Conflict is a crucial
element in the process of self-discovery, as it is times of struggle that
catalyse a reassessment of personal paradigms. William Shakespeare’s last play ‘The Tempest’ (1610), canvasses the
consequences of shaping our understanding of how our flaws incite a willingness
to change. Prospero, the usurped Duke of Milan, shows this to be true, moving
from 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 with
discovering how we find meaning and cope with unrelenting struggle is
illustrated. Frankl’s two distinctive writing styles guide us to recognise the
innate 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 the
experience of discovery.
An obsession with power
and control can limit the ability to discover our potential. Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ uses the
distinctive characterisation of main protagonist Prospero as a vengeful exile
revealing how twelve years of harbouring bitterness cause an imbalance of one’s
self. Shakespeare’s pathetic fallacy “a tempestuous noise of thunder and
lightning heard” mirrors the immense power of Prospero’s magic as well as his
inner turmoil which he desires to inflict on others. Thus, Shakespeare’s
distinctive metatheatrical device of the storm positions the audience to
experience the conflict that catalyses his discovery process. Moreover, Prospero’s
reflective tone in Act 1 when relaying to Miranda his neglect of Milan, “and to
my state grew stranger, being transported and rapt in secret studies….
neglecting of worldly ends all dedicated to closeness” connotes his loss of
control of real political power preferring “closeness” of spiritual knowledge.
The Renaissance was an era of change- moving away from traditional ideas of the
Catholic church, questioning the nature of God and started to pursue occult lore.
The outbreak Bubonic plague had a catastrophic effect on human life and the
Catholic church in turn extensively blamed magic leading to many persecutions.
Shakespeare sets a tone for the beginning play capturing a cultural anxiety
about magic: the wonder of getting lost in “secret studies.” Thus, Prospero’s
inner conflict that is established from the outset invites us to rediscover
Renaissance paradigmatic paradoxes and how they underscored the universal human
need to see and recover control. Through Prospero’s journey from virtue to
vengeance, we discover the need to seek intrinsic rather than extrinsic power.
Moreover, suffering gives
the opportunity to discover meaning in life. Viktor Frankl’s catalytic “Man’s Search for Meaning,” establishes
Frankl’s three distinctive psychological phases of prisoners adjusting to
concentration camp life, enabling him to realise in extreme conditions, people
can and will survive if they have a strong reason to live. Frankl begins his
chronological telling; recalling the aural memory of the train’s whistle, “the
engine’s whistle had an uncanny sound, like a cry for help sent out in
commiseration for the unhappy load which it was destined to lead into
perdition” reflecting the physical immobilization of the victims in the terror