The Tempest

Mythology In Shakespeare College

Many of Shakespeare’s plays contain the structural and symbolic elements of mythology. The inheritance of mythological conventions, which shall be explored in this essay, create an effect that is ritualistic and leads to Nietzsche’s observation of ‘an overpowering feeling of unity which leads back to the heart of nature’. This essay is not claiming that Shakespeare applied mythic elements to his plays consciously but that Shakespeare’s plays demonstrate a strong level of acquaintance with ancient myths and folklore. This level of acquaintance is perhaps so deeply imbedded as part of the universal imagination that arguing whether or not the plays’ mythic elements were consciously applied is unnecessary. The aim here is to identify strong mythological strains in order to place Shakespeare in a wider historical and human context, and speculate as to the effects achieved by inclusion of these elements. Through a consideration of Frazer’s canonical anthropological text, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (1890), primarily, this essay will assert that the effect of Shakespeare’s mythological aspects is one that communicates in a symbolic language that is universal.

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