ALIENATION AND RESTORATION IN SHAKESPEARE
Theater is conflict. It is the acting out of opposing forces for the sake of examining aspects of the human condition. Conflicts come in many forms. Individuals may be poised against society, themselves, supernatural forces, or other individuals. Furthermore, the conflicts themselves can be subdivided into emotional states and temperaments. Jealousy may be expressed within the context of a conflict, as might greed or ambition. Frequently, these emotions or states are the generating force and exacerbating condition of these conflicts.
One particular characteristic of much conflict is alienation. An individual isolated from a particular desirable aspect of his or her life is placed in a position of need, and therefore of conflict. An individual isolated from others may desire love or power. An individual isolated from his or her selfhood may desire self-awareness. An individual isolated from society may seek reintegration.
These various species of alienation occur throughout Shakespeare's plays. Individuals find themselves cut off from other characters, removed from society, isolated from their true natures, placed in opposition to that which they desire. From these conditions comes conflict. Frequently, the resolution of these conflicts makes up the substance of the plot action. Alienation is resolved through restoration, and the process of restoration, whether with self, others, society or God, provides the impetus of the drama.
As well, the way in which the restoration is effected differs depending on the intent of Shakespeare. Alienation and restoration take on different tones and are used to different purposes depending upon whether the play is a comedy, a tragedy or a romance. In fact, the way these themes are resolved determines whether the play is comic, tragic or problematic. Comedic alienation leads to plot contrivances such as mistaken identity, exaggerated lack of self...