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Group Readings > The Tempest, Act 3, June June 27-July 3

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message 1: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
Discussion of Act 3 and such continues here.


message 2: by JimF (new)

JimF | 219 comments Log in The Tempest is a (bawdy) riddle, more complex than tree and wood.

How big a log can Miranda bear for Ferdinand?
I must remove
Some thousands of these Logs, and pile them up,
Upon a sore injunction; . . .

If you'll sit down,
I'll bear your Logs the while: pray give me that,
I'll carry it to the pile.

No, precious Creature,
I had rather crack my sinews, break my back,
Than you should such dishonour undergo,
While I sit lazy by.

It would become me
As well as it does you; and I should do it
With much more ease: for my good will is to it,
And yours it is against.

Poor worm, thou art infected,
This visitation shows it.
"Poor worm" provides the hint. Log can be a dialogue form or a variant of lug (OED). Lug is a large marine worm (Arenicola marina) which burrows in the sands of our coasts and is much used for bait (OED):
1602 Carew Cornwall 34.b. The Lugg is a worme resembling the Tag-worme or Angle-touch, and lying in the ose somewhat deepe, from whence the women digge them vp, and sell them to the Fishermen.
It'll be easier for this dialogue (especially for Miranda), if we interpret log as lug, a worm in the sands.

message 3: by Candy (last edited Jun 28, 2018 03:12PM) (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
I know in some discussions at Goodreads we had a lot of humour associated with the double entendre of log, wood, timber.

message 4: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) Reading this act, I gave it a 50-50 chance that S was pulling our leg and using so much wood and logs as double entrendres.

message 5: by Tom (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments All hail, ye King's Companie of Readers.

"The Tempest" could be re-titled, or have as a second title line, "Prospero: The Comeback Kid." It is the tale of how a dispossessed duke regains his seat, and, concomitant with that, sees to his daughter's future.

Prospero captures his objective with a pincer movement. One tack is to marry his daughter to the heir to the throne of Naples, whose current king is confederate with the usurper of his dukedom. The other is to more directly manipulate the usurper's supporters. Toss in an additional subplot, not necessarily gratuitous as it reveals aspects of Prospero's personality: that of Caliban's yearning to regain his own dominion over Fantasy Island. Thus we have three subplots.

In Act 3, all three subplots intensify. Scene 1 develops the growing Milan-Naples axis under Prospero's direction, the Miranda-Ferdinand connection. Scene 2 sees Caliban plan the death of his former master Prospero. Scene 3 has further shaking-up of the Milanese and Neopolitan courts.

Here is Act 3 condensed.



Ferdinand: My love makes my mean labors pleasures. She's ten times as cool as her dad is a dick.
Miranda: Take a break. Dad's hitting the books for the next three hours, so he won't notice. [How does she know how long he will be "hard at study" - spying on people, really. Did he tell her? We must keep to the play's time factor.]
Ferdinand: Gotta get it done before sundown. [Ah, that time factor thingy.]
Miranda: Let me help.
Ferdinand: "No, precious creature," you are too good for this. Actually, because I am a prince, it's beneath me, too, except to win you. BTW, what's your name? ("Hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name...")
Miranda: Miranda. Oops, I'm not supposed to tell.
Ferdinand: I've had a boatload of chicks before, but you're the top.
Prospero: That boy has a serious case of the love-bug. Just what I want.


Stephano: Caliban, I make you my lieutenant.
Caliban: But I won't serve that Trinculo dude. He has no honor.
Trinculo, with Ariel sometimes saying it in Trinculo's voice: (Several times.) You "lie like dogs."
Stephano: You insult my right-hand-monster. Have at you. (Physical humor ensues.)
Caliban: My former tyrant master took over this island because he has sorcerer powers. Let's nick his books, and then he will be powerless. [But wouldn't Prospero have memorized some magic spells?] Then we can kill him when he takes his afternoon nap.
Stephano: I will be king of the island, and will steal his daughter as my queen.
Ariel: I'd better alert my master to this. (Enticing music.)
Stephano: What's that sound?
Caliban: Pay no mind. The island is full of funky noises.
Trinculo: Let's follow it all the same. For no apparent reason.


