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Group Readings > The Tempest, Act 1, June 13-19,

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message 1: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod

We are going to begin our newest discussion of The Tempest.

Tom Lane is going to be discussion leader and I will post the upcoming threads...with the Act and dates for missions in the headers.

Please remember the general "rule" of no spoilers!

I'll post all the Acts and dates ahead of if someone wants to post about something in Act 2 or 3 for example....they can jump ahead of the calendar.

Let's have more fun!!!

message 2: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda Elliot (lucindaelliot) | 583 comments Apart from being away between 22 June and 1 July, I hope to be in on this, Candy, as I have never, to my shame, read 'The Tempest'.

message 3: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
Oh my gosh!! Thats wonderful...I am traveling at one point during this time period....but I will have my phone where I post on here with anyways...have phone will discuss!

message 4: by JimF (new)

JimF | 219 comments
Enter Alonso, Sebastian, Anthonio, Ferdinand, Gonzalo, and others.

The three characters, (1) Ferdinand, (2) Sebastian, (3) Anthonio, are borrowed from the journal of Magellan's expedition.

(1) Ferdinand Magellan started the first circumnavigation in 1519; he died in the Philippines in 1521.

(2) Juan Sebastian Elcano completed the expedition in 1522.

(3) Antonio Pigafetta recorded the journey.

This can be affirmed by Setebos, a rare name appeared in Pigafetta's journal as an inferior pagan god. Shakespeare used it for Sycorax's god.

Naming of The Tempest compares Shakespeare's achievement in drama with the first circumnavigation.

O, brave new world . . .

message 5: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
Thats super cool Jim. I'm looking forward to this discussion!

message 6: by JimF (new)

JimF | 219 comments Prospero-Miranda (= O Prosper in drama) blesses Shakespeare.

However, many words can be used for blessing; why Prospero? Prospero is also a perfect anagram of proposer. (OED says Shakespeare's Hamlet is the first one to use proposer.) In this case, Prospero-Miranda = Proposer in drama.

message 7: by Boar's Head (new)

Boar's Head Eastcheap (bh_eastcheap) | 21 comments Just checking in for this.

I have a very strange relationship with this play. Each time I've taught it, it's moved me almost to tears. What makes that perhaps a little more spicy is that I would never choose to teach it, and the choice has always been foisted on me.

I'll try and drop in, if only to big up Caliban :)

message 8: by JimF (new)

JimF | 219 comments Why Miranda?

Miranda = in-drama;
Miranda = Mira-and;
Prospero = proposer;
Prospero-Miranda = proposer-and-Mira.

Mira is the proposer of Shakespeare in drama.

Who is Mira?

Mira can be found in Bible (Myra, a citie in Lycia). Philip Sidney used it first as a maid's name in 1577:
Philisides, the shepherd good and true,
Came by Menalcas’ house, the husbandman,
With songs of love, and praise of Mira’s hue, . . .
Philisides is Philip Sidney. Mira (Myra) is Mary, his sister.

Why would Shakespeare play with names?

Philip Sidney Mary,
PhiliSides Mira,
ProSpero Miranda, . . .
Pylium Socratem Maronem.

message 9: by Christine (new)

Christine | 434 comments I really like The Tempest. Looking forward to reading this again!

message 10: by JimF (new)

JimF | 219 comments Why a ship-master hides himself in a tempest?
[A tempestuous noise of Thunder and Lightning heard:
Enter a Ship-master, and a Boteswaine.]


Here Master: What cheer?

Good: Speak to the Mariners: fall to it, yarely,
or we run ourselves a ground, bestir, bestir. [Exit.]
. . .

Good Boteswain have care: where's the Master?
Play the men.

Bote-swaine is the First Folio's first word, spelt as bote-swaine, boatswaine, and boat-swaine; all three can spell Ben Jonson. The method can still survive when spelling is unfixed. Bote-swaine can't spell other names related to Shakespeare.

If Bote-swaine reflects Ben Jonson, who is his ship-master? The stage direction "Ship-master, and" can spell Mary Sidney. Jonson served Wilton House. Bote-swaine and ship-master are the first two characters in the First Folio.

Sealing names in special places works like invisible marks.

* * *

Jonson's friend William Drummond (1585–1649) listed 14 rules in his essay Character of a perfect Anagram, including some exceptions to omit, repeat letters.
2. This is the Law of an Anagram, That no Letter be added, nor any taken away. This admitteth some Exceptions, which is, That some one or other Letter may be omitted; but with great Judgment, . . .

4. It was said, that no Letter should be taken away; yet, if there be any great Reason, a Letter may be added as relligio, repperit; or that a Letter may be doubled, as when two Letters occur in the Name, one may be abolished, so one of Necessity may be doubled.

message 11: by Christine (new)

Christine | 434 comments JimF wrote: "spelt as bote-swaine, boatswaine, and boat-swaine; all three can spell Ben Jonson...."

But where is the 'J'?

message 12: by JimF (new)

JimF | 219 comments Christine wrote: "JimF wrote: "spelt as bote-swaine, boatswaine, and boat-swaine; all three can spell Ben Jonson...." But where is the 'J'?"

Most of the J (j) are replaced by I (i) in the First Folio, e.g. Iesus, Iohn, iealous, iustice (one of the reasons to check the original spelling).

Ben Jonson used Bote-swaine here, not Boat-swaine, for printers might change the Boat-swaine to Boat-swain, then the e is missing. This line has only one word, else it's easy to find an e around; besides that, one word to spell his name and match with the context is rare.

The hyphen breaks the word to two to cope with the name's structure (Ben Jonson), a hint but not so important.

I assume Ben Jonson is the editor of the First Folio, then to prove that by facts, e.g., Bote-swaine to spell his name is one fact (abductive reasoning). With enough such facts, I can conclude that he is the editor (inductive reasoning). After that, all facts become the evidence to support my assumption.

