The Tempest AO5 critics

Strachey At the time this play was written Shakespeare was ‘bored with people, bored with real life, bored with drama, bored in fact with everything except poetry and poetical dreams’
Lawrence Bowling ‘It is one of Shakespeare’s most significant commentaries upon the conduct of real human beings and practical government in a modern civilized state.’
Rex Gibson ‘Shakespeare presents a Eurocentric view of colonisation in The Tempest’
Diana Devlin ‘Shakespeare depicts, with almost prophetic insight, the history of the white man’s attitude to indigenous populations’
Hiewon Shin ‘Shakespeare knew that `[The New World] would become a land of brutally oppressed servants or land of hopeful youngsters empowered by radial parenting’
William Tydeman ‘The narration being firmly in the hands of the empire-builder, we are apt to lose sight of such arguments as support Caliban’s contention’
Alden Vaughan ‘Colonialism is embedded in the language of the play’
Richard Adams ‘A play in which order and authority are not fixed absolutely, but shift with time and place’
Bernard Knox ‘The Tempest [is] a Utopia which Shakespeare created from himself’
Loughrey and Taylor ‘Mathematical precision’
Vaughan and Vaughan ‘Naggingly unfinished’
Samuel Pepys ‘Full of so good variety, that I cannot be more pleased almost in a comedy.’
Dover Wilson remarks that Shakespeare’s first scenes are often symbolic of the rest of the play but that in The Tempest the first scene ‘serves as a contrast, not as an initiation.’
Ashley Riches ‘Descent from control and an accession to humanity’
Samuel Taylor Coleridge ‘a purely romantic drama’
Nicholas Rowe ‘It seems to me as perfect’ (1709)
Peter Holland ‘(Shakespeare) seeks to examine human behaviour in a world that proves, with increasingly, dizzying paradoxicality to be both real and unreal.’
William Tydeman ‘The action of the piece is in one sense Prospero’s dream of achieving his deepest desires’
Liz Dollimore ‘The best of Shakespearean humour is undercut with sadness”
Ruth Nevo ‘A journey into a psychic interior’
Christopher Hardman ‘The real world is never forgotten’
Lovell ‘The whole play, indeed, is a succession of illusions’
Nevill Coghill ‘It resembles the story of Adam and Eve’
Vaughan and Vaughan ‘The play is uniquely adaptable’ ‘endlessly malleable’
Nigel Smith ‘In some senses we never leave Italy’
Vaughan and Vaughan ‘The island setting provides artists and writers with an opportunity to comment on human relations without reality’s constraints.’
Murray Says the island ‘is what would be if humanity, the best in men, controlled the life in man’.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge ‘Caliban is … a noble being.’ Shakespeare ‘has raised him above contempt’
John Dryer ‘His Person is monstrous, and he is the product of unnatural lust’ His language is hobgoblin’ ‘friendly but trouble.’
Lawrence Bowling ‘Instead of accepting this half-beast as the subhuman that he is, Prospero attempts to elevate Caliban to the level of human beings’
Daniel Wilson ‘The missing link.’ (Caliban, impact of Darwin’s evolutionary theories meant mid-19th century versions of plan made Caliban out to be the missing link between man and ape or aquatic animal)
Loughrey and Taylor ‘He is a slave to his own ungoverned appetites’ (Caliban)
George Lamming ‘Caliban is his convert, colonised by language and excluded by language’
Jonathan Goldberg ‘Prospero has given Caliban Language, and with is an unstated history of consequences, an unknown history of future intentions.’
Frank Kermode ‘He exists at the simplest level of sensual pain and pleasure’
Frank Kermode ‘He hears music with pleasure, as music can appeal to the beast who lacks reason’
Diana Devlin ‘Caliban’s receptiveness to [music] expressed a spirituality which raises him about base humanity’
Sidney Lee ‘A creature stumbling over the first stepping stones which lead from savagery to civilisation.’
Ben Gilbertson ‘Caliban was dependent on Prospero on love as well as education’
Diana Devlin ‘The maligning of his character comes mainly from Prospero’
Rex Gibson ‘Caliban is brutish and evil by nature’
Diana Devlin ‘He views himself as a man’
Diana Devlin ‘He symbolises the natives of America, and of other parts of the world colonised by Europeans’
Diana Devlin ‘The Island brings out the best in Caliban’
Diana Devlin ‘Forced to remain in a world he has now learnt to recognise as lonely and loveless’
Robert Wilson ‘[Prospero] is the controller, the manipulator’
Robert Wilson ‘Schoolmasterly’
Robert Wilson ‘He has assumed the providential role of God’
William Tydeman ‘Tetchy and demanding’
Vaughan and Vaughan ‘He is clearly the play’s central character’
Vaughan and Vaughan ‘One’s reaction to Prospero almost inevitably determines one’s response to the entire play’
Stephen Siddal ‘The Tempest is also an account of Prospero as Everyman.’
Nigel Smith ‘Prospero’s art is just such a Machiavellian achievement, even though it is in the form of a magical act.’
