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Mistaken Identity Essay Papers

Mistaken Identity Essay

I used to serve tables and one particular table will forever haunt me. After a normal meal, an older gentleman gave me his credit card to pay for his meal. The name on the card was none other than Gordie Howe. I was star struck to say the least. When I approached him, I immediately asked for his autograph on my grandparent’s fiftieth anniversary card. He looked the part and acted the part as well. After giving the card to my grandparents as a gift, I then had it appraised. I was happy to find out an authentic Gordie Howe autograph is worth anywhere from $300 to thousands, pending on the autograph. I was unhappy to find out that the autograph I obtained was not an autograph from Gordie Howe, the famous hockey legend, but the autograph was from someone who happened to look, act, and have the same name as the hockey legend. I never told my grandparents of the worthlessness of the autograph to this day. Mistaken identity can happen anywhere. But when it is in a story or a play, the characters have no control over who they are. The characters with mistaken identity in plays such as “Oedipus the King” and “The Brothers Menaechmus” had very different outcomes. In the following I am first going to define what mistaken identity is, show how mistaken identity helps the reader see that characters have no control over their fate, and show that through mistaken identity characters lives change quickly. Through these three features, I will show that mistaken identity helps make a story interesting to the reader.
First, let us define mistaken identity. To do that, one must define identity of a character, before one can understand what mistaken identity truly is. Character identity in a play is much like identity of any individual today. Identity has many definitions. Personal psychological identity is who, what, and where a person is at that time according to them. It is how the characters perceive him. For instance, in the play Oedipus the King, Oedipus saw himself as a great Greek leader that happened to be the son of Polypus (Worthen 30-31). And in the play The Brothers Menaechmus, Menaechmus 1 saw himself as a rich and crafty individual that could do whatever he pleased and get away with it. And Menaechmus 2 saw himself as a great commander in search of his long lost twin brother. All of these characters knew truly who they were personally. Another form of identity is social identity. This identity is how others perceive the character, such as society, or a reader. In The Brothers Menaechmus, Plautus wants the reader to see that Menaechmus 1 is deceitful and charismatic to his readers. Menaechmus 2 is more of a revered in individual. Both kinds of identity can lead to mistaken identity. Mistaken identity is finding out the person or character is not who they look like or not what they might have thought they were. Plautus clearly showed throughout the play, The Brothers Menaechmus, that both Menaechmus 1 and 2 looked...

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Often without realizing it people judge other people by how they look and not who they are. In the play The Tempest by William Shakespeare many of the characters poorly judged one another due to their appearance. Miranda's first sighting of Ferdinand, Caliban's mistaken identity as a monster, and Prospero's pretending Miranda is marrying for love, and pretending he doesnt want the marriage are all examples of how people are manipulated by their perceptions. Often when people are attracted to the opposite sex a lot of it has to do with first impressions, which ultimately leads their appearance. When Miranda first spies Ferdinand her initial reaction was that he was the love of her life.

Theres nothing ill can dwell in such a temple: If the ill spirit have so fair a house, Good things will strive to dwell with. (1, ii, 457) Miranda assumes that Ferdinand is the one, love of her life, which she expresses, in the above quote. She believes that there is nothing wrong with him and he is the ideal person for her. Throughout the play Miranda never actually gets the chance to know him, all she was basing it on is his looks, and that is the third person she had actually seen since she had been on the island. Considering Ferdinand is Prince, if Miranda married him they would all be able to go home which resulted as another motive other than his looks for the marriage. Although nothing bad happened between the two of them it was obvious that the relationship was based purely on each others appearance of one another. Miranda was manipulated by her own perception of Ferdinand into getting married.

Caliban's appearance is one that most would think is un ordinary, which has resulted in his mistaken identity of being a monster. While Caliban was wondering around the island cursing Prospero and blaming him for all the hardship he suffers he sees Trinculo, believing that he is one of Prospero's spirits, he throws himself to the ground hoping he will be unnoticed. However Trinculo sees him and is unsure of what he sees at first. What have we here? A man or a fish? Dead or alive?

A fish: he smells like a fish; a very ancient and fish-like smell; a kind of, not of the newest, poor-John. A strange fish! Were I in England now, as once I was, and had but this fish painted, not a holiday fool there but would give a piece of sliver: there would this monster make a man: any strange beast there makes a man: when they will lay out then to see a deal Indian. Legged like a man! And his fins like arms! (2, ii, 24) Trinculo was interested in knowing how much money he could make if he brought such a creature like Caliban back to Naples. Later on he realizes that Caliban is no such creature but a human being like himself.

Just as Miranda perceived Ferdinand to be her ideal man, Trinculo mistook Caliban as a monster from his external appearance. Of all the characters in the play, Prospero is the best at hiding his ultimatums. When Miranda and Ferdinand agree to become husband and wife, Prospero expresses his delight in their union. So glad of this as they I cannot be who are surprised withal; but my rejoicing at nothing can be more. Ill to my book; for yet, ere supper-time, must I perform much business appertaining. (3, i, 91) Although he expresses his feelings of delight, Prospero is pretending Miranda is marrying for love, and pretending he doesnt want the marriage. By making Ferdinand chop wood to prove his love for Miranda, Prospero furthers the act of his reluctance of their marriage.

Once again Prospero uses the theme of appearance vs. reality in that he appears reluctant of their marriage but it is always what he wanted. Peoples perceptions are manipulated by their external appearances throughout the play The Tempest. Miranda's first sighting of Ferdinand was based fully on his appearance and they decided to get married knowing nothing about each other, Caliban was continuously mistaken for a monster which resulted in misperceptions of who he truly is. Prospero pretending Miranda is marrying for love, and pretending he doesnt want the marriage is a deception of his true feelings towards the situation. Their marriage will get him what he always wanted which is back home.

The characters in The Tempest should have paid more attention to who each other was not based on their external appearance. Sometimes it pays off not to judge someone by their appearance and pay closer attention to the qualities that matter.


Free research essays on topics related to: external appearance, prospero, ferdinand, mistaken identity, miranda

Research essay sample on Mistaken Identity External Appearance

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