Gonzalo: This old guy needs to rest.
Alonso: Me, too. I am weary of mind. I've given up hope for Ferdinand. He's drowned; we may as well give up looking for him.
Antonio and Sebastian: They're tired, depressed, and off their guard. We'll try again to kill them.
Alonso and Gonzalo: What's that wonderful music?
Sebastian: Wow. Spirits.
Gonzalo: It's the inidgenous inhabitants of the island. They have good manners, just like I said of natives in my speech back in Act 2. But they'll never believe this back home.
Francisco: "They vanished strangely."
Sebastian: Who cares. They left munchies. Let's chow.
Alonso: "The best is past." This is my last meal.
Ariel: You guys suck.
Alonso: OMG. The harpy's got my number.
Gonzalo: No shit.
Prospero: "They now are in my power."
Sebastian and Antonio: We will fight off these fiends.

In Act 3 we have the scene with Ferdinand hauling and piling up wood. There is a nice compare-and-contrast with Caliban. Caliban wound up doing menial chores for Prospero as a punishment for his advance to Miranda. Ferdinand undertakes it willingly, to prove a worthy son-in-law.

We have had some interchange about Prospero's seeming obsession with wood. Was it in the context of deforestation of Britain? That is a possibility. But collecting firewood was an occupation for a slave (or peasant). I think of Joshua making the Gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the Israelites (Joshua 9). Caliban did other chores: fishing, washing dishes (Act 2 Scene 2 lines 176-178). The wood-gathering task would have been visually catchy to display on the stage - more entertaining than if Caliban and Ferdinand had been washing up the tableware after supper.

A tip of the hat to Candy for the link to the article about how deforestation in England led to the use of coal and so helped trigger Industrial Revolution Round 1. (Round 2 was the widespread introduction of electricity, though that energy was often generated by coal-fired steam turbines.) I am fascinated by the steam revolution, boilers and pistons and doohickeys that whirl and gurgle. I love riding vintage steam railroads. In China I rode a narrow-gauge coal-powered line that not only carries tourists, but is an actual working road serving its hilly Sichuan coal-mining district. China has abundant coal, and is making the most of it, "climate accords" notwithstanding. The barbecues at the outdoor cafes by my university were fueled, not with charcoal, but with raw coal; as was the university's power plant (I popped in one afternoon and the technicians showed me around). There is a quaintness, as seen today, anyway, to that Victorian age of steam. Steampunk is one of my favorite genres in manga and anime. Some artist and musician friends in Chengdu (the capital city of Sichuan Province) operate an inn called the Steam Hostel, with steampunk decor theme, where we would often gather to chat, play foosball, chain smoke, and drink absinthe.

Candy has introduced us to Rune Tveitstul Jensen's master's thesis, "The Role of Trees in Shakespeare, Tolkien, and Atwood" (University of Oslo, spring 2016), available online. We have talked about the nature of Ariel, and Jensen makes a comment in that regard. He suggests that Ariel was akin to spirits of the woods. If Ariel were a spirit of fire or air, Jensen says, he could have, respectively, burned up the tree in which Sycorax had confined him, or could have "vanished into thin air" (pp. 25f.). I see it the other way around. It was because Ariel was not of the wood element, that it could be used against him.

As for the numerous possible erotic double-meanings of logs &etc., I won't touch them with a ten-foot woody...oh, I guess I just did.

message 6: by Tom (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments Good point, Tim, that Caliban is tipsy when he proclaims his freedom. And presumably also when he subsequently arranges with his drinking buddies to whack Prospero. Honsou's Claiban in the 2010 film of "The Tempest" portrays Caliban as more in control when he does so, speaking deliberatively and cogently. I like the intensity of his Caliban; but, you're right, Caliban at that point in the story would have been reeling.

I agree with James: what fun to be marooned on an island with a cask of wine and boon companions. And a facsimile of the First Folio. (Hey, if Prospero could beach up on the island with his occult books, thanks to Gonzalo, why not?)

Prospero's triumphant line, "They now are in my power," in Act 3 Scene 3, raises some interesting issues. First, how he exercises power over the people on the island. And, second, how he gets his "powers," the magical ones, that is.