message 13: by Tom (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments Ahoy, fellow voyagers to brave new worlds, as we ride the tempestuous waves to fetch up on Shakespeare's Fantasy Island. Here Prospero, rather than Mr. Roarke, is puppet-master; though Mr. Roarke - I mean, Khan - I mean, Ricardo Montalban (who in his films as the Latin lover my mother swooned over) would have made a great Prospero on the stage (he did dub the English-language version of a 1961 German-made Hamlet, that was roasted on "MST3K"). Captain Jean-Luc Picard - I mean, Patrick Stewart - did a good Prospero. This inclement past weekend in Chicago was an appropriate time to sit beside the window, listen to the rhythm of the falling rain, tap a butt of sack, and read Mr. William.
I am reading the play from the Arden Shakespeare, 1999 (though scholarship may have moved along since then). The Arden editions leave no stone unturned in efforts to date plays, comment on texts, and supply supplementary material. The hermeneutical and exegetical stuff, though, need not distract us from the hortatory uses of Shakespeare: What can it mean to us? How do we react and relate to it?
Present scholars' consensus, based on hints of political context in the play, is that this was Shakespeare's last solo work, circa 1610 or 1611. There seems to be no direct source from which the story line was cribbed, but borrowings from some Classical writers, and Montaigne. A 1609 shipwreck of Englishmen bound for the Virginia colony may have inspired the play, though wrecks were common enough. Is the play set in Bermuda, where the good ship Sea Venture went down? Allusions to Italy and North Africa make a Mediterranean location for Prospero's island more likely, in my estimation (assessing lines 227-235).
Much ado can and has been made of the origins and possible associations of the characters' names. I have wondered whether Disney's "Little Mermaid" was named by some writer with a memory of Shakespeare's sprite. Our shipmate JimF has noted that Ferdinand, Sebastian, and Antonio were names from the journal of Magellan's circumnavigation 1519-1522 (though ending without the commodore). Entertaining and edifying things can be done with anagrams of the names. But then, these were common enough Italian names during the Renaissance. Does Prospero prosper? Is Ariel airy? ("He makes winds his messengers, his servants flames of fire," Psalm 104:4, quoted in Hebrews 1:7.)
Let us "Bestir, bestir!" ourselves to the dissecting and contemplating of Act 1. Here is my synopsis.


Scene 1: ON BOARD

Boatswain: (nautical jargon)
Passengers: Remember you have a V.I.P. for your cargo, you incompetents.
Boatswain: We are trying to save the ship and you guys are kinda getting in the way. BTW, I'm more hip on saving my own life than your king's [line 20].

Scene 2: ASHORE

Miranda: Dad, is that ship in distress your doing?
Prospero: "There's no harm done." Now for some revelations: exposition, exposition, exposition. And that is why I caused the storm. [Skimming ahead, it looks like a boatload of the scenes in this play involve people standing around talking about the past or laying plans.]
Ariel: I manifested on the ship as St. Elmo's fire* - the electrical phenomenon, not the Brat Pack coming-of-age movie, though the movie would probably have frightened the sailors more, LOL. Sigh; what do I have to do now?

Caliban: You stole my island and turned me into a drunk.
Prospero: You sex offender.

Ariel: "Full fathom five" - the song, not episode 21 of "Victory at Sea," nor the 1990 sub adventure film. Makes for "a sea-change."
Ferdinand: Am I hearing things?
Prospero: Check out that guy.
Miranda: He's hot.
Ferdinand: Babe-o-licious!
Prospero [aside]: To make sure he really appreciates the prize, I'm going to make him jump through hoops.

The three characters that seem to have most exercised reviewers and commentators on "The Tempest" are Prospero, Ariel, and Caliban. How do you picture them?
I envision Prospero as older, but not necessarily wizened. I identify with his preference for literature and learning, "the liberal arts" (line 73), over politics and worldly affairs (lines 89-90, 109-110): "my library was dukedom large enough." I think of Petrarch's observation: “Gold, silver, jewels, purple garments [a luxury item], houses built of marble, groomed estates, pious paintings, caparisoned steeds, and other things of this kind offer a mutable and superficial pleasure; books give delight to the very marrow of one's bones. They speak to us, consult with us, and join with us in a living and intense intimacy.”** (Prospero does, though, incline to don a robe of office when exercising his sorcerer's power; perhaps a prop ploy whereby Shakespeare's audience was alerted that magical doings were afoot.) While rain and chill has kept me from much reading outdoors so far this season, under the evergreens in the yard where I live, or along the lakefront, I agree with Cicero that "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need."*** I, like Prospero, am semi-retired, living the way of wenjin 文錦, the scholars who served the Chinese imperial bureaucracy, then left for quietude cultivating the arts. (Though I do look for employment, especially in teaching. People my age are not much in demand in today's economy.)
It was thoughtful of the sympathizing counselor Gonzalo to equip Prospero's tub with his favorite volumes, as well as provisions and "rich garments," when Prospero was expelled from Milan and set adrift (lines 159-168).
Prospero's retirement, though, opened the way for the loss of his throne to his ambitious brother Antonio, in a midnight coup. Alas, all too often, though not always nor necessarily, book-smart leaves out street-smarts.
On the other hand, as happened with the Doctor Faustus of Shakespeare's contemporary Christopher Marlowe, Prospero's life-of-the-mind leanings moved toward being "rapt in secret studies," magic, that is. The dark arts, it seems. Or, at least, the forces Prospero commands are neutral, or even benign (as Ariel refused Sycorax's abhorrent commands, lines 271-274), but can be slanted to good or ill.
I wonder if my initial liking of Prospero will change as I read on.
I am planning on watching, from library DVDs or on Hoopla, some films of the play. And don't forgot that the best science-fiction film ever made (by ideas, characterizations, electronic score, special effects, and the introduction of a robot remarkable for its day), "Forbidden Planet" (1956), has many parallels, however conscious and deliberate these were to the writers, with "The Tempest": castaways, a scientific genius analogous to a magus, an innocent daughter; although the scientist tries to warn off the approaching rescue ship, rather than engineering a ship's crash. Dr. Morbius is Prospero. Altaira is Miranda. Morbius tutors Altaira, as Prospero taught both Miranda and Caliban. Robby the Robot is Caliban. The space cruiser's cook combines Trinculo and Stephano. Commander Adams is Ferdinand; and it is rich seeing a younger Leslie Nielsen in the "serious" role of a starship captain.
A 1969 episode of the original "Star Trek" series, "Requiem for Methuselah" - the last episode to be aired in the first run on NBC, in fact - has a recluse near-immortal, Flint, with amazing scientific powers, who creates and teaches an android companion, Rayna, but it is Kirk who awakens Rayna to love. Echoes of "The Tempest," but faint ones.

*St. Elmo's fire is a plot point in "Moby-Dick," when Ahab channels it through his body and thus appears powerful and uncanny to the crew. In the 1893 Columbian Exposition (World's Fair) in Chicago, at the Westinghouse exhibition, Nikola Tesla famously ran electricity through his body in a crowd-pleasing aura and very personal advertisement for his direct-current systems.
**Francesco Petrarca (Italian Renaissance scholar and poet; 1304-1374); quoted in Stephen Greenblatt, "The Swerve: How the World Became Modern" (New York: W. W. Norton, 2011), p. 119.
***Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE), Roman statesman, in a letter to Marcus Terentius Varro (116-27 BCE, Roman scholar and writer), included in "Epistulae ad Familiares" ("Letters to Friends," correspondences dated 62 to 43 BCE), IX: 4.

message 14: by Christine (new)

Christine | 434 comments Tom wrote: "Ahoy, fellow voyagers to brave new worlds, ..."

