‘The Tempest’ different productions/critical opinions

“Une Tempête” (1969) by Aimé Césaire This post-colonial interpretation of the play looked at different actions taken by the oppressed against their repressors (specifically looking at the treatment of African Americans). Caliban responds through violence, like Malcolm X, and Ariel uses more peaceful methods, like Martin Luther King.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Prospero and Shakespeare are the same and the play is an interrogation of his own “art” Prospero is “the very Shakespeare, as it were, of ‘The Tempest'”
Catherine Duncan Jones on Caliban’s ‘rape’ of Miranda It was his primitive instinct to populate the island, Prospero is responsible for not being aware of this risk
Evangeline Maria O’Connor on Ariel and his “moods” – ability for empathy and compassion “like the atmosphere [Ariel] reflects human emotions without feeling them”
Sam Mendes The Tempest is about “moral and social order in human society”
James McDonald “it’s a tempest of the mind”
Sam Mendes’ 1993 production of the Tempest “[saw] Prospero as a director and his subjects as actors”
Sam Mendes’ 1993 production of the Tempest “the island was a state of mind”
Jonathan Miller’s 1970 production He showed Caliban and Ariel to be two versions of the same thing, both enslaved natives that respond differently to their master. Both west indian actors, the play closes with an image of Ariel pointing Prospero’s broken staff at Caliban (mankind’s inherent desire to rule, lust for power)
Simon Russell Beale’s interpretation of Ariel He was a remarkably cold and restrained Ariel
Peter Brook “it’s too easy to slap simplistic politics onto Shakespeare” (responding to only reading the play as a study of imperialism and colonial history)
Peter Brook on Stephano and Trinculo “Stephano, Trinculo and the plot to murder Prospero are vital parts of the dark underworld of the play”
Jan Kott Stephano and Trinculo are a distorted version of the central plot of the play – they parody it adding to the comedy. (also explore the master-servant relationship and the meaning of freedom)
Sam Mendes on the ending of the play The play has an unresolved and ambivalent ending on all fronts
Cicily Berry “Caliban is ‘the other’ and Prospero has power over him through language”
Trevor R Griffiths “Caliban is lost without the civilising influence exerted on him by Prospero”
Greenblatt on the Bishop of Avila “Language is the perfect instrument of empire”
Bartolome de Las Casas “there is no man or race not considered barbarous with respect to some other man or race”
Captain John Smith – Virginia colony “had the savages not fed us, we directly had starved”
Robert Wilson Prospero “is the controller, the manipulator”
McFarland “The Machiavellians see nothing of reality”
Jessie Buckley’s interpretation of Miranda is the Globe’s 2013 production A strong and independent woman, unlike other productions which have seen Miranda as subservient and submissive.
Jonathan Bate Oppositions create “grey areas of moral complexity”
Jonathan Bate “The Tempest conjures up the spirit of European colonialism”
Octave Mannoni ‘The Psychology of Colonisation’ (1950) “The Prospero and Caliban complex” – the relationship between the coloniser and the colonised.
The marriage of Elizabeth Stuart to Frederick of Bohemia The masque, giant spectacle, that would have been performed at the wedding (like the one in the Tempest which promotes purity and fidelity, rebirth etc.)
Neil Bowen on Prospero’s lesson in leadership “as the increasingly Christian language indicates, he gives up his role of Magus and dedicates himself to more conscientious government”
Mike Brett on Miranda “Miranda’s apparent freedom is entirely illusory”
Beerbohm Tree interpretation of Caliban (1904) Took a much more sympathetic approach to Caliban, showing him to be a figure of great sorrow
John Dee (1572) Coined the phrase “the British empire”
Mike Brett “[Sycorax] represents an unconventional woman who threatens the stability of a patriarchal society”
Ben Johnson (1608) Invented the ‘anti masque’ in which grotesque figues (‘antics’) danced around prior to the peace and harmony of the masque.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge on how we read ‘The Tempest’ as a play of illusion. “In this play Shakespeare did not appeal to any sensuous impression of time and place but to the imagination”
‘Caliban Upon Setebos’ Robert Browning (1864) Caliban become the subject of much interest among artists, he is complicated and misunderstood.
Alice Mottala’s nudist production of ‘The Tempest’ (2016) The play deals with “confinement versus freedom”, from this feminist production’s point of view, their aim is to liberate the human body, particularly women’s bodies.
Ron Daniel’s psychoanalytic production of ‘The Tempest’ (1982) This production was very much concerned with the internal struggle of emotions, motives and desires. Prospero was not fully in control of his own character. Ariel and Caliban represent different aspects of his psyche. However “neither was regarded as wholly successful”
Enlightenment vs Romanticism (Caliban) The Enlightenment period held that really human progress was achieved through the study of reason, therefore audience’s during this period would have admired Prospero’s attempt to ‘civilise’. However, Romantic thinkers saws Caliban’s status as a ‘natural man’ as something far more positive – he is at one with the natural world, his meaner qualities are a product of his colonisation.
Coleridge (Caliban) “The character of Caliban is wonderfully conceived: he is a sort of creature of the Earth”
Kipling’s poem ‘The White Man’s Burden’ (1899) This expressed some people’s views towards the natives of a colonised country. That it is the Europeans’ duty to civilise the ‘uncivilised’ inhabitants of an invaded land. A Victorian production of the play would have shown a noble and upright Prospero next to a stubborn and belligerent Caliban.
‘Green World’ Northrup Frye Shakespeare plays show either a utopian vision of society or a harsh reality – nature is ideal and utopian
Anne Barton “a surprising amount of The Tempest depends on the suppressed and the unspoken”

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