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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: February ::
Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0424  Thursday, 14 February 2002

[1]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Feb 2002 11:07:54 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0415 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

[2]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Feb 2002 20:12:03 GMT0BST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0392 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest 2

[3]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 13 Feb 2002 07:18:55 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0391 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest--and Hamlet (Once
More)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Tuesday, 12 Feb 2002 11:07:54 -0500
Subject: 13.0415 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0415 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

> Tell me, please, those that know:  Is it un-Marxist to suggest that the
> sun is bigger and brighter than the moon, or a rush candle?  Do such
> ideas of quantitative relativism lead insidiously to the notion that an
> entrepreneur might possible make a more valuable contribution than a
> janitor? Larry Weiss

One of the principles of the Fifth Amendment is to protect the
innocent.  Asking you therefore to draw no negative inferences, I
respectfully decline to answer your questions.

Quantitavely yours,
Cliffy boy

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 12 Feb 2002 20:12:03 GMT0BST
Subject: 13.0392 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest 2
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0392 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest 2

> From:           Martin Steward <
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 >

> Don Bloom writes, "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?".

No - slavery and service are key terms in the play, and are explored and
examined in a variety of contexts within it.  It seems to be part of the
17th-century agenda of the play to explore their implication, not a late
20th-century imposition.

> I sympathise (a bit) with Don. I mean, Prof. Lindley will be telling us
> that the tooth fairy doesn't exist next.

Sorry - you've lost me there.  Do tell me, off line, what on earth you
mean.

> But the play is a lot sharper
> than the "blurb" made out, and this is not just so from the perspective
> of a "late 20th Century political agenda". Specifically - it is not only
> Karen thinking that Caliban should be called a slave - both Prospero and
> Miranda refer to him by that very epithet. And, in 1611, the word
> "slave" was a loaded one, especially in the House of Commons, and
> especially with regard to the rights of private property and the state.
> So here are a few ideas about how serious the play can be read as a
> response to 17th C political issues. I claim nothing new or
> earth-shattering - dare I say that it all seems like common sense to
> me...? It mainly concerns the political, legal, moral and economic
> status of Caliban vis-a-vis Prospero.

That was exactly what I meant.  In any terms you like, The Tempest is a
pretty equivocal romance. The nineteenth century was only able to
generate a bland, benign version of the play by some pretty ruthless
cutting, and by massive amplification of the faery elements.  Perhaps,
indeed, it's the tendency simply to lump it in with WT and Cym. that
generated a kind of myopia in some early-to-mid 20th century critics
(with an admixture of sentimental biography to assist) that ignored what
the text actually gives us.

The performances to which I alluded in my original post were not
necessarily 'politically correct' or producing a colonial or
postcolonial reading.  They respond to what's there in the text in
different ways - but all of which I am aware have tried at least to
explore the problematic nature of Prospero's exercise of power, and deal
with the fact that as romance endings go, Act 5 of The Tempest is pretty
severely qualified.

Professor David Lindley
Head, School of English

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 Feb 2002 07:18:55 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0391 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest--and Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0391 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest--and Hamlet
(Once More)

Larry Weiss writes, "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."

Robin Hamilton writes, "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? ...Curious that all three slaves
get the same reward -- freedom.  Perhaps Shakespeare is trying to tell
us something?"

I applaud Larry Weiss and Robin Hamilton for their profound expression
of, I hope, a counter-literary movement in modern criticism.  In an
earlier post on _Hamlet_ I tried to express myself on that point, and
quite frankly, missed my chance.  Allow me the opportunity to amplify.
I find in Shakespeare the expression of a belief in the Ultimate Good,
that is, Shakespeare's concept of human ethics as exemplified by the
Ultimate Good Prince in contradistinction to Machiavelli's _The Prince_,
and thereby still read Hamlet in _Hamlet_ as the Good Prince,
recognizing his role as rightful heir to the throne, and still believe
after all the thoughtful analysis of scholars, et al., that his external
actions and his profound words reveal his inner motivations.  Here, in
America, without a monarchy, and without a _need_ to know and understand
the subtleties of _divine right_ to the throne for a first-born male
heir, modern politically-correct American readers of Shakespeare tend to
incorrectly judge his plays with a politically-correct paintbrush based
on American standards of the past three decades.  In that same light,
inasmuch as _The Tempest_ is recognized as Shakespeare's last play, or
one of his last plays, might it not hold the clue to _his_
politically-correct statement of human ethics?

Bill Arnold

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