect that going through such lengths to hear from the oracle the king would believe the answer, and thus Shakespeare can use this to manipulate the scene’s dramatic tension by immediately contradicting the audience’s expectations.

When the oracle’s Judgment is read out, there is a sense of hope felt by the audience, however Lentos’ final verdict, a desperate attempt to keep control of the situation, immediately intensifies the tragedy of and tension in the play when Apollo makes hearing this news Heroine faints. The stage at this point will be full of action and confusion, representative of Lentos’ conflicting thoughts and realization of his error, and the audience experiences a sudden change in his character.

This change in character is most easily seen through Lentos’ alteration of language; his speech becomes much more controlled and formulated that his previously static and unrecognized fury, and his vocabulary changes from violent – “brat”, lewd-?tongued wife”, “The bastard brains with these my proper hands/’ Shall I dash out” – to positive words, such as “good”, “honor”, “truth” and “mercy’. This shows Shakespearean manipulation of character to emphasis the tension in the play.

Here the audience will have been led into a false sense of security by Lentos’ redemption. Paling’s extremely in-character, well-structured and sarcastic speech is an elongation of the turning point of the play. Here, after Lentos’ realization of his mistakes, Pauline reinforces his tyranny and puts herself on the line for her queen. Her speech can be split up into sections in which she addresses each one of the consequences of the kings Jealousy, and the structure in itself builds up a vast amount of tension.

She begins by asking him what could be done to her that would be worse than his crimes against his friends and family: “What old or newer torture Must I receive, whose every word deserves To taste of thy most worst? ” Pauline then goes on to count his errors: “thou betrayed Politeness”; “have poisoned good Camisole’s honor”; “casting forth to crows thy baby daughter”; “the death/’ Of the young prince”. In each of these she uses phrases to build the argument up to a climax, saying that one fault is not nearly as bad as the final mistake he has made: “But the last – O lords,

When I have said, cry woe! The Queen, the Queen, The sweetest, dearest creature’s dead! ” This climactic ending to the speech leads the tension to a new high, and as the end of the scene draws too close so too does the intense action. After hearing of his wife’s death, the king further comes to realize his mistakes. He forms a bond with Pauline over the loss of their beloved queen, and while Pauline promises to speak no more of her, Lentos swears to visit the grave of his wife and son every day. From the end of Act Ill scene ii no more is seen of Sicilian for 16 years.

This in itself is a manipulation of tension as, while the play continues in Bohemia and the mood changes to the comedic side of the tragicomedy, there will still be the goings-on of Sicilian to think about. The audience will be left with a sense of worry after such an eventful scene and the effectiveness of Shakespearean manipulation of the tension. The playwright manipulates the tension of the scene through various climactic moments that are easily identifiable through events, use of language and the setting the audience for the rest of the performance because of the action and business in this small part of the piece.

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