Thanks, Tom, for that very thorough and entertaining introduction!

message 15: by Christine (new)

Christine | 434 comments JimF wrote: "I assume Ben Jonson is the editor of the First Folio, then to prove that by facts, e.g., Bote-swaine to spell his name is one fact (abductive reasoning). ..."

It makes sense. Would he have been forbidden to use his own name as the editor? I assume he had some trouble as a 'political' playwright and maybe did not want to endanger himself, or wanted to further ensure the quality of Shakespeare's work. Renaissance arts were forever full of puzzles, anagrams and hidden meanings...

message 16: by Christine (last edited Jun 16, 2018 11:12AM) (new)

Christine | 434 comments Tom wrote: "The three characters that seem to have most exercised reviewers and commentators on "The Tempest" are Prospero, Ariel, and Caliban. How do you picture them?..."

I picture Prospero as a wise wizard with a bit of an ax to grind, not unlike Ian McKellan's Gandalf. Also, I always love the comparisons between Prospero and John Dee, the occultist who advised Queen Elizabeth.

In Celtic mythology, Ariel is an elemental air spirit, or a 'sylph'. They are known to be friendly to humans, but their powers can also be destructive, like a hurricane. I picture him as mercurial, transparent, androgynous, cooperative but also dangerous. I thought Julie Taymor's 2010 movie did a great job of portraying Ariel.

Caliban is the most up for grabs. I think of him as less a monster and more a native. He is strange, earthy, uncivilized and crude, yet somehow encompassing the spirituality and beauty of the island. Maybe like this:

message 17: by JimF (new)

JimF | 219 comments Three names in the circumnavigation are not the key, but Setebos.

Prospero (a common name) is not the key, but Miranda.

Miranda-Prospero can spell Mary Sidney. (Miranda projects the innocent Countess of Pembroke; Prospero, her shadow in the drama world.)
Good: Speak to the Mariners: fall to it, yarely,
or we run ourselves a ground, bestir, bestir. [Exit.]

"Speak to the Mariners" can spell Shakespeare.

"Mariners" needs d to spell Mary Sidney, i.e., Mary Sidney's mariners.
"Mariners" needs g to spell anagrams, i.e., mariners' anagrams.
It's the reason to have the "Good" here.

* * *

The name Ariel (altar) is borrowed from Bible: "Therefore sent I to Eliezer, to Ariel (Geneva, Ezr. 8:16)."
King James, Isaiah 29:1–2

Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices. Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow: and it shall be unto me as Ariel.

Geneva, Isaiah 29:1–2

Ah altar, altar of the citie that Dauid dwelt in: adde yere vnto yere: let them kill lambs. But I wil bring the altar into distresse, and there shalbe heauines and sorowe, and it shall be vnto me like an altar.
Ariel is a perfect anagram of real-I.

message 18: by JimF (last edited Jun 12, 2018 06:45PM) (new)

JimF | 219 comments Christine wrote: "Would he have been forbidden to use his own name as the editor? ..."

Ben Jonson is one of the Wilton House poets; they wrote under the code name Shakespeare. Or we can see in this way: each one of them plays a part in the new world of Shakespeare, including the man William Shakespeare. Key is, can this assumption make Shakespeare's works greater?

message 19: by Glenn (new)

Glenn (gedixon) | 2 comments JimF wrote: "Enter Alonso, Sebastian, Anthonio, Ferdinand, Gonzalo, and others.
The three characters, (1) Ferdinand, (2) Sebastian, (3) Anthonio, are borrowed from the journal of Magellan's expedition.

(1) Fer..."

Wow, are we quite sure then that Shakespeare had read the journals of Magellan. If so, that's absolutely amazing.

message 20: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) Great mod comments Tom! My very first impression in the first few scenes was how incredibly easy this play is to read... and my next thought was, why? S seems to fluctuate between obtuse and cryptic to flowing and poetic, depending on the play - or perhaps, on his maturity?

Caliban is already the most intriguing character - so warped and riven by circumstances. In 1962 (my version reads) the New York Shakespeare Festival production of this play cast James Earl Jones (thinner then) as Caliban.

I'm really looking forward to this read & discussion.

message 21: by Christine (new)

Christine | 434 comments JimF wrote: " Key is, can this assumption make Shakespeare's works greater?i..."

Well, it draws attention to the work and keeps the work alive in a time when it may have fallen into obscurity. It adds some interest for modern times.

message 22: by JimF (new)

JimF | 219 comments Glenn Dixon wrote: "... are we quite sure then that Shakespeare had read the journals of Magellan"

I don't know whether Shakespeare had read the journals of Magellan or not. Any assumption about what Shakespeare had read is derived from his words.

The three names may be a coincidence. If that's a riddle of the first circumnavigation, Shakespeare should provide more clues.

Setebos is Caliban's mother Sycorax's god. This rare name appears in "Relazione del primo viaggio intorno al mondo" by Antonio Pigafetta who recorded the journey, said to be published in 1550–59.
"... sbuffavano come tori, chiamando fortemente Setebos, che li aiutasse. . . . Al diavolo grande = Setebos."

"... they raged like bulls, calling loudly for Setebos to aid them. . . . for their big Devil Setebos." (Translated by James Alexander Robertson.)
Setebos can hardly be a coincidence.

Besides that, the "brave new world" comes when Miranda sees "such people" including the three lords.
O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here?
How beauteous mankind is? O, brave new world
That has such people in it.
The first circumnavigation did discover many goodly creatures.

message 23: by JimF (new)

JimF | 219 comments Christine wrote: "... keeps the work alive in a time when it may have fallen into obscurity. ..."

It can reason many difficult lines, which is the best part. Shakespeare is ten times greater than the world can imagine today.

