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An imaginative journey is a speculative process that occurs in the mind liberating us from rational limitations. It is able to transport the characters as well as responders on an imaginative journey through ht use of language and visual techniques. The power of an imaginative text inspires responders to an imaginative world which provokes exploration, challenges the way of thinking and enticing us on a journey of speculation. The play ‘The Tempest' by William Shakespeare, the artwork ‘Endless Voyage' by Georgio de Chirico and the poem ‘Ode on the Grecian Urn' by John Keats all highlights the importance of speculation and reflection as the vehicle for self-transformations.
‘The Tempest' is an imaginative journey that gets the responder to enter a fantasy world where magic, spirits and monsters are able to exist. Whilst both Prospero and Shakespeare are composers of this imaginary world, Shakespeare structures and presents the imaginary plot of ‘The Tempest' as writer of the play, whilst Prospero narrates the play. Writing and controlling the events through his magic art and creating the plot. However, Shakespeare still tries to make the audience aware of the importance of reconciliation and forgiveness, and he does this through his character Prospero. Shakespeare uses character development to communicate the transformation. Prospero uses his Art to conjure the “external geography” of the island. Prospero at the start of the play creates a Tempest to incite the revenge on those who have usurped him from his dukedom; this dramatic device illustrates his powers of manipulation as well as his perceived ability to control the events around him. He shipwrecks them, placing them on a distinctly sensory journey and this being a symbolic representation of “the perils of human life”. Once Prospero has them on his enchanted island, he places them on an imaginative journey to force them to truly repent and come to terms with the enormity of the wrong they have done to him. His driven force for revenge slowly becomes a desire to reconcile, and this also is from the help of Ariel who provokes him “Your charm so strongly works ‘em/ That if you now beheld them, your affections/ Would become tender…/ Mine would, sir, were I human.” His power is used positively to those have wronged him towards personal virtue. His agency as both narrator and protagonist makes him most exposed to the spiritual elements in the play, and effectively undergoes a “sea change into something rich and strange.” When he affects the guidance force of imagination, Prospero learns that “the rarer act is in virtue than in vengeance” and becomes a forgiving character by the end of the play. Iris, the rainbow goddess also is a representation of Prospero's forgiveness. This is based on the rainbow's symbolic meaning the storm is over, and harmony is restored. Prospero's role of narrator allows him to interact with the responder through his soliloquies and subsequently, allows the audience to enter the story. Prospero abandons his Art, “My charms are all o'erthorwn/ And what strengths I have's mine own.” This technique adds significance to the piece, implying that in completion of his imaginative journey, Prospero must now need the power of the responder to save him, since he is without his Art. Prospero's action by the end of the play are anticipated to be conveyed to the audience, who then in allowing themselves to see merit in Prospero's action can also “be moved” in learning to lead a life forgiving and repenting.
Similarly, ‘Endless Voyage' takes responders on an imaginative journey in a disordered illusionary world full of ‘Endless' discoveries. This piece of metaphysical work focuses on abstract objects and destabilising them as symbols of fear and mystery. It provides a frightening synthesis of the past and present through combinations of ancient and modern myths, disturbing our perceptions and disquieting responders. Events that occur in the play and painting have unlikely events in the world as we know it, but they are presented in the imagination where there are unlimited possibilities. A blur of the border between indoor and outdoor spaces and the juxtaposition of completely two different worlds conveys an ominous realm and a disconcerting ambience. Objects present in the foreground like the faceless mannequin signify discoveries of fears in life in which people see as bad but never do we conceive from another perspective and believe it may be good. In contrast, the background of a castle in the cloudy blue skies creates a refreshing sensation, it symbolises the world we as explorers must aim for. This being the true image of reality and the necessity of having a positive outlook towards life, seeing things from the bright side. It shows how the process of being optimistic throughout life's hardship to be complex and this is again reinforced in the painting, through the amount of space taken up by the dark world. The chance of escaping such realms may be slim but there is hope as the geometrical shapes resemble navigational tools able to guide us to the door that stands open. By juxtaposing mythology and artificiality against realism, it helps to develop the power of the imagination, allowing responders to transcend the boundaries of the physical. Vector lines in the painting also lead the responders to look beyond the square painting into the unending universe. This intellectual voyage also evokes a mood of silent reflection, making changes to our values. Although, art may be silent yet able to create such an enigmatic atmosphere, it does however have the power to inspire through speculation and so suspends us from the real world and brings us into a world of pure imagination where we can develop our ability to conceive the world from a new perspective.
‘Ode on a Grecian Urn' likewise is able to entice the persona into a surreal landscape, indulging in the imagined world of an old Greek vase. It is an object in the physical world that is able to give rise to sensations and reflections. The persona speculates the world of art, as he instigates the imaginative journey, questioning it: “what leaf-fringed legend haunts about they shape? What men or gods are these?” On the urn, life and existence is frozen and suspended in time, no movement or change can be made. The urn's immunity to time means that what is desired will be kept but it also means there will never be anything more. But it is paradoxical that the urn which is silent, is able to tell tales “more sweetly than our rime”? This also shows the relationship between art and life, and how the persona has become more emotionally involved with the figures. The persona idealises a life that is suspended in time and the idea of being fixed for eternity on the urn. This proves the persona's ability to imagine and bring individual friezes to life. It also shows the potential of the mind being of infinite expanse without any boundaries, transporting oneself to their ideal life. And by transporting oneself into another world it illustrates the powers of art, having such great capacities able to stir the imagination, portraying more than there is and communicating beyond the senses. Mental stimulation and surreal speculative journey leads to new insights beyond the physical and achieving a greater sense of adventure, escaping the dull facets of life. Claiming the urn's life to be more preferable than real life is ironic, but it does correspond to the idea of the imaginative journey being more potent than the physical and therefore art being superior to life. Just like humans after a journey, learning and changing from the experiences. The persona in this case, has come to realise the Grecian Urn as no ordinary object but an object of beauty. This journey has lead to a greater understanding and appreciation of reality, as the persona displays a new essence for art and that life means an unending search for beauty.
In conclusion, the ideas and techniques within ‘The Tempest', ‘Endless Voyage' and ‘Ode on the Grecian Urn' all demonstrate the requirements of speculation and reflection in imaginative journeys in order to achieve self-transformation. Although all three texts do have an end to a journey, it is the journey that matters and will be poignant to the individual.