Conflict is a crucialelement in the process of self-discovery, as it is times of struggle thatcatalyse a reassessment of personal paradigms.
William Shakespeare’s last play ‘The Tempest’ (1610), canvasses theconsequences of shaping our understanding of how our flaws incite a willingnessto change. Prospero, the usurped Duke of Milan, shows this to be true, movingfrom a mindset focused on vengeance to a profound discovery of compassion.Similarly, in Viktor Frankl’s Holocaust memoir ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ (1946), fulfilment withdiscovering how we find meaning and cope with unrelenting struggle isillustrated. Frankl’s two distinctive writing styles guide us to recognise theinnate need to find purpose and overcome obstacles leading to a doorway of self-transcendence.Thus, composers shape our understanding of the process as well as theexperience of discovery.
An obsession with powerand control can limit the ability to discover our potential. Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ uses thedistinctive characterisation of main protagonist Prospero as a vengeful exilerevealing how twelve years of harbouring bitterness cause an imbalance of one’sself. Shakespeare’s pathetic fallacy “a tempestuous noise of thunder andlightning heard” mirrors the immense power of Prospero’s magic as well as hisinner turmoil which he desires to inflict on others. Thus, Shakespeare’sdistinctive metatheatrical device of the storm positions the audience toexperience the conflict that catalyses his discovery process. Moreover, Prospero’sreflective tone in Act 1 when relaying to Miranda his neglect of Milan, “and tomy state grew stranger, being transported and rapt in secret studies….
neglecting of worldly ends all dedicated to closeness” connotes his loss ofcontrol of real political power preferring “closeness” of spiritual knowledge.The Renaissance was an era of change- moving away from traditional ideas of theCatholic church, questioning the nature of God and started to pursue occult lore.The outbreak Bubonic plague had a catastrophic effect on human life and theCatholic church in turn extensively blamed magic leading to many persecutions.Shakespeare sets a tone for the beginning play capturing a cultural anxietyabout magic: the wonder of getting lost in “secret studies.” Thus, Prospero’sinner conflict that is established from the outset invites us to rediscoverRenaissance paradigmatic paradoxes and how they underscored the universal humanneed to see and recover control. Through Prospero’s journey from virtue tovengeance, we discover the need to seek intrinsic rather than extrinsic power. Moreover, suffering givesthe opportunity to discover meaning in life. Viktor Frankl’s catalytic “Man’s Search for Meaning,” establishesFrankl’s three distinctive psychological phases of prisoners adjusting toconcentration camp life, enabling him to realise in extreme conditions, peoplecan and will survive if they have a strong reason to live.
Frankl begins hischronological telling; recalling the aural memory of the train’s whistle, “theengine’s whistle had an uncanny sound, like a cry for help sent out incommiseration for the unhappy load which it was destined to lead intoperdition” reflecting the physical immobilization of the victims in the terrorthat awaited.