“The Tempest” and Shakespeare

–HistoryWhen was “The Tempest” probably written? –“The Tempest” was probably written in the later part of 1610 or 1611; it was acted before King James on Nov. 1, 1611.
–HistoryWhat does the plot of the play appear to be? –The plot of the play appears to be wholly Shakespeare’s invention; he used no direct historical sources.
–HistoryWhat happened in May 1609? –In May 1609, nine ships carrying 500 colonists set sail from England to reinforce the settlers at the colony of Jamestown in the New World, in what is now Virginia. –In a storm, the ships were driven to the Bermudas, where a number of the travelers were stranded for nearly a year. –Shakespeare almost certainly knew of the controversy surrounding the ownership of Virginia.
–HistoryWhat did some argue? –Some argued that the natives settled in Virgina owned the land, and that European settlers had no right to take it from them.
–HistoryWhat does “The Tempest” give? –The Tempest gives both sides of the controversy. Shakespeare makes Caliban’s claim to the island plausible, but also shows him as depraved; and the “colonists” have among them good men along with drunkards and murderers.
–ThemesWhat does “The Tempest” address? –The Tempest addresses all of the usual themes found in Shakesperian comedies: 1. guilt and repentance; 2. the finding of the lost; forgiveness; 3. the renewal of the world; 4. and the benevolence of unseen powers.5. ALSO: characters in the play have symbolic value, and that many of their actions are related to the idea of control.
–ThemesWhat does “The Tempest” concern itself with? –Those human achievements that result from control of the imagination, producing works of art which have at their strongest a power of transfiguration, a fresh revelation of the wonder of creation.–The power of imagination is emphasized by its relationship to memory
–ThemesWhat does Shakespeare return to? –Shakespeare returns to illusion vs. reality. He is performing a balancing act of opposites, and he uses the spectacle and the illusions to heighten the tensions between them–The romance element of the play, as a whole, is countered by the moral seriousness of the play. –There is a balancing of desire against virtue, lust against love, and discipline against passion–in all things, not just for the lovers
–CharacterProspero –Magical, wonderful ruler of all.–He has been exiled on the island with his daughter, Miranda–He is partly dependent on Fortune, and partly master of it–He is human, but has superhuman powers and is the “controlling agent” of the play. He creates a sense of mystery and awe.
–CharacterMiranda –Prospero’s young, beautiful naïve daughter–She is the perfect audience for her father: Open Minded, willing to be impressed, full of wonder.–She is eager to believe in all that she meets.–Her innocence is full of pathos — she is not as beautiful as she appears.–Her innocence, but mature wisdom are both part of the truth and create a harmony that doubles the effect of each.
–CharacterCaliban –He is the symbol of all that is wrong with Colonialism–Used as a tool to show contrasts:1. Childish, yet gruesome2. Emotional, yet aloof and outcast3. Savage yet traditional4. He is measured for art and civilization5. Also a stark contrast from Ferdinand, who swears he will not let lust overcome his honor.
–Shakespeare’s MethodWhat does Shakespeare balance? –He balances comic and serious and creates analogies which are unified through similar ideas 1. “Delicate” used for Ariel, weather and air2. “Earthy” for Caliban3. Confusion between waking and sleep4. The Play moves from storm to calm; through punishments and restorations of faith5. But the overriding metaphor is CHANGE
–ChangeWhat is changed or transformed? –All is changed or transformed.1. Ariel speaks of it and has physical transformation2. The maturity and loss of innocence that is shown through Miranda3. Caliban, reveals this thread by the fact that he CAN’T change, yet words like “dissolve”, “fade” and “blend” are common.4. Shakespeare uses all of this transition of things side by side to show with simpler feeling that man’s life is an illusion or a dream….
–Final ThoughtsWhat is Prospero often seen identified as? –Prospero is often seen identified as Shakespeare as1. A harassed overworked person of import2. One who is constantly aware of how much “time” is left 3. A man who sees that all that he thought was real and good can change with Fate’s whim
–Final ThoughtsWhat does the play asks us to consider? –The play asks us to consider what we know to be true about our lives, through character, through love and lust, through moral exploration and through the politics of change.
–Post-Colonial Theory and “The Tempest”What happened during the 15th Century? –During the 15th Century until the 19th Century (1400s-1800s) Europe began its first colonial wave. –The earth was being “discovered” and there were myths about the “cannibals” of the Caribbean, and distant utopias.
Post-Colonial Theory and “The Tempest”–With Caliban, what may Shakespeare be offering? –With Caliban, Shakespeare may be offering an in-depth discussion into the morality of colonialism. –Caliban is also shown as one of the most natural characters in the play, being very much in touch with the natural world.
–Post-Colonial Theory and “The Tempest”What did this new way of looking at the text explore? –This new way of looking at the text explored the effect of the colonizer (Prospero) on the colonized (Ariel and Caliban)
–Post-Colonial Theory and “The Tempest”What is Ariel generally viewed as? –Ariel is generally viewed by scholars as the good servant, in comparison with the conniving Caliban–a view which Shakespeare’s audience may well have shared.