message 24: by Tom (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments Hail, readers. Yesterday I finished watching (on Hoopla) the 2010 video of a Canadian performance of "The Tempest" in which Captain von Trapp - I mean, Christopher Plummer - plays a sparkling Prospero. Every one of the players is very good, but a special shout-out goes to Julyana Soelistyo for an astonishingly perfect Ariel (looking a bit like an escapee from Blue Man Group, which has its own wisdom).
I sent my first post on "The Tempest" from a cyber cafe. I had my copy of the play on the table. A woman sitting at the console next to me saw it, and leaned over to whisper that it is one of her favorite plays. There are more Shakespeare lovers out there than some might think, as witness the attendance at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater's summer performances in the parks. She made two suggestions I am finding valuable. First, watch and compare clips of well-known speeches from performances available on the internet, to see how widely these can be interpreted. Prospero's "break my staff/drown my book" meditation from Act 5 is a good one for this. Also, she suggested reading the text out loud, instead of just silently. In doing so, I have experimented with different temperaments for Prospero, and am coming to see him as open to varying portrayals.
As I read on from my initial identification with Prospero, I began to view him as a grumpy old man with, as Christine says, an axe to grind, not without reason, though his own obliviousness to Antonio's ambition contributed to his downfall. I was surprised, then, by Christopher Plummer's generally good-natured Prospero, who seems to view his predicament as deposed duke and his castaway condition with humor. Of course, at the time the play is set ("the past" - what went before, leading up to this - "is prologue"), Prospero's command of magic and spirits has placed him decidedly in charge of the destinies of his enemies. He can therefore be amused, even amusing himself with those at his mercy. The way he wields power over Miranda, over his man Friday (Caliban) and his other man Friday (Ariel), and the castaways, disturbs me.
How old to picture Prospero? Jumping ahead - I think you have all guessed this will happen, so no spoiler - at the beginning of Act 4 Scene 1, when Prospero endorses Miranda's betrothal to Ferdinand, he remarks that he is giving Ferdinand "a third of mine own life." That might mean that Miranda was one of three things he valued most, the other two being, I would think, his dukedom and his magical art. Or, it could mean he raised Miranda for a third of his life. Miranda was three years old when Prospero was ousted from Milan and he and she were set adrift, and they had spent 12 years on the island (Act 1 Scene 2). 3 years +12 years makes Miranda 15 years old, x 3 would mean Prospero is age 45.
Now I am engaging in that exegetical ferreting-out I sometimes eschew. But such can be fun. Apart from that, I agree with Janice that the play seems comparatively easy to read. And, oh, looking ahead, the fantasy elements are going to get even more delicious.
Miranda is the simplest character, innocent. But then, in a sense, so is Caliban. Both are a product of Prospero's tutoring, or, in the case of Caliban, "civilizing"? As the orphaned offspring of Sycorax, Caliban grew up basically feral (like Mowgli) until Prospero came along. Caliban knew the island's natural features, and showed them to Prospero, making possible Prospero's and Miranda's survival (lines 338-339). Caliban thus seems to embody the "feel" of the island in an earthy sense, as does Ariel in a spiritual sense. Prospero added "nurture" to Caliban's "nature" (lines 335-337), and taught him language - so Caliban now can curse (lines 364-366). When Caliban makes untoward advances toward Miranda, is it sinful lust and betrayal, or still just a kind of innocence, him having not been socialized in a larger human circle so to know its mores? Perhaps Caliban is more noble savage than "fluttered folk and wild...half devil and half child," as per Mr. Kipling.
Some postmodernist commentators have seen the relationship between Prospero and Caliban as a reflection of European colonialism and imperialism during the Age of Exploration. Perhaps.
How to visualize Caliban? Is a devil as his father (lines 320-321) meant to be literal, or just a put-down of him? Is he somewhat reptilian? Though a demon could be pictured as a satyr as well as a dragon. Or amphibian-like, as in the 2010 film with Plummer, looking rather like the creature from the Black Lagoon ("The Shape of Water")? I think of him as more human, though perhaps physically scruffy, maybe what is called a "bear" in the gay community. (Try Google video of "Family Guy Goldilocks and the 3 bears," and you will see what I mean.) Caliban has been through a lot, and has been made a pawn. I like Christine's comments about him, and the pic she links to. I feel sorry for him.
Then there is Ariel. Great comments on him (it? do spirits of this sort properly have gender?), Christine and JimF, and thanks for the Ezra and Isaiah citations.
Since Ariel can take various forms, I see this character as, indeed, an elemental, like a fiery jinn in Muslim/Arab mythology, or the entity below the ship in Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." I imagine Ariel's "true" form as being a pillar of light like that which accompanied the Israelites during the Exodus (well, yes, and a smoking cloud by day); and like the shafts of light of indescribable color that are the appearance to human eyes of the eldila in C. S. Lewis' space trilogy. When Ariel appeared on the ship as St. Elmo's fire, that was thus very close to how the spirit would appear to us without shape-shifting.
I am impressed by Ariel's resourcefulness in carrying out Prospero's commands.
Tonight I visited some friends, and the question of what to have for dinner came up. I suggested "sea water shalt thou drink; thy food shall be the fresh-brook mussels, withered roots, and husks wherein the acorn cradled" (lines 462-465). No kidding, I really did, having the text then in hand. We didn't eat mussels, but did fry some scallops, and had coleslaw - not withered, though from an island: Treasure Island grocery.
It is 2:45 a.m., and I am awakened by lightning and a heavy rainstorm here in Chicago. What better setting for musing about The Tempest.

CORRECTION to my previous post: Tesla advocated alternating current, not DC; that was Edison's approach, which proved unable to transmit current over very long distances practicably. Tesla had some invention ideas that didn't quite make it, but in conjunction with Chicago utilities magnate Samuel Insull, AC delivery became Tesla's premier contribution to the modern world. (Insull, a patron of the arts, was also instrumental in giving Chicago its Civic Opera building, where the world-class Lyric Opera is currently based.)

message 25: by Tim (new)

Tim Horwood | 17 comments It amuses me that Prospero tells Miranda that all the people on the ship are safe. Prospero only learns what really has happened when he calls Ariel. What if everybody drowned?

I think Caliban is seen as a man since on seeing Ferdinand:

Why speaks my father so ungently? This
Is the third man that e'er I saw,

Miranda would have known just her father and Caliban or am I missing someone?

message 26: by Christine (new)

Christine | 434 comments Tim wrote: Miranda would have known just her father and Caliban or am I missing someone?..."

No you are right, it is even further exemplified:


"Thou think'st there is no more such shapes as he,
Having seen but him and Caliban: foolish wench!
To the most of men this is a Caliban
And they to him are angels."

This is a comparison between Caliban and Ferdinand. Which sort of leads me to believe that Caliban IS a normal man, albeit a Native, but far more human than beast!

There are some interesting suggestions about the duplicity of Prospero's nature. He has, through Ariel, put a spell on both Miranda and Ferdinand to make them fall in love:

"I might call him
A thing divine, for nothing natural
I ever saw so noble."

[Aside] "It goes on, I see,
As my soul prompts it. Spirit, fine spirit! I'll free thee
Within two days for this...

... At the first sight
They have changed eyes. Delicate Ariel,
I'll set thee free for this."

Knowing, of course, that Ferdinand is a prince, it makes sense. Still, it is a bit under handed. Worse yet, instead of giving them a quick happily ever after, he plans to make Ferdinand suffer:


"They are both in either's powers; but this swift business
I must uneasy make, lest too light winning
Make the prize light.

One word more; I charge thee
That thou attend me: thou dost here usurp
The name thou owest not; and hast put thyself
Upon this island as a spy, to win it
From me, the lord on't."

And Prospero makes Ferdinand suffer plenty!

"I'll manacle thy neck and feet together:
Sea-water shalt thou drink; thy food shall be
The fresh-brook muscles, wither'd roots and husks
Wherein the acorn cradled. Follow."

message 27: by Christine (new)

Christine | 434 comments Tom wrote: "Hail, readers. Yesterday I finished watching (on Hoopla) the 2010 video of a Canadian performance of "The Tempest" in which Captain von Trapp - I mean, Christopher Plummer - plays a sparkling Prospero..."