In Renaissance Europe - though in time Enlightenment thought and revolutions would alter this - there would have been quite a network of class and hierarchy: royalty over subjects, masters over servants, fathers over children. Prospero operates in such relationships. He treats Miranda tenderly, though disposes of her destiny. He treats Caliban with contempt. His interaction with Ariel is more complex. And characters do buck against their stations. Antonio and Alonso overthrow Prospero. Antonio and Sebastian try to assassinate Alonso and Gonzalo. Both of those matters, though, are probably typical behavior within the same, the upper, social class, not an uprising of underlings. More to the point, Caliban challenges Prospero's lordship of the island. Ariel wants freedom.

How much power does Prospero exercise over Miranda? To me he pretty much calls the shots for her. Does Miranda have agency of her own?

How much is Prospero's relationship with Ariel one of coercion, taking advantage of Ariel's sense of indebtedness to Prospero for releasing him from Sycorax's imprisonment? Or are they a bit of a collaboration? Looking ahead to Ariel's asking, "Do you love me, master?" (Act 4 Scene 1 line 48), is the question plaintive, sincere, or ironic? As the story, and Ariel's service, draws to a close, Prospero tells Ariel, "I shall miss thee, But yet thou shalt have freedom," and then he seems to ponder their parting with sadness: "- So, so, so. -" (Act 5 Scene 1 lines 95-96).

Is Prospero himself a free agent, or constrained by his past? Is he a victim? Is he in some sense, for example, neglecting the administration of his duchy and passing it to Antonio, the cause of his own distress? Does his treatment of Caliban and orchestration of the island's drama make him, if not quite a villain, a less likable figure?

Prospero's power over others is partly psychological, but principally rests upon his magical power. Prospero's magical power, and Faust's, seems to consist largely in their connection with other beings. Prospero does have some powers he exercises directly: putting Miranda to sleep (Act 1 Scene 2; as Ariel does with the party in Act 2 Scene 1), making Ferdinand's sword too heavy to wield (Act 1 Scene 2; as does Ariel with the party's swords here in Act 3 Scene 3), apparently conjuring the storm in concert with Ariel, seeing the future. But his magic is an art learned from occult books. He uses material accouterments, a robe and a staff. Books, robe, and staff are also accessories that would convey an aura of authority. His magic is not inherent, as with the magical folk of the Harry Potter universe; though Harry, Ron, and Hermione need training to be able to properly utilize their capabilities. Nor as with Merlin in the King Arthur stories, who seems to be able to do what he does because of who he is, mystically in connection with nature around him. (Just for fun, there is in the anthropology of religions a distinction between the shaman, whose power comes from personal communication with the spirit world, and the witch - here the word is used a bit differently than in Potter world - whose power comes from spells, chemicals, objects, and artifice.)

Janice had an insightful comment about power, agency, and freedom, with Caliban as an example (from Act 2). If Caliban could chose a master, he has been less bound to Prospero than he imagined. Could he then chose to have no master? And in a larger sense, how much is the play itself about freedom?

Prospero's magic is not all-powerful. He needs the help of Ariel, and of lesser spirits. e.g., in producing the illusory feast. I am struck that Caliban suggests that without the books to know what to do, Prospero could not command spirits, and that the spirits themselves "do hate him" (Act 3 Scene 2 lines 92-95). Would that include Ariel?

Larger outside forces also play a significant part in Prospero's life. It is "providence divine" that moves Gonzalo to outfit Prospero and Miranda with what they need to make it to the island (Act 1 Scene 2 lines159-168). (Though Gonzalo's own kindly and wise character, seen throughout the play, can sufficiently account for his action, without invoking deity.) It is "bountiful fortune" that his enemies have come near the island, and "a most auspicious star" (astrological alignment) that gives Prospero "prescience" to know that is happening (Act 1 Scene 1 lines 178-284). Hmm, here we come to that question of freewill-or-no again. Prospero relies on Caliban for labor; or maybe just uses contrived labor to punish Caliban, along with the apparently magically-induced aches and pains Caliban suffers. Abusing Caliban would explain why Prospero seems to require an excessive amount of wood. But as Christine well says, "If Prospero could just snap his fingers and get the dukedom back, where would the story be, haha!"

