« Reader vs. Writer is there opposition? | Main | What were the Greeks thinking? »

Morally Natural

"Moral art as well as the art of illusion are natural, so the common split in the word's use--unatural acts being either magical or immoral--are not contradictions but isolations...That brothers can kill each other is unnatural only from the point of view of someone who insists that natural always means moral..." (381)

"...all the characters are mirrors of us, especially as we are all artist-dreamers, and all the mirrors are chipped and cracked." (Miko 382)

The word "natural" is to me much like the word "normal." How exactly do we define these words when in so many different cultures, and even within the complexities of our own, they mean different things?

In The Tempest the reader witnesses many different acts of barbary, or so it seems if one takes the opinion of natural morality. How moral is Prospero? How can the reader justify his acts, or should they be justified? Perhaps he is just as guilty of immoraity as those who plotted his death. What if Caliban is the one with true morality? He at least is trying to defend and take back what was "rightfully" his in the first place, right?

The idea of what is or isn't natural is a tough one. Should we limit ourselves to the moral issue, and what makes it moral? Who's idea or view of morality should the reader take?

I love the end quote to Miko's essay. As a person who is fascinated with psychological horror, I have always believed that every person has the ability to do evil, the only reason we do not is because most can restrain themselves or are taught to be "good" people, but we are all "chipped and cracked" in some way. When we read a piece of work that delves into the intricacies of the immoral those chipped and cracked pieces of ourselves can get a glimpse of the darker side of ourselves, sometimes we turn away in revulsion and sometimes we stare in fascination.

I don't know if is was Shakespeare's intention to "test the limits of art or morality" (376), but I think the character study of The Tempest shows the reader that there is more to these characters than a play of magical disruption and colonization. We must consider asking ourselves the question's why and what. Why are certain acts immoral or moral? What is natural? What is moral? And, why do these things matter?

Comments (3)

Angela Palumbo:

This is a great entry Mara! I agree with you and Miko about human tendencies. The nicest person in the world even has their own inner demons. We all have to control these impulses. The same thing goes the other way too though. Even the most evil person on the Earth has good in him/her. I believe that we are all born predisposed to do either. It's more of a choice and the environment we are braught up in.

Greta Carroll:

I like your deconstruction of morality, Mara. It really is interesting to ponder what truly is “morality.” I think that Historicism II that we started this week as well, also brings that question to the forefront. Are our ideas simply constructs created by our society or is there something innately present in us that helps us know this is right and this wrong? I think it kind of goes back to argument of Nature vs. Nurture. How much can we control and nurture (like Prospero tries to) and how much is simply our natural instincts (nature). And how powerful are each of these forces pressing on a person? Caliban really is an interesting case in point. After all, he is nurtured (Prospero teaches him to talk) and he is full of nature, so should we consider him bad or good? Was he nurtured too late? These are all very complex questions that deconstruction helps Miko bring to our attention.


I think that Prospero's and Antonio's actions were natural for the day this was written. People would constantly overthrow rulers and send them to exile. As far as morals, it is natural for people to have them and I think that everyone has a set of morals. Sometimes when a person does something wrong, people will snicker, "That person has no morals." I think that person does have morals, he/she just has morals that may conflict with another person's idea of what is right and wrong.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 13, 2009 6:22 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Reader vs. Writer is there opposition?.

The next post in this blog is What were the Greeks thinking?.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.