Eckhard Auberlen ‘Prospero firmly controls the outer events, but has to see the limits of his power in bringing about a moral regeneration on other and himself’
William Tydeman ‘The Tempest sometimes appears to offer us Prospero’s vision of the universe not as it is but as he would have it to be.’
Knight ‘Prospero who controls the comprehensive Shakespearian world reflects Shakespeare himself’
George Lamming ‘An old man in whom envy and revenge are equally matched’
Nicholas Hytner ‘A demented stage manager on a theatrical island suspended between smouldering rage at his usurpation and unbridled glee at his alternative ethereal power.’
Frank Kermode ‘His Art is here the disciple exercise of virtuous knowledge, a ‘translation of merit into power”
Jonathan Bate ‘Sees himself as the white magician to Sycorax’s black magic’
Frank Kermode ‘Prospero, like Adam, fell from his kingdom by an inordinate thirst for knowledge’
Christopher Hardman ‘Prospero’s political success is limited, for the dynastic marriage so carefully arranged will eventually result in Naples absorbing Milan, merely taking a stage further what Antonio’s homage to Alonso has already begun’
William Tydeman ‘Shakespeare’s hero stands forth at the start of the play as the archetypal story-teller’
Miller ‘It is difficult for the modern audience to feel sympathy for Prospero’
Sofia M Valdivieso ‘Miranda’s main role is to obey her father’
Mike Brett ‘Miranda’s apparent freedom is entirely illusory’
Charles Moseley ‘The play… concerns itself with education’ (Miranda must learn a wisdom and discrimination that others learn with experience, Prospero teaches the couple of the importance of self-rule)
Charles Moseley ‘[Masques are] a means of saying the unsayable’
Alice Hall Petry ‘A latent but strong sexuality lurking in Miranda’s psyche’
Alice Hall Petry ‘Miranda does not know how to deal with civilised humans any more than Caliban does’
Ben Gilbertson ‘Like Caliban, Miranda has been disconnected from human society’
Anna Jameson ‘So perfectly unsophisticated, so delicately refined, that she is all but ethereal.’
Anna Jameson ‘All who behold her are struck by wonder.’
William Tydeman ‘The recalcitrant spirit cannot be permanently chained down’
Walton Beacham ‘Only request is for freedom’
Palfrey ‘Ariel symbolises the traditions from worlds to physicality as s/he is the physical embodiment of words and his power to become all things’
Hilda Dolittle ‘The figure of the exiled, alienated woman’ (Claribel)
Palfrey ‘Prose may empower the characters, as they are not conformed to iambic pentameter’
Roger Poole ‘It is only through suffering and a death of the old ways that rebirth is experienced’
Roger Poole ‘Musical harmony unites with the concept of divine harmony’
Roger Poole ‘So much of the music emerges as a spiritual presence’
Peter Reynolds ‘Shakespeare’s audience… would primarily have enjoyed the storm scene that opens the play for what to contributed to the overall meaning of the play as a whole.’
Charles Moseley ‘Perfection and stability is achieved through marriage, the balancing of masculine and feminine in a new whole’
Caroline Spurgeon ‘The play is an absolute symphony of sound’
Roger Poole ‘In them, civilisation has only case-hardened their selfishness’ (Antonio and Sebastian)
Kermode Magic is ‘the disciplined exchange of virtuous knowledge’
Smith ‘(The Epilogue) is intended to dissolve the illusions and the change from iambic pentameter’
Dowder ‘This is nothing of ‘profound significance’ in the epilogue’
David Lindley ‘A play about the illusion of freedom’
Taylor Sharpe ‘Every character is driven by an internal cry for freedom’
Alice Hall Petry ‘Both ‘natural’ knowledge and ‘book’ knowledge are inadequate for dealing with the world of human interrelationships.’
Richard Moulton ‘The gift of civilisation turned into a curse’
Davedent and Dryden 1667 adaptation, during Restoration era, present monarchy as the natural form of government and Stephano proclaims ‘We will have no civil war during our reign’
Thomas Shadwell 1674 adaptation has the setting divide – the ‘beautiful part of the Island’ is where Prospero lives, and the ‘wilder part of the Island’ is where Caliban and the visitors appear (emphasises the play’s careful distinctions between courtly and lower class, civility and uncivil)
In 19th Century many of Miranda’s most outspoken lines were assigned to Prospero for decorum William Tydeman – ‘the emendation deprives us of the touching image of the precocious child teaching the inarticulate native’
Sam Mendes 1993 adaptation (production), Ariel spits at Prospero after he is granted freedom
Peter Greenaway 1991 adaptation (film – ‘Prospero’s books’), The Tempest is Prospero’s vision and creation, he writes the play and voices the lines of characters as he imagines them. Ariel usurps Prospero’s writing tables and takes over the script at the end of the play
Julie Taymor 2010 adaptation (film), Prospero becomes Prospera the daughter of the Duke of Milan, who is accused of killing her father with witchcraft, and is played by Helen Mirren. Caliban is played by a black man. Monica Krysa – ‘a comment on women’s empowerment’
2013 Globe Theatre Production Miranda is quite sarcastic and sardonic, her ‘obedience’ is played as a joke – representation of women changed over time

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