More Evidence for the Monomyth, Plus I Really Understand Intertextuality!

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“Colin Still, recognizing that Shakespeare could have had no direct knowledge of classical mystery rites, ascribed the symbolic coincidences he found with The Tempest to an inner ‘necessity,’ to the fact that the imagination must always talk in some such terms when it gets to a sufficient pitch of intensity.”

-From Northrop Frye’s “Shakespeare’s The Tempest” in Donald Keesey’s Contexts for Criticism, page 303


This inclusion of Still’s argument really helped me to understand intertextuality better, just as Swann’s essay did.  What Still seems to be suggesting may be evidence for the monomyth idea that we have discussed in class.  Frye talks about the “No play of Japan” that includes travelers, fantastic creatures, such as ghosts, in a world that seems to be caught between life and death.  Frye goes on to suggest that The Tempest has elements that are shockingly similar.  Most likely, Shakespeare would not have been reading these types of plays, and yet he created one that is so similar.  I think this similarity allows us to see how the use of conventions and genre can be helpful to an intertextual criticism.  Even though I did not believe that it was possible to really look at works from two very different countries intertextually, I now see that it is possible and can be done successfully.  


See what others have to say about Frye's essay on The Tempest


Greta Carroll said:

Erica, I like the point you chose to blog about to. I think Frye did a really good job proving his point to without having any actual proof. He had not historical proof that Shakespeare knew anything about it, yet he still managed to support his point historically, by pointing out that some ideas exist and evolve independently of each other on their own. It makes me think of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace who independently both came up with the idea of natural selection. Frye is giving us a good example of how we can prove what we need to even if the relationship isn’t as obvious as we think.

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