–Post-Colonial Theory and “The Tempest”Aspects of colonialism: –Europeans’ appropriation of and exploitation of foreign territories. –Europeans’ subordination of indigenous populations (such as the different treatment of Caliban and Ariel). –Europeans’ claims that they are colonizing to bring Christianity and civilization (Prospero’s taking credit for the fact that he has taught Caliban how to speak and the fact that he has liberated Ariel)
–Post-Colonial Theory and “The Tempest”What happens to Caliban? –Caliban has been enslaved, as was the case of native people being “colonized” by conquering nations. –He does not realize that his own choice of leader could be just as destructive.
–Post-Colonial Theory and “The Tempest”What is happening in post-colonial Africa? –Post-colonial Africa is dealing with this still, having ousted nations of Europe only to find themselves in civil war…. Comfort exceeds freedom.
–Colonizing CalibanHow does Caliban seem? –Caliban seems to others more monster than man–He is seen this way to show the encounter between an almost completely isolated, “primitive” culture and a foreign, “civilized” one.
–The Feminist CritiqueWhat has “The Tempest” not attracted? –Because of the small role women play in comparison to other Shakespeare plays, “The Tempest” has not attracted much feminist criticism.
–The Feminist CritiqueWhat has been argued? –It has been argued that Miranda is typical of women in a colonial atmosphere, has accepted the patriarchal order.–The less prominent women mentioned in the play are subordinated as well, as they are only described through the men of the play.
–The Feminist CritiqueHow is Miranda’s position in the play unique? –Miranda’s position in the play is unique in that she is central, despite showing “old-fashioned” and stereotypical female qualities.
–The Feminist CritiqueWhat is Miranda reminded of? –Not only is she used as a physical form, but is also reminded of her “place”.–Prospero actually uses her as a prize to attain his goal of vengeance. He attempts to control her fate and he objectifies sexual purpose.
–The Feminist CritiqueWhat do we see through Miranda? –Through her, we see society’s view that women are physical/sexual tools. Shakespeare is making commentary with this.
–The Feminist CritiqueYet, what is Miranda like? –Yet, she is powerful:1. Teaches Caliban2. Refuses Caliban and his advances3. Her actions, show the desire to end oppression and exploitation as she understands these things are inherently wrong.4. Will impact the plot line with her relationship and choices as connected to Ferdinand.
–Gonzalo’s Idea of GovernanceWhat is Gonzalo’s fantasy? –Gonzalo’s fantasy about the plantation he would like to build on the island is a remarkable poetic evocation of a utopian society–This vision indicates something of Gonzalo’s own innocence.–Gonzalo would do away with the very master-servant motif that lies at the heart of “The Tempest”.
–Stephano’s Idea of GovernanceWhat kind of island does Stephano say it would be if he ruled it? –“I will kill this man [Prospero]. His daughter and I will be King and Queen . . . and Trinculo and thyself [Caliban] shall be viceroys” (III.ii.101-103)–Stephano wants to employ a totalitarian type of regime. This contrasts significantly with Gonazalo’s vision.
–Stephano’s Idea of GovernanceTotalitarian where an individual dictator monopolises political power and controls every element of society.
–Intertextual ThemeIn this play there are themes of: 1. love at first sight, 2. magic as a controlling device, 3. revenge, usurpation & 4. ambition.–Shakespearean plays are mainly concerned with the clash between a notable individual and his / her society
–Intertextual ThemeWhat contrasts are there in “The Tempest”? –Order vs. Disorder (primarily in character)–Chaos vs. Calm (primarily in plot)–Shakespeare uses ‘the supernatural’ to reveal the inner desires and / or fears of his characters
–“Three Themes in ‘The Tempest'”First theme –The theme of time haunts the play.–Events disturb time’s flow, extending or compressing it.–At the end, a proper time releases them from the island.
–“Three Themes in ‘The Tempest'”Second theme –Theme of nature–The play exists within an ordered nature in which transformations occur
–“Three Themes in ‘The Tempest'”Third theme –Theme explores illusion–Prospero’s reality is illusion, a world of dreaming and magic–This illusion is Prospero’s art, and art is the agent that transforms the characters–When the magic is over, Prospero asks to be released
–“Shakespeare’s Mastery Is Evident in the Last Plays”What does Edward Dowden note? –Prospero in “The Tempest” best exemplifies the characteristics his play-wright creator has achieved.1. These include inner harmony, mastery over intellect and emotions, sensitivity to wrong and commitment to justice, and a wise distance from the joys and sorrows of the world.
–“Shakespeare’s Mastery Is Evident in the Last Plays”What do both character and creator know? –Both character and creator know that freedom comes from service and art from discipline made light by imagination.

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