The disappearing banquet episode and Ariel's berating of the treacherous court in Scene 3 are a turning point. Alonso is remorseful (though Antonio and Sebastian are unrepentant). But why is there a disappearing banquet? Couldn't Ariel, or Prospero himself, simply appear and give the J'accuse! speech and achieve the same result? What do you think?

My guess is that the banquet symbolized the good things that come with being a king or duke, or even the good things in life in general; but that they are fleeting and not to be grasped. As, for instance, Alonso has, so he thinks, lost his son. It's a bit of a Buddhist-style message.

The banquet scene gives a chance for some exciting staging. I like the stage direction, "with a quaint device the banquet vanishes." Perhaps part of the point of the banquet is that it provided its original audiences some extra entertainment via the "special effects" of the day.

message 7: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel | 180 comments Very helpful, Tom. Clearly the magic books are necessary (though perhaps not sufficient) to Prospero's power, which is why Gonzalopacked them with him when he reluctantly put him and Miranda to sea. Also the renunciation of power involves 'drowning' the books. It does feel to me that this is to do with Shakespeare's own sense of loss of imaginative power, and perhaps also isolation and lack of power in the real world. I find The Tempest much less powerful than most of the other plays, precisely because Prospero, in his relative isolation, can simply make things happen (up to a point). The isolation and the magic powers limited to a small island feel to me like very little imaginative power compared with the ability to depict major political dramas in many of the other plays. Prospero seems to me to be a portrait of frustration, and the long narrated, but not dramatised, backstory at the beginning feels like dramatic energy ebbing, as does the very similar early section of Henry VIII (also a very late play). Shakespeare's rulers have much more vitality when they have real opponents that they can't simply play around with at will.

message 8: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) First of all, I want to be clear here that in no way whatsoever am I going to moderate Midsummer Night's Dream with the same perspacity, patience, and dedication as Tom. Just want to make sure the expectations are reined in here.

I think Gabriel is correct in seeing that Prospero's power is ebbing, and this may be the point, for S became more and more concerned about his abilities, and about aging, as time went on... this becomes very obvious in his sonnets. But I think Prospero is just as powerful a characterization as his other rulers. Holding on to illusions of power as we age can sabotage, and letting go of the power - the vital energy Gabriel speaks of - can feel like a death of self. Prospero tries to convince himself of his power by using magic, which is like a game now, because his actual power has waned.

Prospero's hold on Caliban and Ariel needs to be constantly reminded and renewed, as if maybe Prospero knows he has only fooled them into servitude with his threats and punishments. After all, tho' Caliban complains, he doffs his old master for a new one like a piece of clothing. As for Ariel, I get the feeling that Ariel is more dependent on Prospero for function than he/she/they is enslaved by him. Otherwise, what would Ariel do, what purpose or reason do these spirits have for existing? So yes, Ariel and Prospero may have a more symbiotic relationship.

message 9: by Christine (new)

Christine | 434 comments Tom wrote: "If Ariel were a spirit of fire or air, Jensen says, he could have, respectively, burned up the tree in which Sycorax had confined him, or could have "vanished into thin air" (pp. 25f.). I see it the other way around. It was because Ariel was not of the wood element, that it could be used against him...."

That is how I see it too. I always thought of Ariel as an air spirit. Mythology is full of tree sprites and dryads that live in trees as their natural habitat, not to be imprisoned in them.

It is interesting that Shakespeare chose the tree. In relation to all the other references to wood and considering the society's heavy dependence upon lumber, I wonder if S makes a statement here about humans being a 'prisoner' of the wood itself?

message 10: by JimF (new)

JimF | 219 comments Christine wrote: "It is interesting that Shakespeare chose the tree."

This is a complex riddle.

Sycorax confined Ariel in a pine tree. Prospero releases Ariel, but Ariel must serve Prospero, else Prospero will “peg” Ariel in an oak.

Why pine and oak?
it was mine Art,
When I arrived, and heard thee, that made gape
The Pine, and let thee out.

I thank thee, Master.

If thou more murmur’st, I will rend an Oak
And peg-thee in his knotty entrails, till
Thou hast howled away twelve winters.

