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February 19, 2007

Meaningful because it is Meaningless?

McDonald, ''Reading The Tempest'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

"The verbal music is related to the oneiric and unreal atmosphere that attends and complicates the action of Shakespeare's late romantic forms; it promises much and delivers little, and I propose that it is just this dynamic that makes The Tempest uncommonly meaningful" (105).

So basically, The Tempest is so meaningful because it is so meaningless - even though it seems like it should be very meaningful...maybe? Ugh. This essay was incredibly interesting - although almost paradoxical. At first I struggled with what McDonald was getting at, especially since he seemed to pick the longest, least-used words in the English language to make his points. But, by the end the statement I quoted above did actually make some sense even though when I first read it I was wondering if McDonald only got his essay published because the readers didn't really understand what he was saying but thought it sounded good.

Again, I wish that I had read the whole play, but while I was watching it I did experience much of what McDonald refers to in terms of "promis[ing] much and deliver[ing] little." I hope to try to read the play in full over break and plan on revisiting this essay afterwards in hopes of better determining whether or not I agree with McDonald's claims.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at February 19, 2007 12:21 AM

Comments

Thanks, Lorin, for making things make sense. I like the quote you picked our since it seems to carry the attitude of the whole essay.

"But, by the end the statement I quoted above did actually make some sense even though when I first read it I was wondering if McDonald only got his essay published because the readers didn't really understand what he was saying but thought it sounded good."

HAHAHA! I wonder that sometimes, too. Hilarious. I have the play if you want to read it, though. My Book of Sand would be in good hands, I believe, so I would be willing to loan it to you should you so desire :) It has great notes (as do most Nortons).

Posted by: Karissa at February 19, 2007 5:08 PM

I think that the McDonald piece was amazing, but I do agree that he did use the biggest words that he could think of to use. Karissa, we all loved "The Book of Sand" but let's not loan it right now (lol jk). I said in my weblog that this piece reminded me of the Yachnin piece, expressing instances of justice and power. But rather than attempting to find an explanation from the author's audience, or the author's specific time period or history, McDonald is trying to look into the patterns of the literature itself.

I personally liked it because this was the first time that I could really see the same argument being presented in two different criticisms. This essay was the first time that I really understood that there are different criticisms that can argue the same point.

Posted by: Jason Pugh at February 21, 2007 4:41 PM

The way McDonald looks for the patterns within the piece of work itself rather than an explanation of the history or intention allows for me to understand fully what he was arguing within his essay.

Like you said,
"The Tempest" promises much and delivers little.
We expect this work to be more dynamic and powerful, yet we all seem to walk away with a sense that Shakespeare was evoking the power of forgiveness. I believe that this play is just "uncommonly meaningful" because it was not like any other works Shakespeare wrote.

Posted by: Denamarie at February 21, 2007 10:07 PM

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