I have never seen that version, will try to check it out! It seems like Plummer would be a bit too kind as Prospero.

Chicago gal here -- was awake during the storm last night and also thought about The Tempest. I love your choice of food, haha, how appropriate! Must incorporate some mussels (or something!) as we read this.

I saw the CST production of Tempest a few years ago (and loved it!) The whole freak show -1930's take was brilliant. However, I am still seeing Caliban as less of a freak and more of a noble savage. Glad you liked my pictures!

message 28: by Steve (new)

Steve Evans (steveevansofpahiatua) | 47 comments JimF wrote: "Why Miranda?

Miranda = in-drama;
Miranda = Mira-and;
Prospero = proposer;
Prospero-Miranda = proposer-and-Mira.

Mira is the proposer of Shakespeare in drama.

Who is Mira?

Mira can be found in B..."

Being perhaps a bit too simple minded for this discussion I have a different take on Miranda, a name that first appears in this play (Imogen in Cymbeline is also apparently his coinage though it is often argued to be a printer's misreading of Innogen). It seems to me Miranda refers to Mirandola, as Shakespeare was modelling Prospero on Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. Pico, whose love of philosophy led him to resign as prince of his wee state in Italy, was almost certainly known to Shakespeare via Sir Thomas More, who translated Pico's nephew's biography of his uncle. It is the first of "his" works in the online edition I consulted. Pico was a big fan of the Kabbalah.

In a broader context, Shakepeare really liked storms. They were a terrific plot device for him.

message 29: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) Prospero's magical manipulations of who loves whom seems a bit like Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream. And like Puck, Prospero uses his power like someone who is familiar with power, and because of this (magical) power feels himself above the ordinary moral laws of behavior. Of course, Puck isn't human, so there the similarity ends. Prospero seems to be a fully three dimensional character - heartfelt, but cruel, thoughtful, but manipulative, etc.

message 30: by JimF (new)

JimF | 219 comments Steve wrote: "... Being perhaps a bit too simple minded for this discussion I have a different take on Miranda, ... Giovanni Pico della Mirandola."

Relating to Mirandola isn't simple at all. Shakespeare might borrow Miranda from Mirandola. The next issue is, how to use that name in the play.

Miranda could be inspired by miracle. I assume Prospero and Miranda are Mary Sidney's two identities, a male in drama and female in real life. Title of Ben Jonson's 1616 epigram CXIIII does the same:

I Must beleeve some miracles still bee
When SYDNYES name I heare, or face I see: . . .

Mrs.? There was a Philippa Sidney (1594–1620), Robert Sidney's daughter. In any case, miracles can spell Mary-calls, and sounds like that too, which matches with "I hear"; miracles and SYDNYE can spell Mary Sidney, and Philip Sidney her brother is in the title.

Your assumption Miranda from Mirandola also suggests that Shakespeare used imperfect anagrams. To affirm that, many samples are needed.

Caliban = clay-ban

Caliban is a perfect anagram of canibal (an obsolete form of cannibal), agreed by many. However, Caliban isn't a man-eater (quite weak actually).

Caliban equals to clay-ban; to ban is to curse; clay is earth, which is how Prospero call him the first time:
What hoa: slave: Caliban:
Thou Earth, thou: speak.

Clay has the definition of the human body (living or dead) as distinguished from the soull; the earthly or material part of man (OED). Clay-ban is a cursed, forbidden body.

Caliban's "Ban ban Cacaliban" suggests us to split the name to xxxx-ban, and shows how imperfect anagram works in Shakespeare (Cacaliban as Caliban).
No more dams I'll make for fish,
Nor fetch in firing, at requiring,
Nor scrape trenchering, nor wash dish,
Ban ban Cacaliban
Has a new Master, get a new Man.

message 31: by Tim (new)

Tim Horwood | 17 comments While Caliban is described as Earth Ariel moves through air, fire and water making the four elements.

All hail, great master! grave sir, hail! I come
To answer thy best pleasure; be't to fly,
To swim, to dive into the fire, to ride
On the curl'd clouds, to thy strong bidding task
Ariel and all his quality.

I found an article which downloads as a pdf.

Prospero’s Magic and the Role of the
Four Elements. A Reading of The Tempest

message 32: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda Elliot (lucindaelliot) | 583 comments Hello, everyone. This looks as if it is a fascinating discussion, and I am sorry that I will be away until the end of June, with no access to a PC. However, I am looking forward to joining in the discussion on my return.

message 33: by Christine (last edited Jun 19, 2018 11:37AM) (new)

Christine | 434 comments Janice (JG) wrote: "Prospero's magical manipulations of who loves whom seems a bit like Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream. ..."

Interesting comparison, I thought of this too! MSND is also one of my favorites. Puck carries out the duties of his king, Oberon, and Ariel carries out the duties of his master, Prospero. However, it seems Prospero is manipulating the lovers for his own ends (making a match between his daughter and the heir of Naples) whereas Oberon enjoys meddling in the affairs of humans. Oberon, however, also manipulates his own fairy wife, Titania.

Both Oberon and Prospero, it seems, believe they are using magic for justice. Oberon is punishing Demetrius and Titania, whereas Prospero is punishing Antonio. Interesting how they both wield power through servants.

message 34: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
Gosh, already amazing comments and discussion. My internet was messed up for the last few days so I am catching up.

am really blown away by the name stuff Jim. Great work!

I love the idea of getting food that fits with the play Tom.

Tom did you include a link to the play from Canada?

And spoilers even if we already "know" the play....try to suspend our knowledge....perhaps in the hope of allowing ourselves to follow some of the great detective work you are all doing on this play.

Each of your voices has shown how easy it is to read The Tempest again and learn something new! Over and over again!

message 35: by Christine (new)

Christine | 434 comments JimF wrote: "Relating to Mirandola isn't simple at all. Shakespeare might borrow Miranda from Mirandola. The next issue is, how to use that name in the play.

Miranda could be inspired by miracle...."

Interestingly, Miranda's name is analyzed further in Act 3 (No spoilers! Just thought this was pertinent to our names discussion.)

What is your name?


Admired Miranda!
Indeed the top of admiration! worth
What's dearest to the world!

My baby name book lists the meaning of Miranda (Latin) as 'to be admired'. Upon further investigation:

Ferdinand means 'bold venture'.
Antonio means 'of inestimable worth'.
Sebastian means 'respected'.
Alonso means 'prepared for battle'.

No listing for Prospero, Gonzalo or Caliban.

As we read further, it will be fun to see how these names hold up, or if they are relevant...

