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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: February ::
Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest 1
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0391  Monday, 11 February 2002

[1]     From:   Brandon Toropov <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Feb 2002 06:53:56 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

[2]     From:   John Ciccarelli <
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        Date:   Friday, 08 Feb 2002 11:45:58 -0500
        Subj:   Shakespeare's The Tempest

[3]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <
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        Date:   Friday, 08 Feb 2002 11:57:56 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

[4]     From:   Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Feb 2002 10:19:22 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

[5]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Friday, 08 Feb 2002 13:33:54 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

[6]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Feb 2002 21:43:06 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

[7]     From:   Janie Cheaney <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Feb 2002 18:54:50 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

[8]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Feb 2002 17:15:12 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brandon Toropov <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Feb 2002 06:53:56 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

Don Bloom wrote,

> It's a blurb, for sure, and very blurby, but what
> does it say that's
> wrong?

Forgive me if someone else already caught this, but doesn't HENRY VIII
come after THE TEMPEST? In which case it's not his "last play" (or at
least not the last play in which he had some kind of authorial role).

Brandon

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Ciccarelli <
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Date:           Friday, 08 Feb 2002 11:45:58 -0500
Subject:        Shakespeare's The Tempest

Don,

I agree entirely with your point about keeping Shakespeare within his
own time period and not imposing any anachronistic commentary on the
works.  IMHO, there has been far too much of this and not in the correct
vein.  One can use Shakespeare or any historical source to add weight to
a particular area of study as an example or to stress points of a
thesis.  But don't use it as the sole pillar, stating "When Shakespeare
wrote this play, he was REALLY thinking about..."

However, to expand on another of your points and this is probably why
Shakespeare can be applied to so many areas of study, was his ability to
see the wholeness of human nature.  While he may not have set out to
write an expose of colonialism (and I don't agree in portraying Caliban
that way), Shakespeare did humanize him, so we could empathize.  In
creating characters, he makes them as human as possible to give them
that a full range and scope.  He easily could have created cardboard
cutouts of Shylock and Othello, but didn't because a real person
complicates and livens up the story.  It appears that he was ahead of
his time in not solely relying on prejudices.

As an aside, I find Kate's last speech to be one the strongest arguments
for equality of the sexes.  She sees the error of her ways because
Petruchio shows her how badly she treated others with her shrewishness.
She was a shrew to begin with because no man paid her any mind and here
a man finally does.  My thought is that her last speech to the ladies is
"Why make your marriage a living hell, when you don't have to."
Recognize what your husband does for you and return the sentiment".  The
final submission seems more tongue in cheek then a plain out "Yes, I
will submit to you".  So Petruchio sees he has a "True Wench".  One that
speaks her own mind, but respects his own.  A partner, not a servant.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <
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Date:           Friday, 08 Feb 2002 11:57:56 -0600
Subject: 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

> But if the comment is only ours, for what exquisite reason do we put it
> there?
>
> (Please, only one brickbat per customer)
>
> Cheers,
> don

I am behind you 110%,

Fight, Fight, Fight,

Yours truly,
Lazlo Toth

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Feb 2002 10:19:22 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

I have to agree with Don on this one. I didn't find any moral
indignation over the blurb. They have chosen their interpretation and it
works. The use of the term "attendants" refers to the fact that the
island is now Prospero's court and Ariel and Caliban are attendants to
the Duke of Milan in this "court".

The colonial interpretation of this play is well documented but it
doesn't mean that any other interpretation is wrong.

Brian Willis

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Friday, 08 Feb 2002 13:33:54 -0500
Subject: 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

No brickbats from me, Don.  I agree with all you said and had been
trying to formulate the same observations but could not do so as
elegantly as you did.  The notion that a brief, blurby, summary of the
play is laughable because it is out of step with politically correct
pseudo-scholarship that has been in vogue for the past 45 years suggests
that it is perfectly in harmony with the prevailing critical theories of
the previous 345 years, including the period closest to the composition
of the play.

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Feb 2002 21:43:06 -0000
Subject: 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

>KP objects to "attendants" and suggests they should be called "slaves"
>-- and I grant her point. I don't agree with it, but I recognize that
>you could use the negative term rather the positive. But to what end? To
>impose some late 20th Century political agenda on an early 17th Century
>work?

Prospero explicitly calls both Caliban and Ariel slaves (that very term
in
the play).  Ferdinand describes his servitude to Prospero as "wooden
slavery".

The three slaves of Prospero.

The word had strong connotations even in the seventeenth century.
Slavery isn't anachronistic.  What +might+ be anachronistic is the
concept of +racial+ slavery.  Tell the Athenians slaving (sic) in the
silver mines of Sicily under the lash of their fellow-Greeks that
slavery is part of "some late 20th Century political agenda".

>Ariel is not a human being but an "aerial" spirit, has been rescued by
>Prospero from terrible torture, and has been promised his freedom for
>his magical help in this last effort. The promise is honored.

He's still (neither a racial nor a chattel but) a slave -- and
constrained not by gratitude but by Prospero's power.

>Caliban, of course, is another kettle of fish (pun intended). He is,
>however, a sub-human monster who has tried to rape Miranda. Perhaps we
>are now drifting back into a phase where rape is not considered a very
>serious crime. But speaking as the father of a daughter I would not have
>a favorable attitude toward the rapist, even if he didn't succeed.
>Nevertheless, Caliban is likewise freed and left in possession of his
>island.

Yes.  Curious that all three slaves get the same reward -- freedom.

Perhaps Shakespeare is trying to tell us something?

Robin Hamilton

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Janie Cheaney <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Feb 2002 18:54:50 -0600
Subject: 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0376 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

>[Shakespeare] had a capacious
> understanding of human nature and a gift for expressing it in words, but
> whenever I read him I am the more involved in his time, his world. And
> they did not include a lot of ideas that we (myself included) consider
> morally fundamental.
>
> But if the comment is only ours, for what exquisite reason do we put it
> there?
>
> (Please, only one brickbat per customer)

I would like to offer a rose.

I too was puzzled at the response to the blurb, to the point of reading
it over again to see what I missed.  "The Tempest" being one of the
plays I could never get into (due to defects in myself, not the play) I
refrained from comment.  I wouldn't necessarily disagree with a dark
interpretation of "The Tempest," but why need that be the only, or the
best interpretation?  God knows (He above all) the tragic dimensions of
this world, but hope and honest laughter exist too.  And, paraphrasing
Oscar Wilde, to be serious about everything is ultimately to become
trivial.

JBC
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