February 12, 2007

And the storm is blowing again!

So the last time I thought about Shakespeare's "The Tempest" I was sitting in a class of all Shakespeare. I remember "The Tempest" being one of my favorite plays that we discussed because there were many fantasy elements in the play (ie the conjouring of spirits and the enchanting of the characters). Like Karissa and Vanessa I needed to do some brushing up, so after reading a quick summary and scanning the very same intro in The Norton, I mean Book of Sand, that Karissa wrote about I remembered what I liked most about this play.

In the introduction the editor wrote "'The Tempest' is unusual among Shakespeare's plays...the actions of "The Tempest" all take place in a single locale, the island, during the course of a single day." Why, one might ask, did I choose this particular quote? Well the simple answer is it is amusing to me that in the course of a single day Prospero is able to whip up and execute a plan to put himself back in power and marry off his daughter while being exiled on an island his enemies just happen to be passing after 12 years. If you think about all the the attempted murder that occurs in the play, the fact that all of a sudden Prospero is able to come out of exile, and the fact that his daughter is betrothed to get married it all seems very unreal. I think that is why I like it so much. I tend to live in the realm of fantasy way too often and this is the kind of story plot that I think a fantasy author could drool over.

The question is however, what was Shakepeare's intent when he wrote this play? Obviously we know from history that the play was performed in front of the King during his daughter's wedding ceremony, but does that mean that is why Shakespeare has Miranda getting married? What about the subplots in the play? Do they have some hidden meaning that we may not know about? I'll be interested to hear people's thoughts on this.

Shakespeare, The Tempest -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by Tiffany Brattina at February 12, 2007 7:03 PM | TrackBack

I remember the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's theatre critic, Christopher Rawson, teaching "The Tempest" with such enthusiasm when I was an undergrad at Pitt that it was impossible to dislike the play. My third reading of the work has done nothing to change my mind. I am not even into the fantastical elements of the play, but I still find myself reading on and on and on and on.

Posted by: Dave Moio at February 12, 2007 9:35 PM

I think that Shakespeare's intent was to keep his audience engaged without telling them everything himself. He was such a master of using the extra character to provide morals, or values behind the plays, and he really is so good at creating subplots in order to entertain the audience he is giving his plays to. He is very entertaining, but really, there is always a message behind the play, and in The Tempest, it seems to me that key points about justice, and who has authority are important to the play. Looking at history, Britain was finding its own identity, so power and justice were important, and maybe Shakespeare needed to say something about it.

Posted by: Jason Pugh at February 14, 2007 2:47 PM

I agree Jay, Shakespeare really was out there to entertain. Just look at the epilogue! A cry for applause - what entertainer does try that move at least once?

Posted by: Diana Geleskie at February 15, 2007 2:54 PM
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