The Tempest

The Tempest and Use of the Masque Genre College

During the 16th century, the court masque was a popular form of entertainment, one often used to celebrate the king and aristocracy. Shakespeare's greatest contribution to the genre was his play The Tempest, which masterfully wove the elements of the popular masque right into the fabric of the plot. This drama enables us to examine the inner workings of a masque without necessary classifying as a pure masque. In order to truly understand how The Tempest was a significant contribution to the masque genre, the reader must understand what the basic elements of a court masque are, and how these different elements were weaved into the creation of The Tempest.

The court masques of the Renaissance era where a form of entertainment that combined spoken word, dance, song, and storytelling into an allegorical story of the power of the king and aristocracy. Court masques began to flourish during the 16th through 17th centuries, and reached their zenith at the end of the reign of house Stuart (Frans Van Dijkhuizen). In a departure from the plays and dramas of the time, most of the action during a court masque was taken up by the settings itself. The audience, the actors, the King, and the set were all equal parts of the performance....

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