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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: May ::
Re: Deeper Than Plummet Did Ever Plummet Sound
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1329  Tuesday, 14 May 2002

[1]     From:   Rainbow Saari <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 May 2002 06:14:33 +1200
        Subj:   Deeper than plummet did ever sound

[2]     From:   Vick Bennison <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 May 2002 18:56:40 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1316  Re: Deeper Than Plummet Did Ever Plummet Sound


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rainbow Saari <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 May 2002 06:14:33 +1200
Subject:        Deeper than plummet did ever sound

The repeated metaphor than Paul Swanson notes is, interestingly, not the
only one here.  Ariel, as the Harpy, informs Alonso that Destiny and the
ministers of Fate have bereft him of his son. Alonso tells his
companions

...the thunder,
That deep and dreadful organ-pipe, pronounc'd
The name of Prosper; it did bass my trespass.
Therefore my son i'th ooze is bedded; and
I'll seek him deeper than e'er plummet sounded,
And with him there lie mudded.

In 5.1, Prospero echoes  many of Alonso's words in his soliloquy

...to the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire, and rifted Jove's stout oak
With his own bolt; the strong-bas'd promontory
Have I made shake and by the spurs pluck'd up
The pine and cedar....

He concludes the speech with

...I'll break my staff,
Bury it certain fadoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound,
I'll drown my book.

Some ninety lines later Prospero tells Alonso, " I have lost a
daughter."

Alonso;
A daughter?
O heavens, that they were living both in Naples,
And King and Queen there!  That they were, I wish
Myself were mudded in that oozy bed
Where my son lies. When did you lose your daughter?

Prospero;
In this last tempest.

That there are so many parallels and  so much shared imagery in the
language of these two ( thunder/ thunder, dreadful/ dread,  bass/
strong-bas'd, as well as the 'plummet' and 'mudded'  ooze metaphors )
suggests to me that Shakespeare ( shake/ spurs ?) was not exhibiting a
lack of originality, but was up to something. But as to what?????

Falstaff, in the Merry Wives, is the only other character to use the
word 'plummet'; in the final scene he concedes that " Ignorance itself [
in the person of the 'Welsh flannel' Sir Hugh Evans ] is a plummet o'er
me", [ is capable of sounding his depths.] Perhaps there is some clue
here.

The relationship of  ignorance / knowledge to  the holding of power is
one theme explored in the Tempest. I note that Shakespeare makes use of
the word 'ignorant'  three times in it. Prospero tells Miranda " [ thou]
Art ignorant of what thou art, nought knowing of whence I am...".
Trinculo calls Caliban " most ignorant monster". Prospero observes of
the 'spell-stopped' men he has drawn into his magic circle, "...their
rising senses / Begin to chase the ignorant fumes that mantle / Their
clearer reason. "

For what it's worth, when Alonso uses the " deeper than e'er plummet
sounded" metaphor he is both ignorant of and powerless to control the
world he finds himself in. He is under the influence of Prospero's magic
and speaks in ignorance of the true facts of the situation.  When
Prospero uses virtually the same words he does so from a position of
knowledge and controlling power, saying he intends to renounce the use
of magic.

An interesting question, Paul.

Cheers,
Rainbow Saari

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Vick Bennison <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 May 2002 18:56:40 -0400
Subject: 13.1316  Re: Deeper Than Plummet Did Ever Plummet
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1316  Re: Deeper Than Plummet Did Ever Plummet
Sound

Clifford quotes and comments:
<"The term
<'Mark twain,' meant six fathoms of water- enough depth for
<clear passage
<of the boat," not two as Vick contends. Apparently Samuel
<Clemens delved
<one fathom below Shakespeare's mines.

We'll have to play dueling quotes:  Again from Dean King "A Sea of
Words" Mark twain - on at lead-line, the two fathom mark.  The old
riverboats drew very little water.

- Vick

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