Of course, it's fair to say Shakespeare was a bit obsessed with names! In Romeo and Juliet he spent a good deal of time analyzing them:

"O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,"

message 36: by JimF (last edited Jun 20, 2018 08:17PM) (new)

JimF | 219 comments Christine wrote: "Interestingly, Miranda's name is analyzed further in Act 3 ..."

You're right. The interesting word here is "top"; for "Admir'd" is on top of "Admiration"; or admiration can spell admir'd.

What is your name?

Miranda, O my Father,
I have broke your hest to say so.

Admir'd Miranda,
Indeed the top of Admiration, worth
What's dearest to the world:

"Admir'd" is on top of Miranda. If we go further, Mira is on top of Miranda. The design looks like a pyramid.


This matches with Philip Sidney's Song for an Accession Day Tilt (November 1577):

Philisides, the shepheard good and true, [1]
Came by Menalcas' house, the husbandman,
With songs of love, and praise of Mira's hue, [3]

Line 3's "and praise" can spell Sidney, so "and praise of Mira" can spell Mary Sidney, similar to Shakespeare's statue in Wilton House—"is heard no more" (Mary Sidney is heard no more).

There are only three names in this song. Menalcas (from Virgil) is a perfect anagram of manacles. "Menalcas' house" is a house of manacles.

Mary Sidney (1561–1621) married to Henry Herbert (1538–1601) in April 1577, few months before that song. She was 16 then.

message 37: by JamesD (last edited Jun 23, 2018 01:13AM) (new)

JamesD | 549 comments Tim wrote: "It amuses me that Prospero tells Miranda that all the people on the ship are safe. Prospero only learns what really has happened when he calls Ariel. What if everybody drowned?

I think Caliban is..."

My understanding of the storm/tempest is that it was an illusion created in the minds of the mariners by Prospero. There was no actual storm - people just thought there was, and so Prospero could safely assume that no one was hurt.

message 38: by Christine (new)

Christine | 434 comments JamesD wrote: "My understanding of the storm/tempest is that it was an illusion created in the minds of the mariners by Prospero. There was no actual storm - people just thought there was, and so Prospero could safely assume that no one was hurt...."

Interesting and maybe so, because Gonzalo also says that their clothes did not even get wet...

message 39: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) Christine wrote: "JamesD wrote: "My understanding of the storm/tempest is that it was an illusion created in the minds of the mariners by Prospero. There was no actual storm - people just thought there was, and so P...

Interesting and maybe so, because Gonzalo also says that their clothes did not even get wet... "

Didn't it say that their clothes were in finer shape after the storm than before? I don't have the play handy to quote, but definitely magic was at work.

message 40: by Tom (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments Hail, merry readers. Please forgive my long absence from the conversation. I was out of commission for over a week with rough illness. With bows to the ministrations of hospitaliers and apothecaries, I am back on my feet. (Is a blood test not all that different from a lancing?) I aim to quickly catch up with your posts, and respond to them, and be back on the intended reading schedule with ruminations of my own.

First, a movie review. In 2010, Christopher Plummer was presenting on the Canadian stage a version of Prospero that, as Christine well noted, came across as "a bit too kind." He was probably being himself more than interpreting the character, although it was still satisfying. (Candy: I watched this on Hoopla through the Evanston Public Library. I haven't been able to find a full-length version of it online, just clips.) In the same year, a film was made that was not the taping of a stage production, but a film in its own right, with all the possibilities of computer special effects, re-takes, and editing that can introduce.

In this iteration, Helen Mirren brought a broader range of feeling to a yet overall vengeful Prospera. An androgynous and demurely nude Ben Wishaw, with the aid of a lot of computer work, is a really really effective Ariel. This Ariel is as much a water sprite and a forest nymph as an, ahem, aerial entity. (Thanks, Tim, for noting that Caliban may be seen as earth while Ariel moves freely through water, fire, and air, the two of them together covering the four elements.) He is petulant about being released from his service to Prospera, not without warrant; yet is curiously tender toward her, briefly caressing her shoulder (in, for my sensibilities, a disconcertingly sexual way), and suggesting wonderful sincerity, rather than irony, to the line, "Do you love me, master?" Felicity Jones is Miranda, living up to the expectations her record would suggest. A buffed Djimon Hounsou gives the best Caliban I have seen on screen so far, looking to me more like a Cro-Magnon than a monster. You can get the film on YouTube - the whole thing for free, not just snippets - and on Hoopla.

Modern film technology especially brought out the occult elements for me. In the opening, a sand castle - symbolic of lost dukedom? - dissolves in the rain (as the "dreams" will "dissolve into thin air") while a Bermuda Triangle-like pinpoint focused squall afflicts the ship, directed by a Gandalf-like Prospera holding high her staff from a cliff above the ocean. We see Prospera's laboratory, with magical objects and astrological machinery. These elements strongly brought out one of my first impressions as I began reading "The Tempest": everything that is happening with the ship and its occupants is illusion. On the other hand, the Hawaiian islands that were the location for shooting, gave me quite the image I had in my mind of what Prospero/a's island should look like (minus Shakespeare's exotic and no doubt meant to be humorous mentions of wolves and bears and lions).

In the background-revealing dialogue between Prospero and Miranda, as written by the Bard, Prospero keeps asking Miranda if she is paying attention. With Plummer, this sounds like merely a stock line of a professor addressing a pupil. With Prospera and Miranda, Miranda's attention does seem to stray off as she ponders the implications of what is being said, and has to be called back to the present moment.

The most heavy-handed humor, the "strange bedfellows" scene between Trinculo, Stephano, and Caliban, is, in keeping with the tone of this film's guiding interpretation of the play, a bit dark. The jester and the butler are more crassly scheming than jocular. Caliban's sincerity, even if fueled by wine, is patent.

On page, stage, and screen, Ferdinand has little scope for development of character or inner wrestling. It is already clear when Prospero/a tasks him, that he will pass the test. Or do you see him differently?

The film did not do well with critics, I read (I was teaching in China when it came out), who thought it has too much music and too many special effects, that distract from Shakespeare's fluency. I thought it worked OK. This is Goodreads, where everyone is a critic; what do you think?

As a (semi-)retired academician, I am always drawn to consider the two characters in "The Tempest" that most approximate my background. In this film, Tom Conti's Gonzalo, attired as a Renaissance professor, is pure-hearted and idealistic. I aspire to be that (though too often fall short). And, of course, I wish to resonate with Prospero/a. I don't expect to ever walk the boards (I am more likely to walk the plank), but I would love to build my own complex version of our protagonist.

Janice compares Prospero's "magical manipulations of who loves whom" to "A Midsummer Night's Dream's" Puck. I see Puck as little more than a comic figure; and Janice goes on to well express how Prospero is a fully human character, "heartfelt, but cruel, thoughtful, but manipulative."