Pine has the definition of punishment, suffering, torment. Oak is a holy wood; “rend an Oak” can make an Ark (by spelling). Prospero’s Art and Oak also make an Ark.

“Make thee an ark of gopher wood” (Gen. 6:14 KJV 1611).
“Make thee an Ark of pine trees” (Gen. 6:14 Geneva 1599).
“Make thee an Arke of Pine trees” (Gen. 6:14 Holy Bible 1568).
“Make thee an Arke of pine trees” (Gen. 6:14 Geneva 1560).


To peg is to fix with a pin; tree has the definition of the cross on which Christ was crucified. Peg-thee hints at Christ’s death, so that the resurrection can happen.

The hyphen in peg-thee can be a printer’s error, or a hint to split Christopher to Christ-opher. To peg Christ-opher, i.e., peg-thee, with letter g will get gopher.

The word peg appears four times in the First Folio. Shakespeare can be spelt from “peg-thee” and “knotty entrails.”

The Birth of Adonis

Adonis was the child of a father (Cinyras) and his daughter (Myrrha). He was emerged from a myrrh tree; “murmur” sounds like myrrh-myrrh.

Prospero (a father) to let Ariel out from a tree signifies a new life for Ariel, and the rebirth of Christopher Marlowe after his fake death. Shakespeare is Marlowe’s Ark.

As You Like It has the same design. The word Ark appears only once in the First Folio:
There is sure another flood toward,
and these couples are coming to the Ark.
Rosalinde needs letter M to spell Mary Sidney; her alias Ganimed needs letter R to spell anagram. Shakespeare is Wilton House poets’ Ark.

Prospero-Miranda can spell Mary Sidney.

message 11: by Tom (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments TIME TO "PLAY" OUTDOORS

Arc Theatre will perform "The Merry Wives of Windsor" this Saturday, July 21, 7:00 p.m., at Ridgeview Park in Evanston, Illinois. That is at Ridge Avenue and South Boulevard. It is a short walk from the Chicago Transit Authority Purple Line train station at South Boulevard.

It's free.

Come join me! Look for the short guy with brown and gray hair wearing wire-rim glasses. Pack a snack, and bring a blanket or folding chair if you like. I generally just sit on the grass.

In case of rain, same place and time the next evening, Sunday.

You can contact me directly if you like, to be sure we find each other at the play. Email:, cell phone 872-808-4950. If you call and I do not pick up, do leave a message. I am often at a concert, in the library (duh), at a play (more duh), or serving as docent at Chicago's Field Museum, and have the ring tone turned off at those times.

message 12: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda Elliot (lucindaelliot) | 583 comments *Tom* That updated version of Shakespeare is hilarious.
I have just finished Act IV.
Naive question from me. What do Antonio and Sebastian exactly hope to gain by plotting against the King of Naples and killing him off? None of them will have much status on a desert island., anyway.
We can see why Caliban plots to overthrow Prospero. He has a grudge. But S and T don't. S then, is quite happy to be a tyrant over a tiny population.
It just occured to me - did Golding in 'Lord of the Flies' have the schemings and murder of 'The Tempest' in mind even though it was meant to be an ironic comment on Balllantyne's 'Coral Island'.

message 13: by Tom (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments Hail, Lucinda & Shakespearians,

Antonio already occupies an ill-gotten dukedom. All he has to gain is not having to pay off Alonso anymore for an alliance, as Sebastian promises to suspend that arrangement in exchange for Antonio's help in killing off Alonso and Gonzalo. Thus there will be more in Milan's treasury for other purposes (such as Antonio's own comforts). Sebastian, though, will ascend to a kingship, on the presumption, which he states, that the lesser lords will go along with anything. Since Antonio and Sebastian are, as far as they know, stranded indefinitely on the island, the conspiracy does appear pointless. The scheme, though, may be a case of "what goes around comes around" for Alonso, a dramatic parallelism.

Does Antonio's and Sebastian's murder pact sound like the murder "exchange" idea in "Strangers on a Train"?

