Intro to Literary Study (2005)

2 March 2005

Critical Approaches to The Tempest 3

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Lenninger, "The Miranda Trap: Sexism and Racism in Shakespeare's Tempest"

(Handed out in class Feb 28)

Thus in The Tempest, written some fifty years after England's open participation in the slave trade, the island's native is made the embodiment of lust, disobedience, and irremediable evil, while his enslaver is presented as a God-figure. It makes an enormous difference in the expectations raised, whether one speaks of the moral obligatons of Prospero-the-slave-owner toward Caliban-his-slave, or speaks of the moral obligations of Prospero-the-God-figure toward Caliban-the-lustful-Vice-figure.... This kind of symbolism is damaging because it deflects our attention away from the fact that real counterparts to Caliban, Prospero, and Miranda exit -- that real slaves, real slave owners, and real daughters existed in 1613 for Shakespeare's countemporaries and have continued to exist since then. (290-92)

Leininger, Lorie Jerrell. "The Miranda Trap: Sexism and Racism in Shakespeare's Tempest." The Woman's Part: Feminist Criticism of Shakespeare. Eds. Carolyn Ruth Swift Lenz, Gayle Greene, and Carol Thomas Neely. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1983. 285-94.

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Bloom, Shakespeare and the Invention of the Human (selection)

(Handed out in class Feb 28)

Caliban, a poignant but cowardly (and murderous) half-human creature (his father a sea devil, whether fish or amphibian) has become an African-Carribean heroic Freedom Fighter. This is not even a weak misreading; anyone who arrives at that view is simply not interested in reading the play at all. Marxists, multiculturalists, feminists, nouveau historicists -- the usual suspects -- know their causes but not Shakespeare's plays. (662)

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