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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: September ::
My Reading of "The Tempest"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0774  Thursday, 7 September 2006

[1] 	From: 	Martin Mueller <
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 	Date: 	Tuesday, 5 Sep 2006 10:32:07 -0500
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0764 My Reading of "The Tempest"

[2] 	From: 	David Basch <
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 	Date: 	Tuesday, 05 Sep 2006 11:34:58 -0400
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0761 My Reading of "The Tempest"

[3] 	From: 	Arthur Lindley <
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 	Date: 	Tuesday, 5 Sep 2006 16:25:19 +0000
 	Subj: 	Fwd: SHK 17.0764 My Reading of "The Tempest"

[4] 	From: 	Stuart Manger <
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 	Date: 	Tuesday, 5 Sep 2006 18:35:59 +0100 (BST)
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0764 My Reading of "The Tempest"

[5] 	From: 	Joseph Egert <
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 	Date: 	Tuesday, 05 Sep 2006 23:38:55 +0000
 	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0764 My Reading of "The Tempest"

[6] 	From: 	David Lindley <
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 	Date: 	Wednesday, 6 Sep 2006 10:58:02 +0100
 	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0764 My Reading of "The Tempest"

[7] 	From: 	John Crowley <
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 	Date: 	Wednesday, 06 Sep 2006 20:23:38 -0400
 	Subj: 	My Reading of "Tempest"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Martin Mueller <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 5 Sep 2006 10:32:07 -0500
Subject: 17.0764 My Reading of "The Tempest"
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0764 My Reading of "The Tempest"

There is fairly good textual evidence that Prospero's power is permanently 
diminished. As You Like It and the Tempest have various similarities, 
including an interest in the magic. In both plays the magician speaks the 
epilogue. Rosalind uses very much the same prose that she has been using 
throughout the play. Prospero, on the other hand, speaks in a peculiarly 
diminished doggerel, all the more striking for its contrast with the 'so 
potent art' that Prospero had displayed in his final evocation and 
resignation of magic. That is something listeners are expected to hear, 
whether or not they reflect on it--and I think there is nothing quite like 
it in the rest of Shakespeare.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		David Basch <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 05 Sep 2006 11:34:58 -0400
Subject: 17.0761 My Reading of "The Tempest"
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0761 My Reading of "The Tempest"

Joseph Egert has his interpretation of The Tempest and suggests that it 
consists of some deep, complex, psychological theme. That is fine for him 
but it does not unravel the play's mysteries or intent of the playwright.

I would suggest a more accessible theory that grows out of the text. 
Prospero tells us that Caliban is his creature and that he takes 
responsibility for him. This leads to seeing Caliban and Ariel as a pair 
of Prospero's creatures, with opposite attributes, respectively, evil and 
good. Caliban shows up as a tempter and obstructor and Ariel as an agent 
to carry out Prospero's wishes-the familiar paradigm of the Lord and His 
good and evil angels that vie for man's soul, the eternal battle 
confronting mankind and providing the most meaningful content of man's 
existence.

Consider that Prospero means in Italian, "I make happy." This must recall 
Psalm 84:5, "Happy are they that dwell in His house."

In these terms, The Tempest is an allegory depicting man's relation to a 
compassionate, loving, and long suffering Lord Who only wishes men to 
reconcile with Him and Who wishes to exact "not a frown further."

This is hardly my own spurious conception. It goes back more than 65 years 
to the work of Colin Still who proposed the idea of Prospero as the Lord 
and shows up in one of the college review notes for the play.

David Basch

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Arthur Lindley <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 5 Sep 2006 16:25:19 +0000
Subject: 17.0764 My Reading of "The Tempest"
Comment: 	Fwd: SHK 17.0764 My Reading of "The Tempest"

Remember Dorothy Parker:

Dante Gabriel Rossetti
   Buried all of his libretti,
Thought the matter over -- then,
   Went and dug them up again.

When we begin imagining Prospero, who is going home to die after all, 
behaving like DGR, we've wandered a bit too far into the realm of 
extratextuality, which I assume is part of Gabriel Egan's point.

Regards,
Arthur

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Stuart Manger <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 5 Sep 2006 18:35:59 +0100 (BST)
Subject: 17.0764 My Reading of "The Tempest"
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0764 My Reading of "The Tempest"

..........And after all, Prospero is going back to Milan, where every 
third thought etc etc? Where he made the huge mistake of immersing himself 
in the library that led to the coup, which led to etc........ How brave is 
that?

No, it has to be a complete and total renunciation of all that has made 
him the 'mage' figure and the power that made him unchallengeable. We have 
to believe him when he says he will break staff and drown book: promises 
made to Miranda and Ariel are binding in this play, aren't they?

Otherwise, a mega part of the play's core meaning is lost.

Stuart Manger

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Joseph Egert <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 05 Sep 2006 23:38:55 +0000
Subject: 17.0764 My Reading of "The Tempest"
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0764 My Reading of "The Tempest"

Gabriel Egan writes:

>Joe Egert wrote that
>
>>the gray magus [Prospero] . . . late in the play . . . buries
>>but does not destroy his instruments of power.
>
>I assume that's an allusion to:
>
>   5.1.54  [PROSPERO]  I'll break my staff,
>   5.1.55  Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
>   5.1.56  And deeper than did ever plummet sound
>   5.1.57  I'll drown my book.
>
>This is a promise, not an action, and I don't see textual warrant
>for believing that it is fulfilled.  Drowning a book would probably
>destroy it, and breaking a magic staff would certain destroy it, so
>if Egert thinks the promise is fulfilled then it's hard understand
>his implication that Prospero might later dig up these object to
>recover their power.

Egan assumes correctly. I may have been too hasty in taking Prospero at 
his word. Yet I continue to maintain the instruments would not be 
irreparably destroyed. Given his acknowledgment of the Caliban within, 
Prospero no longer trusts himself with easy access to such power. He would 
make the instruments exceedingly difficult but not impossible to recover. 
They will not be burnt. They are his ring of Gyges:

http://webs.wofford.edu/kaycd/ethics/gyges.htm

http://www.answers.com/topic/ring-of-gyges

Regards,
Joe Egert

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		David Lindley <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 6 Sep 2006 10:58:02 +0100
Subject: 17.0764 My Reading of "The Tempest"
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0764 My Reading of "The Tempest"

>    '5.1.54  [PROSPERO]  I'll break my staff,
>    5.1.55  Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
>    5.1.56  And deeper than did ever plummet sound
>    5.1.57  I'll drown my book.
>
>This is a promise, not an action, and I don't see textual warrant for
>believing that it is fulfilled', says Gabriel Egan.

Strictly, of course, this is true - but no one who hears the Epilogue, I 
think, can doubt that it is a promise enacted (indeed, in stage action the 
breaking of the staff is frequently performed, at significantly different 
points in the play).  Furthermore, there is no evidence that Prospero 
used, or was able to use, magic in Milan before his extirpation, and none 
that he will use it again when he returns.  As a number of critics have 
pointed out, Shakespeare makes quite clear that Prospero's magic is only 
operative on the island (the idea is interestingly developed by Richard 
Strier).

David Lindley

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Crowley <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 06 Sep 2006 20:23:38 -0400
Subject: 	My Reading of "Tempest"

Harold Bloom is the first critic I know of who wonders why Prospero 
renounces (or intends to renounce) his magic when he returns to Milan. 
Why?  Wouldn't it be handy there?  Would it not work beyond the island? 
Has he learned that things cannot be made right by magic?  (Seemingly 
not.)  Why not return into the world with the magic help the world surely 
needs?

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