Thanks, Christine, for your observation that Prospero has been compared to John Dee (1527-1608 or 1609), an English mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, and occultist, and adviser to Queen Elizabeth I. I did not know that. Moving in royal circles, at least to the extent of supplying entertainment, it is quite possible Shakespeare knew of him. But then, at the time, there may have been comparatively many such relics from the Medieval mash-up of science, philosophy, and metaphysics.

Of the characters, I would find Ariel hardest to decide how to play. He/she/it is not human, but must be believable. A willing servant, or a reluctant one? Does Ariel develop feelings for the characters he is sent to influence?

What character in "The Tempest" would you like to play, and why?

In Act 2, our story that started with a storm moves into more Sturm und Drang - in the Romantic literary sense (a tale of emotion and individual subjectivity set in an exotic locale), in political intrigue, and in the psychological challenges confronting the characters.

message 41: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
"Martin writes, for example, that ‘overconsumption [of wood] created early modern England’s most urgent environmental problem: deforestation’.49
Prospero’s obsession with wood
At the time when Shakespeare wrote As You Like It and made Rosalind announce, ‘Well, this is the Forest of Arden’ (II.4.13), on theatre stages in London, it marked the beginning of what Arden-editor Juliet Dusinberre sees as the mythologizing of the Forest of Arden ‘into a vast tree which casts shadows over other cultures and other times’. Ironically, at the same time the real Forest of Arden outside Stratford was gradually disappearing. ‘[It] was already much diminished by the later Middle Ages, yet fragments of it survived, and still survive, in some woodlands close to Stratford’, writes Penguin-editor Katherine Duncan-Jones. ‘By the time Shakespeare wandered through the Forest of Arden, the woods themselves were steadily being reduced by the demand for timber in building new houses’, writes Shakespeare- biographer Peter Ackroyd."

message 42: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
"David Lindley observes ‘Prospero’s unwillingness “to fetch his own wood”’ (Lindley, p. 7, n. 1), and even though there are stray comments like this in critical works, there are few attempts to consider the question about the deeper significance of all the wooden imagery in The Tempest. Commentators such as the Arden editors tend to regard the ‘wooden slavery’ as representing any kind of manual labour or slave work, and Prospero’s need for firewood is the focus in Lindley’s New Cambridge-edition. But they both fail to explain the question of why it has to be wood and why such a huge amount of it. Why does not Prospero get his slaves to collect stone, to gather food, or to build something useful, like a hut or a raft? Would there be all this emphasis on collecting wood in The Tempest if Prospero had needed it for something as mundane as ‘heating and cooking’, as suggested by Vaughan and Vaughan (see below)? Gabriel Egan refreshingly probes deeper into the question of what Prospero plans to use all the wood for. He lives in a cave, still, after twelve years on the island (I.2.53-55), why does he not build a house?56 He is stranded on an island against his will, why does he not use the wood to build a boat or a raft of some sort? Besides, with access to spirits such as Ariel, who can help him perform magic and control the weather, it hardly seems necessary to collect wooden material for use in any kind of manual labour. Might he not have gotten everything he wanted by magic, the kind of magic with which he boasts he ‘rifted Jove’s stout oak | With his own bolt’ (V.1.45-46), and ‘by the spurs [i.e. roots] plucked up | The pine and cedar’ (V.1.47-48)? Prospero’s boasting about his violent destruction of oaks, pines, and cedars seems to imply that the island was more forested before he arrived. Moreover, we may see a parallel between the fictional worlds of Shakespeare and Tolkien here. Caliban’s reminder to Prospero about the time when he first came to the island, when Caliban ‘showed [him] all the qualities o’th’isle: | The fresh springs, brine pits, barren place and fertile | Cursed be that I did so!’ (I.2.338-40), appears to foreshadow the way in which Tolkien’s character Treebeard reveals all the secrets of the forest to the wizard Saruman only to regret it when Saruman starts felling trees: ‘I told him many things that he would never have found out by himself; but he never repaid me in like kind [...] [Saruman] does not care for growing things, except as far as they serve him for the moment’.57 When Prospero plucks up the trees by their roots, Gabriel Egan notices the contrast between these whole trees that Prospero is magically pulling out of the earth, and the wooden logs carried by Caliban and Ferdinand. Egan is right about Ferdinand, but in the case of Caliban, what he is carrying is only referred to as ‘wood’, which is closer to raw material than a ‘log’ is. It takes an axe or a saw to make logs, and although the process from trees to pieces of wood, and then to logs, goes unexplained in the play, it clearly seems more suitable for a ‘savage and deformed slave’, as he is described in the ‘list of roles’, to do the dirty work of clearing up Prospero’s tree mess, and then for the son of the King of Naples to do the comparatively easier work of bringing the finished logs to his cave.58 The most obvious answer to the question of what the wood is needed for, as already hinted at, is firewood, and this is suggested by Miranda when she comforts the log-bearing prince Ferdinand with a personification: ‘When this burns | ‘Twill weep for having wearied you’ (III.1.19-20). Vaughan and Vaughan observe in a note for stage direction III."

message 43: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
"‘presumably for heating or cooking’, and David Lindley takes it for granted that Caliban is fetching ‘fuel’ (Lindley, p. 10). If the cave had been a mine that held precious metals Prospero would have needed enormous quantities of wood for heating up the rock, but there are no indications of such an activity in the play. Vaughan and Vaughan consider the possibility that Prospero is some kind of alchemist and suggest that the firewood might be ‘for creating an alchemical boil’ in their note to III.1. Ben Jonson’s comedy The Alchemist (1610) certainly indicates that there was an interest in alchemy at the time. If Prospero had built himself a house, he might at least have had several fireplaces in which to consume his wooden logs. In fact, the latter part of the sixteenth century saw an increase in the size of houses in Shakespeare’s own Stratford-upon-Avon, writes Randall Martin, without relating this to The Tempest, but to another of Shakespeare’s plays. Bigger houses meant more fireplaces: ‘Multiple fireplaces in rebuilt and expanded houses used greater quantities of wood’, and together with the use of enormous quantities of wood in glass- and iron making at the time, there emerged a problem of overconsumption (Martin, p. 16). ‘Overconsumption’, Martin concludes, ‘created early modern England’s most urgent environmental problem: deforestation’. Regardless of what he needs the wood for, Prospero’s obsession with wood certainly borders on overconsumption. Egan suggests that the point about the ‘recurrent arboreal imagery’ in The Tempest is that ‘Prospero’s main activity since his arrival on the island has been its deforestation’ (Egan, p. 155).59 An historical precedent that springs to mind is how overconsumption of wood allegedly led to deforestation and the consequent end of an entire civilization on Easter Island. The best-selling author Jared Diamond has written: ‘In just a few centuries, the people of Easter Island wiped out their forest, drove their plants and animals to extinction, and saw their complex society spiral into chaos and cannibalism. Are we about to follow their lead?"

