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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: September ::
Caliban's Island
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1453  Saturday, 3 September 2005

[1] 	From: 	Martin Steward <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 1 Sep 2005 16:52:11 +0100
	Subj: 	SHK 16.1437 Caliban's Island

[2] 	From: 	Bob Grumman <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 1 Sep 2005 16:09:19 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1437 Caliban's Island

[3] 	From: 	David Basch <
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	Date: 	Friday, 02 Sep 2005 10:12:20 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1437 Caliban's Island


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Martin Steward <
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Date: 		Thursday, 1 Sep 2005 16:52:11 +0100
Subject: Caliban's Island
Comment: 	SHK 16.1437 Caliban's Island

 >Yes, the text eliminates the Bermoothes (read as Bermudas).  Here is 
Ariel:
 >
 >"...once / Thou call'dst me up at midnight to fetch dew / From the
 >still-vex'd Bermoothes..."
 >
 >This line cannot possibly refer to a tempest-vexed Bermoothes, for even
 >Ariel would find it difficult to fetch dew in a violent storm.  The image
 >here is of a Bermoothes vexed by stillness, quite opposite to an 
island amid
 >a tempest tossed sea.  No shipwrecks here, but an absolutely calm sea, the
 >dew gathering overnight on the island in the stillness.
 >
 >Thomas Hunter, Ph.D.

Was this a joke???

Dr. M

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Bob Grumman <
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Date: 		Thursday, 1 Sep 2005 16:09:19 -0400
Subject: 16.1437 Caliban's Island
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1437 Caliban's Island

 >>David Lindley quotes, 'Of course the Bermudas remain central to The
 >Tempest'.
 >>
 >>Then David Lindley writes, "Sorry, no, they don't. The Bermoothes are
 >>mentioned in one comment by Ariel as a place from which he was sent
 >>to 'fetch dew' during a speech which refers to the ships of Alonso's
 >>retinue as 'upon the Mediterranean  float'. The play is clearly set
 >>somewhere between Naples and Tunis."
 >
 >Yes, the text eliminates the Bermoothes (read as Bermudas).  Here is 
Ariel:
 >
 >"...once / Thou call'dst me up at midnight to fetch dew / From the 
still-vex'd Bermoothes..."

The Bermudas are still clearly central to The Tempest.  The island in 
The Tempest is not a real island.  It is a make-believe island 
fantasized to be in the Mediterranean, and having qualities in common 
with a host of other islands, real and fictional.  It is most based on 
the island that Strachey was shipwrecked on, however.

Or so I assert.

--Bob G.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		David Basch <
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Date: 		Friday, 02 Sep 2005 10:12:20 -0400
Subject: 16.1437 Caliban's Island
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1437 Caliban's Island

May I suggest another source for Prospero's description of himself as 
called to the attention of our list by Peter Farey? Here are the lines 
as they are in the play:

                                        I have bedimm'd
      The noontide sun, call'd forth the mutinous winds,
      And 'twixt the green sea and the azured vault
      Set roaring war: to the dread rattling thunder
      Have I given fire and rifted Jove's stout oak
      With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory
      Have I made shake and by the spurs pluck'd up
      The pine and cedar: graves at my command
      Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let 'em forth
      By my so potent art.

Whatever other sources can be listed, there is its sources in the Psalms 
and the bible. Thus Psalm 29 describes the Lord Who "thundereth" and Who 
"is upon many waters" and Who "breaketh the cedars" and "shaketh the 
wilderness." While the elements referred to are different in detail in 
the psalm, the actions are the same. Elsewhere in the Bible, the Lord 
restores life as in the resurrection of the dry bones and the episode of 
Elisha and the young boy brought back to life. In all, the powers of 
Prospero are that of the Lord.

But this should not be surprising to those familiar with scholars like 
Colin Still and one of the commentators on the Tempest in Monarch Notes 
(or in the other college review book), who have alleged that Prospero is 
an allegoric representation of God.

Colin still, who wrote more than 60 years ago, shed light on the device 
whereby Prospero plays a dual role, a mortal, deposed duke taking refuge 
on an island and the Lord when he dons his cloak and becomes "robed in 
majesty" as described in Psalm 93. There are signs of this divine 
identity everywhere in the play as I have presented in an article and 
chapter on this play. For example, there is actually an arraignment 
scene in the play in which Prospero brings the characters to judgment.

This stamps the island as not a real location but as allegorical of the 
world, the world in miniature, and its flawed inhabitants.

David Basch

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