History and the Audience
“Gonzalo’s participation in the overthrow of Prospero calls into question the validity of Prospero’s praise of Gonzalo as his savior, and beyond that, calls into questions Prospero’s practical intelligence, acuity and authority.”
-From Paul Yachnin’s “Shakespeare and the Idea of Obedience: Gonzalo in The Tempest” in Donald Keesey’s Contexts for Criticism, p. 39
Yachnin’s essay seems to go perfectly along with Watson’s essay in that the latter shows the importance of considering ever angle of history in criticism, while the former is an example of this thorough consideration. Here, Yachnin recognizes the possible meanings that the play could afford the reader, and more importantly, the audience in Shakespeare’s time. At the end of his essay, he suggests that there are “ contradictions of English Renaissance political culture ” that are at work within the play. This time, the audience and history decided that there would be no one side that would be held in favor, as is sometimes the case when this school of criticism is used. However, it does seem to me that both historical criticism and reader-response criticism must be employed at the same time for either to truly work when considering a piece of literature that was written in the past.