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Lecture 34

ENGLISH 3K06 Lecture 34: English 3K06 - Lectures 34-38 - The Tempest

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Melinda Gough

Tuesday March 3 • Some Major Themes o Authority and Mastery ▪ Who deserves to rule whom? Does self-mastery legitimize one’s right to rule over others who arguably cannot master themselves? What are the qualities of a just and moral master? o Knowledge versus Innocence ▪ What use is knowledge/learning? Is it better to know about the evil streaks in human nature or is it best to stay ignorant and innocent of them? o Nature versus Art ▪ Where does magic come from? Do illusions provide lasting power? Is the power one gets through artfully manipulating and deceiving others morally justified? • Early Performance History o Earliest performance of The Tempest = November 1, 1611 at the court of King James I 
 o Two years later: performed again for wedding festivities of James’s daughter to a foreign prince 
 o Also performed commercially, at the Blackfriars and the Globe theatres 
 o Connections to Prospero marrying off his daughter o Play that was performed privately (had to be invited) and commercially o Plays are so popular that in the winter they don’t have to leave London (as they were doing before like the Queen’s Men) • Blackfriars Theatre o Monastery converted into a theatre in 1576 o Indoor theatre o Lighting – candle trimming – act breaks o Seats for audience (no standing) o King’s Men get lease to the Blackfriars in 1608 o Perform inside during the winter, and outside at the Globe during the summer • Blackfriars Audience Expectations o Affluent, Courtier Audience ▪ Paid minimum sixpence for a nosebleed seat compared to one pence for Globe yard ▪ Played a premium to be close to the actors (even onstage with them) o Expected Music ▪ This theatre was renowned for its musicians o Expected A Calm, Harmonious Play ▪ No groundling noise or outside noise to compete with the actors ▪ The storm in Act 1 would have defied expectations (see Gurr essay in NCE) • Genre o Points of similarity between the plot of The Tempest and the plots of other plays we’ve read this year? o The storm in King Lear o King Lear marrying off his daughter (proper royal match) o No male heir in either King Lear or Tempest o Merchant of Venice – Shylock and Jessica o Richard III – Machiavellian scheming – the way they obtained power o Usurper figure in Hamlet • The Tempest’s Genre o A Comedy
 ▪ Ending restores social order through marriage, reconciliation, and redemption o Also a Romance ▪ Supernatural elements ▪ Noble characters
 ▪ Family reunion/reconciliation, happy ending ▪ Late in Shakespeare’s career ▪ Chivalric romances – with a knight who serves a lady, goes on a mission • Shakespearean Romances: AKA Tragicomedies o Tragicomedy acknowledges evil and human suffering but enables characters to overcome it o Tragicomedy avoids disaster by offering the hero and others the chance to redeem themselves and to change • Questions To Keep In Mind o How is tragedy averted in The Tempest? o In what ways can we consider Prospero to be a tragicomic hero? o At the end of the play, Prospero will renounce magic, and the island, and return to Milan. What is that nature and source of Prospero’s power leading up to this point? Friday March 6 • Prospero as Tragicomic Hero o At the end of the play, Prospero will renounce magic, and the island, and return to Milan o What is the nature and source of Prospero’s power leading up to this point? o Keep this transformation in mind o On the one hand he is disempowered (usurped), but also he has been saved by nature/power/magic o Ariel and Caliban are two parts of Prospero’s power (devil and angel) o Tuesday: Ariel • (Theatrical) Illusion? o Through Ariel: Creates the banquet which disappears through a “quaint device” (3.3) 
 o Through Ariel also: creates the storm in Act 1 that seems deadly but harms no one 
 o He himself brings Ferdinand and Miranda together by pretending to hate Ferdinand (1.2 ff) o On one hand, it looks like his power is based solely on Ariel (for the illusions) o But in 1.2, he himself is not only the director figure over Ariel, but he is also a performer and actor in his own spectacle o Doesn’t solve the problem of Prospero’s power o Since two of these illusions are in fact carried out by Ariel, does Prospero’s power lie simply in the fact that he can make Ariel do his bidding?
Is Prospero’s power based on his ability to deceive and manipulate others? 
 • Storytelling? o Tells Miranda their story in Act 1 o Asks Ariel to tell him Sycorax’s history, but then tells the history himself o Tells Ariel his own story with Sycorax o History and the telling of history (narrative) as power? • Prospero and Sycorax – Similarities o Prospero ▪ Exiled with an infant ▪ Scholar/magician – Prospero in Milan was “rapt in secret studies” ▪ Master of Ariel and the island o Sycorax ▪ Exiled with an infant ▪ Prospero calls Sycorax a “damned witch” and a “blue-eyed hag” ▪ Shows that she too is a magician figure ▪ Master of Ariel and the island until her death o Raises theme/question about Prospero (Shakespeare’s play) and how they are engaged in historiography? o Drama providing multiple perspectives in the questioning of truth and how we come to truth o The play foregrounds history and the telling of history itself in relation to the use of illusion and magic o Prospero may be relying on both • Contrasts? o Prospero ▪ Male with female infant ▪ Different stigmas for gender – male magician (his age