message 44: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
"Egan draws attention to a rhetorical device that may suggest that deforestation has in fact been Prospero’s intention all along, as an end in its own right, which means that the question of what he needs all the wood for becomes less important. I will support this claim by drawing attention to a play not discussed by Egan, but which makes much use of the same tree- and plant imagery that Egan finds in The Tempest. Early in Macbeth, when the future ruler of Scotland is made new Thane of Cawdor by King Duncan, the King says to him: ‘Welcome hither. | I have begun to plant thee, and will labour | To make thee full of growing’ (Macbeth, I.4.27-29). When the King says to Macbeth’s loyal friend Banquo, that he will ‘enfold thee | And hold thee to my heart’ (I.4.31-32), Banquo answers that he will ‘grow’ in the King’s heart (I.4.32), and leave ‘the harvest’ to the King (I.4.33). When Banquo asks the three witches to predict his future, he tells them to ‘look into the seeds of time, | And say which grain will grow, and which will not’ (I.3.58-59). Towards the end, when Malcolm prepares to overthrow Macbeth, he considers that ‘Macbeth | Is ripe for shaking’ (IV.3.240-41), evoking an autumn tree grown to size, full of ripe fruit. Macbeth’s own reflections when the end is drawing near return us to the first quote, in which he was ‘planted’ by King Duncan, but now he is to be cut down before his time, dry and withered, before he has acquired the yellow leaves of autumn, ‘I have lived long enough: my way of life | Is fallen into the sere, the yellow leaf, [...] I must not look to have’ (V.3.22-26). In The Tempest, Egan finds references to what he calls ‘the familiar image of a monarch as a tree’ (Egan, p. 155) in Prospero’s description of his usurping brother Antonio as ‘[t]he ivy which had hid my princely trunk | And sucked my verdure out on’t’ (I.2.86-87). It should be added here that the ivy encircling an elm was as familiar an image as Egan suggests about the monarch as a tree, most commonly used to symbolize love and marriage. Shakespeare used it in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, for example, when the infatuated ‘female ivy’, Titania, folds herself around the ‘barky fingers’ of ‘the elm’, which is Bottom (IV.1.42-43)

message 45: by Candy (last edited Jun 26, 2018 11:33PM) (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
I have copied a few paragraphs from aMasters Thesis online exploring trees in Shakespeare (and Tolkien and Atwood)

I remember several of us tried to figure out what all the trees and gathering trees was about in THE TEMPEST. It's a motif that still haunts me...and I was very pleased to find this essay and see some writing about this topic and motif.

message 46: by Christine (new)

Christine | 434 comments Very interesting observations about the trees!

In many of the analyses of whether or not 'Shakespeare really wrote Shakespeare' the point has been reiterated that Shakespeare (the man from Stratford) must really BE Shakespeare the poet, for the mere reason that SO MANY of his themes have to do with nature. Some scholars insist that he would never have used so many references to trees, plants, seeds, animals, etc. if he had not grown up close to them, as a country boy.

Still, it never occurred to me how much of a presence the timber has in The Tempest! Surely this is a correlation with the building of houses, etc. Would Elizabethans have known or worried about conservation? But S was always ahead of his time, drawing weirdly upon themes and ideas that would haunt future generations...

Even though Prospero is magical, he has human qualities and relies on human labor. That contributes to the intrigue of the play. (If Prospero could just snap his fingers and get the dukedom back, where would the story be, haha!)

message 47: by Christine (last edited Jun 27, 2018 09:13PM) (new)

Christine | 434 comments Tom wrote: "Thanks, Christine, for your observation that Prospero has been compared to John Dee (1527-1608 or 1609), an English mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, and occultist, and adviser to Queen Elizabeth I. I did not know that. ..."

You're welcome! John Dee is one of my Elizabethan obsessions! The comparison is often made, and the CST production of The Tempest talked a lot about this.

We have no real evidence (as far as I know) that Shakespeare ever met the Queen, or John Dee. However, the plays were sometimes performed at court for the Queen and royal circles only, so maybe they would have requested to meet the playwright... who knows?

It was a time of great discovery, metaphysics and speculation. Apparently, Queen Elizabeth never made a move without questioning John Dee about astrological aspects. Supposedly, he told her of favorable aspects when she defeated the Spanish Armada. The Tempest was a later play, probably more in the Jacobean era, but still the belief in magic was strong. King James I was also very superstitious.

message 48: by Christine (new)

Christine | 434 comments Tom wrote: "What character in "The Tempest" would you like to play, and why?..."

I think it would be great fun to play Ariel! He gets to fly around, be invisible and do all kinds of cool stuff! Besides that, it would be interesting to bring to stage a being that is not quite human.

message 49: by Candy (last edited Jun 28, 2018 03:02PM) (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
Hi Christine,

Yes, England wa aware of its dangerous deforestations. England had to try to coal because they had damaged their forests so severely.

I often mention during these depressing Europe was for me to visit in some ways. Coming from Canada...and particularly from the pacific northwest rainforest....where nature is on steroids...Europe was depressing. Europeans killed all their animals and cut down all their trees. It is very disturbing. I remember walking around and people being in awe of buildings that were a thousand years old and thinking..."big deal we have living beings that are older than that"

I will amend that I was a bit of an anarchist environmentalist all of my life LOL

Here is an AMERICAN SCIENTIFIC article form 1977....very interesting stuff...

"In Britain the period of the onset and resolution of the energy crisis (1550- 1700) was characterized by increased returns from labor in all kinds of production."

message 50: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
“It is inevitable and unavoidable in thinking of Prospero to bring in the name of John Dee, the great mathematical magus of whom Shakespeare must have known, the teacher of Philip Sidney, and deeply in the confidence of Queen Elizabeth I. In his famous preface to Euclid of 1570, which became the Bible of the rising generations of Elizabethan scientists and mathematicians, Dee sets out, following Agrippa, the theory of the three worlds, emphasizing, as does Agrippa, that through all the three worlds there runs, as the connecting link, number . . . .

“Dee was in his own right a brilliant mathematician, and he related his study of number to the three worlds of the Cabalists. In the lower elemental world, he studied number as technology and applied science. In the celestial world his study of number was related to astrology and alchemy. And in the supercelestial world, Dee believed that he had found the secret of conjuring spirits by numerical computations in the tradition of Trichtemius and Agrippa. Dee’s type of science can be classified as ‘Rosicrucian,’ using the word . . . to designate a stage in the history of the magico-scientific tradition which is intermediate between the Renaissance and the seventeenth century.” Yates goes on to suggest that “Prospero represents precisely that Rosicrucian stage. We see him as a conjuror in the play, but the knowledge of such a Dee-like figure would have included mathematics developing into science, and particularly the science of navigation in which Dee was proficient and in which he instructed the great mariners of the Elizabethan age.”

Francis Yates

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