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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Tempest, Renaissance Education and Chess
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0730  Friday, 30 March 2001

From:           Stuart Manger <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Mar 2001 16:20:49 +0100
Subject:        Tempest, Renaissance Education and Chess

The symbolic role of the chess scene between Ferdinand and Miranda in
Act 5.

[a] Miranda clearly knows the game well enough to question Ferdinand's
strategy and even probity.

[b] BUT would women have been taught to play chess as an integral
element in European Renaissance courtly manners and skills, or was it
more likely in England than elsewhere?

[c] Or was it specifically an aristocratic, and probably specifically
masculine, pastime, hence a very obvious demonstration, and stunning
theatrical trope for Shakespeare to deploy, not only to Ferdinand but to
Alonso, and even more to a courtly audience, of Propsero's education of
his daughter well beyond 'what ordinary princesses can'?

[d] Is it a metaphor for sexual warfare - here an index of the 'new',
purified, post-Masque Ferdinand, who would not now dream of cheating in
the 'game of love or life'?

Stuart Manger

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