connotes power) ▪ He uses magic to bring two loves together ▪ Exiled from Milan ▪ Exiled because he neglected Milan’s government and his brother betrayed him ▪ Ariel – power over him using guilt and promise ▪ His magic is way more rooted in the verbal/psychological ▪ Christian approach o Sycorax ▪ Female with male infant ▪ Female witch – damned hag (means older woman – negative) ▪ She uses her magic for evil ▪ Exiled from Algiers ▪ Exiled for “mischiefs manifold and sorceries terrible” ▪ Ariel – has a physical entrapment over him (stuck in a tree) ▪ Her magic is way more rooted in the physical ▪ Seemingly dark/evil Pagan approach o What other contrasts/similarities are there? o Why does Shakespeare include Sycorax’s backstory? o Why does he have Prospero tell it? ▪ He is like Shakespeare in the play (see Epilogue) ▪ All knowing figure who does the story telling ▪ He controls the scene and the play as well as the events within the play ▪ Setting up a parallel/relationship – Sycorax was a foil to Prospero ▪ P’s control/power/deceptions/manipulations looks better when it is set against the figure who comes before him who is way worse ▪ Raises the question of who is settling on/controlling the island ▪ Gives history for S and Ariel and of the island itself • Where Is This Island? o Sycorax is exiled to the island from Algiers o Alonso’s fleet is sailing back to Naples from a wedding in Tunis o Prospero was exiled from Milan and landed on the island in a ship that was barely sea-worthy o What does the setting of our play mean for power • The Mediterranean? o The Mediterranean: primary location of classical epic poetry (and early modern epic – romance) o An obvious setting for a play about magic, spirits, monsters, and fiction-making o Story of Troy – gets blown to Carthage (modern day Tunisia) o Mediterranean and association with high story telling is at the heart of The Tempest o Obvious setting for a play with these magic themes • The Barbary Coast? o North Africa, on the Mediterranean coast 
 o Controlled in 1600s by the Ottoman empire (still a powerful threat to European Christendom) 
 o The islands between the Barbary Coast, Spain, and Italy frequently changed hands in the 16th century 
 o Prospero successfully “masters” the island (its resources, its natives, its spirits) 
 o He proves himself (and Europeans) to be ideal, masculine rulers (compared to the Algerian Sycorax) 
 o Setting of the play can connote meanings of mastery and power o Larger themes of colonial discourse o Leah Marcus’ essay – why is Sycorax a blue eyed hag – is she white? o Or does it mean something else – blue around the eyes meaning something racially negative? • Ireland? o See Barbara Fuchs’s essay in your NCE 
 o Fuchs reads Caliban’s cloak in 2.2 as an allusion to the Irish mantle 
 o In 1297, England demanded that Ireland “relinquish Irish dress” 
 o Mantle  symbol of colonial resistance/ “going native” 
 • 1956: Edmund Spenser o Writes about the cultural importance of cloaks, or mantles, to the Irish (as a symbol of their lack of civilization) o As they wandered and made war they “carried always with them [their mantle] as their house, their bed and their garment” (NCE 271) o Irish seem unsettled, unhoused, “uncivilized” • The West Indies/Americas? o The Bermudas: 1609 wreck of the Sea Venture off coast of Bermuda (Strachey as “source”) 
 o Recent criticism: this ‘Americanist’ emphasis on play’s connections with ‘Atlantic exploration and colonization’ has made the play more relevant for 20th century readers (colonialism), but has obscured relevance of Mediterranean setting 
 • Encountering “The Other” in The Tempest 2.2 o What misapprehensions does each party have about the other? o What thematic statement does this scene make that ties into the broader themes of the play? o Shows that Caliban is living in fear and is often punished o Suggests that Caliban can be an empathetic figure – even though we know about what he tried to do with Miranda o T’s joke about the foreigner in London – making a criticism about all of the foreigners in London o Status of the alien or foreigner • What happens when we keep all of these settings/contexts in mind? o Reading of 2.2 o Trinculo and Stephano assume when they see Caliban that they are seeing an Indian/Native American o Indians/Native Americans: exotic “others” for early modern English people • 2.2 o Trinculo jokes that were he in England the English would pay dearly to see Caliban, the “dead Indian” (24-32) o Stephano: “Have we devils here? Do you put tricks upon’s with savages and men of Ind?” (55-56) o In 2.2, the clowns assume that because Caliban has a freakish, fish-like, four- legged appearance he is a creature of the Old/New World (of the type encountered in travel narratives) • Early Modern Travel Narratives o European audiences had a great appetite for travel narratives 
 o Travel writing that reads like anthropological writing, but fits the conventions of adventure/fantasy writing too o Travel narratives re-use bits from other stories – travellers tends to assimilate what they see into existing cultural forms or stories 
 o Peoples of New World believed by some to be lost tribes of early Judeo-Christian history, or lost peoples from Antiquity (assumes shared European cultural history) • The Travels of Sir John de Mandeville o Famous travel narrative popular from the 1360s on and translated into many languages 
 o The narrator claims to have travelled across the world, but likely compiled his narrative from other
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