The Tempest Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What is the meaning of the masque and anti-masque in Shakespeare's play The Tempest?

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A Renaissance masque was a spectacle performed at court or at the manor of a member of the aristocracy with the purpose of glorifying a particular member of court or a particular aristocrat. In Jacobean times, a masque was an interactive form of elaborate entertainment for the aristocrats. In his plays, Shakespeare often incorporates masques because they were something that everyone—noblemen and commoners alike—were familiar with. It is also worth noting that it was Ben Jonson, in the seventeenth century, who developed the masque and then the anti-masque into a literary form:

While many masques had tended to move in one of two directions, either "wholly literary and dramatic or wholly choreographic and theatrical," Jonson aimed to unify the...

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