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Lecture 42

ENGL 4723 Lecture 42: Tempest Notes (Week 15)

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ENGL 4723
Edward J Jones

Tempest Seen as one of Shakespeare’s best plays—romances where he figures out how to use all of the previous elements. Tragic element: usurpation (how many forms can you spot in one play?), shipwreck/death. Historic element: New World, Age of Discovery, relationship between Italy and Africa, 1590’s-1610’s Exploration and raiding for Elizabeth (Australia is prison colony). New World character is Caliban and Ariel, “savage,” alien culture—was Caliban’s island when Prospero arrived. Layering in place by people who have already died. Usurped rule took control of remote island, usurped from Caliban. Savvy Shakespeare, naturally evolving questions he doesn’t have to ask explicitly. Looks accessible, but very sophisticated. Shipwreck didn’t really happen, duped into thinking it happened—entire scene about it, staged. Usurpation of reader, writer takes away from us our actual understanding, transferred from characters to readers. New experience with Shakespeare, usurpation: Caliban, Prospero, Ariel, people on ship, Miranda and Ferdinand, then people on ship have performed usurpation. Art: Miranda introduces it—in realm of magic and casting spells. (good writer can create a spell over a reader, follow along without question or hesitation). THEORY OF ART: ultimate goal! Why Shakespeare does what he does, notion of art. Using Tempest to set up his theory of art through characterization, presentation, many genres in one. Attitude about what he thinks a play can accomplish. Use of nonreal (Ariel/spirit, ghosts, magic, fairies, resurrection, *dreams (critical), play within a play, disguise) creates a layer between the actual, reality distorted to create a gap/make you question the viability of your experience. Subplot—Tinculo, Stephano, and Caliban mirroring main plot. Miranda and Ferdinand? Comedy aspect: marriage, love at first sight, boring in the Tempest? She proposes to him, different because this is the first man she has ever seen besides her father. He flatters her, but she doesn’t really accept it because she has only ever seen her own face. Prospero is for it, but still meddling. Shakespeare commenting on the action, omniscient narrator. PROSPEROSHAKESPEARE! Stand-in for Shakespeare. Prospero’s narrative is umbrella with Stephano and Trinculo, Alonso and Co., and Ferdinand and Miranda under it. Caliban has his own agenda. Was Ferdinand placed in this position so he could come into contact with Miranda or are they character choices? Freedom? Not form the standpoint of the author—NEVER! Art=contrivance: no realistic literature—contrived realism. Romance with main theme being tragic (usurpation) and comic aspect. Art: writing plays is like having magic book—not always based in
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