February 12, 2007

Obey thy...leaders?

In Yachnin's (how do you say that anyway?) essay he claims that the purpose behind Shakespeare's character Gonzalo in "The Tempest" is to show how you must always obey those that control the government no matter what your political or religious views are. You may feel that you are doing the wrong thing, but in order to uphold the stability of government he basically says an order is an order. Yachnin states:

Once we realize that Gonzalo is guilty of complicity in Prospero's overthow, that he obeyed Alonso's command to cast Prospero and Miranda adrift, we will want to know why we should not view him as a mere time-server. From Prospero's viewpoint, Gonzalo's obiedience to his master (even though it has entailed Prospero's suffering and near-death) is praiseworthy because political obedience guarantees the stability of government.

This quote tells me that although Gonzalo may not have been Prospero's salvation he was still able to at least make it possible for Prospero to survive. Also, by following orders Gonzalo made it possible for the government to keep on trucking even though the rightful leader was not there any longer. By keeping the government going it provided Prospero with the opportunity to find a way back to Milan and reclaim what was his. The background information about this time period also helps to make the argument about obedience applicable to the play. I think that this argument could have been made using formalism, however I don't think that it would have been as effective. Once I understood why the essay began the way it did, I found that I was able to follow the argument a bit easier.

The way that Yachnin uses historical criticism in this essay is amazing. He showed that the people in this time period either listened to their leaders or something bad would probably have happened to them. He also demonstrates well how this can be easily seen in "The Tempest." When I first read this play, I never saw the political implications in the play until someone pointed them out to me in class. Now I'm seeing another political implication that I wouldn't have noticed without the essay. Who knows if the common people watching the play in Shakespeare's time would catch the sly implications that Shakespeare places in the play, but I would bet that someone in the upper classes would pick up on the undertone. I hope that I would have.

Yachnin, ''Shakespare and the Idea of Obedience: Gonzalo in The Tempest -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by Tiffany Brattina at February 12, 2007 8:52 PM | TrackBack

I was also impressed with Yachnin's acumen. I think he did a tremendous job of providing relevant and convincing information to support his argument.

Posted by: Dave Moio at February 12, 2007 9:31 PM

I also used the same quote on my blog.

I basically agree with you because I wrote on the same lines as you.

Posted by: Denamarie at February 13, 2007 8:59 PM
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