Music in The Tempest and The Miller’s Tale College
Musical symbolism pervades the works of renaissance and medieval literature―used as a tool by authors to emphasize persona, atmosphere, tone, or simply to drive the plot forward. Instruments, singing, and moreover music in general are abundant throughout the works of Shakespeare and Chaucer. In Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” music acts as a conduit for advancing the story line, often providing key scenes with a distinct mood. Additionally, in “The Miller’s Tale,” Chaucer utilizes music (often ironically) to enhance characterization, thereby offering definition to characters’ actions while simultaneously revealing their true intentions. Although both The Tempest and The Miller’s Tale feature melodic devices that dramatize certain elements in the stories, Shakespeare employs said devices for plot development, whereas Chaucer focuses on character enhancement.
The music in The Tempest acts as a vehicle for Prospero’s magical abilities, helping him control each individual on the island, a substantial component in advancing the plot. The first example of this occurs when Ariel first sings “Come unto these yellow sands,” (I, ii, 452) magically luring all to the island and beckoning Ferdinand closer to Miranda. Ariel’s second song...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 1178 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 9120 literature essays, 2378 sample college application essays, 399 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in