I did a little web browsing for possible references by Golding to "The Tempest," but didn't come up with anything. However, Shakespeare was no doubt part of Golding's education, as well as in the atmosphere of Britain, and Golding did teach English. You may be onto something.

message 14: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda Elliot (lucindaelliot) | 583 comments Thanks, Tom. It is interesting about the pointlessness of the conspiracy of Antonio and Sebastian. And who knows: maybe Patricia Highsmith borrowed the idea from here for 'Strangers on a Train' or it may have been an unconscious influence, for her and for Golding?
In fact, both Antonio and Sebastian laugh at G and Adrian's continuing to behave like courtiers - but they are doing the same thing, in their political intrigues, but in a dastardly way.
I suppose the other consipracy - of the drunken Stephano and Caliban, with T the jester going along with it cynically, adds comedy while providing a 'low life' parallel.
I see what you mean about 'drmatic parallelism' in the plot echoing what Alonso winked at himself.
I don't know if Prospero ever gets round to admitting that perhaps he shouldn't have wholly neglected his temporal duties in pursuit of esoteric learning. I may be falling over backwards to excuse the Villain of the Piece, but it seems to me that he laid temptation in Antonio's way by being too trusting...

message 15: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
Tom wrote: "Good point, Tim, that Caliban is tipsy when he proclaims his freedom. And presumably also when he subsequently arranges with his drinking buddies to whack Prospero. Honsou's Claiban in the 2010 fil..."

Tom, I believe that Caliban tells us how Prospero got power over him....through defining time. The plays title reminds us this is a time-centric, temporal, obsessed work. All art is time-based. One painting is a "still" from life...a moment in time. A movie is 24 frames per second....and a play is locked into being performed within a time period. All art is about time. And Prospero's control over Caliban....and most magicians would agree that time is their tool....he controls Caliban by teaching him to recognize the sun and the moon as time keepers.

In the discussion of Act 2....I quoted Ullyses explaining why the war could not control the opposite camp....because there is something that is stronger than armory


Troy, yet upon his basis, had been down,
And the great Hector's sword had lack'd a master,
But for these instances.
The specialty of rule hath been neglected:
And, look, how many Grecian tents do stand
Hollow upon this plain, so many hollow factions.
When that the general is not like the hive
To whom the foragers shall all repair,
What honey is expected? Degree being vizarded,
The unworthiest shows as fairly in the mask.
The heavens themselves, the planets and this centre
Observe degree, priority and place,
Insisture, course, proportion, season, form,
Office and custom, in all line of order;
And therefore is the glorious planet Sol
In noble eminence enthroned and sphered
Amidst the other; whose medicinable eye
Corrects the ill aspects of planets evil,
And posts, like the commandment of a king,
Sans cheque to good and bad: but when the planets
In evil mixture to disorder wander,
What plagues and what portents! what mutiny!
What raging of the sea! shaking of earth!
Commotion in the winds! frights, changes, horrors,
Divert and crack, rend and deracinate
The unity and married calm of states
Quite from their fixure! O, when degree is shaked,
Which is the ladder to all high designs,
Then enterprise is sick! How could communities,
Degrees in schools and brotherhoods in cities,
Peaceful commerce from dividable shores,
The primogenitive and due of birth,
Prerogative of age, crowns, sceptres, laurels,
But by degree, stand in authentic place?
Take but degree away, untune that string,
And, hark, what discord follows! each thing meets
In mere oppugnancy: the bounded waters
Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores
And make a sop of all this solid globe:
Strength should be lord of imbecility,
And the rude son should strike his father dead:
Force should be right; or rather, right and wrong,
Between whose endless jar justice resides,
Should lose their names, and so should justice too.
Then every thing includes itself in power,
Power into will, will into appetite;
And appetite, an universal wolf,
So doubly seconded with will and power,
Must make perforce an universal prey,
And last eat up himself. Great Agamemnon,
This chaos, when degree is suffocate,
Follows the choking.
And this neglection of degree it is
That by a pace goes backward, with a purpose
It hath to climb. The general's disdain'd
By him one step below, he by the next,
That next by him beneath; so every step,
Exampled by the first pace that is sick
Of his superior, grows to an envious fever
Of pale and bloodless emulation:
And 'tis this fever that keeps Troy on foot,
Not her own sinews. To end a tale of length,
Troy in our weakness stands, not in her strength.

