Shakespeare's Tempest

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					Shakespeare's Tempest

                 Sylwia Ejmont, 7 March 2011
       The Tempest's Composition
   Written around 1610-1611, possibly Shakespeare's
    last play
   Earliest recorded performance: 1 November 1611;
    the King's Men act before James I and the English
    royal court at Whitehall Palace on Hallowmas night
   Published in 1623 in the First Folio as the first play
    in the Comedies section
   Romance? Tragicomedy?
   Composed in neoclassical style, characterized by
    three unities of play: Time, Place, and Action.
Contemporary concerns and influences

   English interest in sea exploration; discovery of
    new worlds; clash of cultures and colonization
   Popular interest in „monsters” and the „other”,
    the civilizing force vs. the natural state of man
   Interest in magic and the occult, alchemy and
    the power that man can exert over the physical
   The future of the current royal dynasty and
    potential threats to its continuity
 Famous exploits of Sir Francis Drake, who led
the first English circumnavigation of the world
(1577-1580) and was second-in-command of
English fleet against the Spanish Armada (1588)
 An eyewitness description of the settlement in

Jamestown by the captain: John Smith, "A True
Relation of Such Occurrences and accidents of
Noate as Hath hapned in Virginia" (1608)
 Africa or Ireland? Barnabe Rich, "A New

Description of Ireland" (1610). The wild Irish are
„rude, uncleanlie, and uncivill, … cruell, bloudie
minded, apt and ready to commit any kind of
mischiefe”, even to „rebel against their princes; …
Neither may age nor honour so protect any
[person], that Rape be not mingled with murder,
nor murder with Rape” (15-16, 19).
"A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land
       of Virginia” by Thomas Hariot (1585)
William Strachey and the disaster of the
       Sea Venture (June 1609)
"A true reportory of the
  wracke, and
  redemption of Sir
  Thomas Gates Knight;
  vpon, and from the
  Ilands of the
  Bermudas: his
  comming to Virginia,
  and the estate of that
  Colonie then, and after,
  vnder the gouernment
  of the Lord La Warre,
  Iuly 15. 1610."
 The salvage man: civility and barbarism
Echoes of Montaigne's „Of the Caniballes”, translated
  into English by John Florio and published in London in
  1603 – idealization of the indigenous culture of Brazil:

„It is a nation... that hath no kinde of traffike, no
   knowledge of Letters, no intelligence of numbers, no
   name of magistrate, nor of politike superioritie; no use
   of service, of richs or of poverty; no contracts, no
   successions, no dividences, no occupation but idle; no
   respect of kinred, but common, no apparrell but
   naturall, no manuring of lands, no use of wine, corne,
   or mettle. The very words that import lying, falsehood,
   treason, dissimulation, covetousnes, envie, detraction,
   and pardon, were never heard of amongst them.” (102)
             Other literary sources

   Virgil's Aeneid
   Ovid's Metamorphoses – translated into English
    by Arthur Golding. Medea's invocation:
„Ye airs and winds; ye elves of hills, of brooks, of
  woods alone,/ Of standing lakes, and of the
  night, approach ye every one,/Through help of
  whom (the crooked banks much wondr'ing at
  the thing)/ I have compelled streams to run
  clean backward in their spring.” (7.264-8)
„My charms crack not” - Art and magic
                       John Dee, consultant of
                        Queen Elizabeth I –
                        science and magic as
                        inseparable „arts”
                       Shift in the reign of
                        King James I to the
                        negative aspects of
                       Christopher Marlowe's
                        „Dr Faustus” (1589)
                       Ben Jonson's „The
                        Alchemist” (1610)
Basilikon Doron, the „royal gift” (1599)
   Treatise on goverment written by King Charles
    VI of Scotland, later King James I of England, in
    the form of a private letter to his son:
„it is necessarie yee delight in reading, and
   seeking the knowledge of all lawfull things; but
   with these two restrictions: first, that ye choose
   idle houres for it, not interrupting therewith the
   discharge of your office; and next, that yee
   studie not for knowledge nakedly, but that your
   principall ende be, to make you able thereby to
   use your office.”
Domestic politics as context for the play

   The Tempest written during negotiations for the
    marriage of Princes Elizabeth's to Elector
    Palatine of Bohemia; play also performed
    during wedding celebrations of „the winter
   Prince Henry, the popular royal heir, dies
    unexpectedly in November 1612
               The play's structure
   Shakespeare's shortest play; action takes place
    within 3-4 hours on a mysterious island halfway
    between Naples and Tunis
   9 scenes – begins with shipwreck and ends with
   Symmetry and parallels: Prospero and Sycorax;
    Prospero's overthrow in Milan reflected in
    Antonio and Sebastian's plot to murder Alonso;
    marriage of Ferdinand and Miranda acted out in
    a masque with Ceres and Juno; Trinculo and
    Stephano parody it in trying out „trumpery”
    hanging on the line, forgetting to murder
    „Where the bee sucks” - role of music

   Music as vehicle for Prospero's magic
    (Ferdinand guided by Ariel's song to Miranda,
    and the drunkards to the muddy pond; Gonzalo
    wakened by song to prevent the killing of the
   Caliban says that the island is full of „sounds
    and sweet airs” (3.2.136)
   Fernando: „Where should this music be? I'th'
    air, or th'earth?” (1.2.388)
          Language of the Tempest
   Language is elusive and ambiguous. Its poetry
    „seduces the audience into a state of stylistic
    suspension, an intuitive zone between sleep
    and wake, … a marginal condition between
    expectation and understanding, affirmation and
    skepticism, comedy and tragedy” (McDonald).
   Verse is elliptical; lines are compressed to
    heighten the impression of simmering emotions
   Unusual compound words like „sea-change”
   High proportion of irregular lines – harmony and
    disruption; „utopian longings and human chaos”
   Prospero – benevolent magician? benign
    philosopher? tyrranical imprerialist?
    Shakespeare himself?
   Ariel – air and water, grade and movement;
    angel „Uriel” from Jewish cabala (John Dee's
    spirit messenger); Ariel = Jerusalem (Isaiah 29),
    the „lyone of God” (often played by women)
   Caliban – opposition to Ariel: earth, less than
    human (half-fish); anagram of cannibal? „brave”
    monster or „mishapen knave”? Wronged
    colonial subject? pure „id”?
Angelica Kauffmann: Miranda and Ferdinand (1792)
William Hogarth: The Tempest (1735)
                        The Tempest in art

William Hamilton: Prospero and Ariel (1797)   John Everett Millais:
                                              Ferdinand Lured by Ariel (1851)
Titanic Meets Beckett – RSC's Tempest
        (2006) dir. Rupert Goold