Abstract

Though The Tempest deploys magic as a means to resolve conflict, our sympathy for both Prospero and those under his spell forces us to consider the ethics of enchantment. This essay examines the ways in which Jim Sheridan's 2002 film In America uses this aspect of The Tempest to frame its own debate over the use of fantasy to overcome trauma. Though the film is not an adaptation, it appropriates elements to suit its purposes, including a camera-wielding child protagonist in the Prospero role, and the soothing balm of magic embodied in the sentimental ending of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, in which the struggling central family try to take solace. As its characters deal with various hardships, the film illustrates fantasy's power to acknowledge trauma by paradoxically recognising its inability to erase that trauma or render it forgettable. The film's ending mirrors Prospero's guilty rejection of magic and plea to the audience - though here we too are implicated in a desire for narrative closure that can only be satisfied by delusion. Instead, we are left with the "rough magic" of real life.

Keywords

The Tempest,In America,Jim Sheridan,Fantasy,Trauma,Death,Power,Magic,Sentimentality,Allusion

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-1427
Print ISSN
0748-2558
Pages
pp. 29-45
Launched on MUSE
2006-05-01
Open Access
No
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