Do we find this in THE TEMPEST?

message 16: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
Lucinda, although I may not be very good at explaining it....I feel there is something in this....of what you are saying about Prospero allowing Antonio to get away with things and giving him leeway and the tools to do so.

I think this is part of what I'm trying to think about here with Ullyses speech.

Is it a metaphor for the artist creating a piece of work (play, painting, music, poem, etc) that gets co-opted politically in ways that the artist never intended...?

message 17: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda Elliot (lucindaelliot) | 583 comments Now, that' s a fascinating take on it, Candy...

message 18: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
Lucinda, thank you for suggesting it was Miranda who taught Caliban about the moon. I want to find that section....because I got stuck on Caliban saying how Prospero taught him about sun and moon....which either way is about time.

With poetry....ideas can be co-opted so easily. As in all of art...political powers do try to use art for their own narrative.Theres two things at work with this...

Art can be a coded device (as Jim so clearly is demonstrating) and it can code politics, philosophy, and emotions and beliefs. Often a governmental entity does not see art is a great way to preserve and protect ethics and beliefs. However....some governmental entities...aware of the power in art to move and preserve emotions...will try to co-opt and censor art.

Is something along this line occurring within this play? Is Prospero all bad? I don't think so...I think we see Caliban and him as opposing forces because they are both victims of power.

I don't know....I'm thinking out loud here...and rambling....but it's part of trying to figure out...who is Prospero what are the themes here....if there are the codes Jim has pointed out....they hint at coding in general....which art already does for us.

message 19: by Tom (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments Hail, Fellowes of the King's Companie,

I hope you all are enjoying the summer. I'll have posts for Act 5 shortly.

Lucinda, it does seem Prospero is oblivious to his own lack of discernment in giving Antonio an opening to take over the government. I find no indication Prospero recognizes a mea culpa, or regards this as an extenuating circumstance for Antonio. He forgives his brother as though it were entirely the brother's fault (and having an opening to do something uncool isn't an exoneration of it, one can choose not to behave badly). I like the intensity of Act 5 Scene 1 lines 130 and following: "For you, most wicked sir, whom to call brother would even infect my mouth, I do forgive thy rankest fault," and BTW I expect my dukedom back.

Candy, I attributed Prospero's sway over Caliban to the "pinches," which seem to be a physical torment the spirits inflict on him (as per the beginning of Act 2 Scene 2), like those irritating biting flies that infest the Chicago lakefront in the middle of summer. I don't get, though, why Caliban wasn't tormented more when he gives his allegiance to Stephano. I took the mention of Prospero's teaching Caliban a sense of time-keeping to be like that of teaching him the (I assume) Italian language, just part of his being brought up to speed on Prospero's syllabus of what a civilized person needs to know (Act 1 Scene 2 lines 324-344 have the context). Conversely, though, Caliban showed Prospero - and later offers to do the same for his new master, Stephano, and hanger-on Trinculo (Act 2 Scene 2 lines 157-160) - the ins and outs of the island.

I am reminded of the lovely 1980 South African film, "The Gods Must be Crazy," in which a biologist is teamed with a Kalahari Bushman to defeat a terrorist kidnapping. The biological doctoral researcher employs the indigenous person as an ecological expert. That would be the relationship between the respective approaches to knowledge of Prospero and Caliban, but much happier. (I have used the film in my "Cross-Cultural Communication" college courses.)

There are, though, the mentions of Prospero's and Sycorax's powers over sun and moon, and other natural forces. I wonder if that relates to astrology? So the time allusions could be a synecdoche for magical power in general?

The play's plot takes place across three hours or so. Time definitely is on Shakespeare's mind here. But the circumscribed time for the action seems to be an artificial device, a nod, in this case, to an old Classical convention, which Mr. Bill did not follow most of the "time."

In thinking about art and power: I have just finished re-reading (I read it in high school a very long time ago) Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning." Frankl notes how one of the things that helped keep the concentration camp inmates humanized was art, specifically, staging theater for themselves. Compare to the use of film, speechifying, and public theater (the mass rallies) as a tool of the NSDAP.

Good discussion, folks.

message 20: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
Great reminder of the movie "The Gods Must Be Crazy"

Teaching perspectives on time-keeping....and language and society probably was seen as a "benefit" by people in Europe and by Christians. However....those people who had their sense of time dismissed, their language stolen from them....have been the documents to assimilation....and cultural genocide.

Programming other societies or cultures to a dominant seen on a spectrum. Good and tragic. Depending on what part of the spectrum.

message 21: by Tom (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments This afternoon I was sunning in Chicago's Lincoln Park. There at my "leisure" (yeah, it's a joke about time...rimshot), I reflected more about time as a method of control. I was maybe too dismissive in my first missive on the matter.

Astronomy has been called the first science, because so many ancient peoples looked to the sky, building remarkably accurate stone arrangements (and Central American observatories) to track solar and lunar movements. Knowing these was useful to assess the changes of seasons, so a community could predict the migrations of animals good for hunting, suitable times for planting and harvest, the flooding of the Nile with its subsequent spreading of fertile silt, the coming of the rains. In early Buddhist practice, wandering monks would not peregrinate during the monsoons, so not to damage tender plants in the fields, and, incidentally, earn the ire of the farmers who sustained them with their alms. Even today Theravada Buddhists in Chicago observe the "rains retreat," or "vassa" in Pali, their liturgical language, for special study and meditation. Astronomical events also signaled the times for religious festivals. Today, Jewish people continue to observe the ancient harvest festival of Sukkot (Exodus 34:22) according to a lunar calendar. In the Genesis 1 origins story, light is created (verses 3-5), and later congealed into sun and moon as time-keepers (verse 14-18). After the Flood, Yahweh promises that the seasons, seed-time and harvest, summer and winter, will not be disrupted again (Genesis 8:22).

The clock so controls modern life. I think of Frederick Taylor with stopwatch in hand doing his time and motion studies to increase industrial efficiency by treating workers as machines. His eventual legacy is the cubicle, which, ironically, was originally conceived as making an ergonomic space that would free office workers for creativity as well as productivity. See Nikil Saval, "Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace" (New York: Doubleday, 2014).

I once worked as an editor and department head for American Legal Publishing Corporation in downtown Cincinnati. One day several of us editors went out for lunch together. When we got back, the young operations manager took us to task for taking a two-hour lunch. In Europe this would have been no big deal; but for Americans, it is an infraction. What had happened, though, is that this was the day after the midnight time switch from summer Daylight Savings Time to autumn Standard Time, and the guy had not changed his own clock, therefore had misread our time away. More to the point, we were being monitored.

I recently "retired," but am active in arts, tutoring, and teaching meditation. One day I had two events I wanted to attend, that were scheduled at the same time. I was agonizing over which to go to. Then the thought struck me - it really made an impression - that I didn't have to do anything at all if I wished! A friend recently retired himself. One morning I was visiting him and his partner, when he decided to go back to bed for a nap, "Because I can!"

It is sad that many American elderly wither away mentally, socially, and physically in front of the TV once they no longer have their old job to structure and regulate their days and to supply them with an extrinsic purpose to their lives. I saw this with my own stepfather after he made the bad decision to quit his long-time career as a postal carrier. He was well-liked by the people on his route; but never cultivated any personal interests.

It is apt, Candy, that you cite commentary on the Trojan War (a kind of Greek civil war). The Renaissance was built on the Classics, and Mr. Bill makes so many references to Classical history and legends, as with the goddesses in the masque in Act 4. Indeed, Shakespeare has more Classical sources than Biblical. Interesting that the Trojan War was predicated on the times, making me think of a, yes, Biblical passage, Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens...a time for war and a time for peace" (New International Version). Also the idea that the war with Troy involved a disruption of cosmic order. There is an old idea among several Semitic and European peoples, as well as in Chinese philosophy, that there is a correspondence between the human moral/social/political situation and the reactions of nature.

message 22: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
Good thoughts shared Tom, enjoyed reading them.

I love the ecclesiastes and it has come up in a past somewhere...but I don't remember which play. Is there a segment of shakespeare that echoes "a time for everything under heaven"?

Here is an interesting note about ecclesiastes and Hamlet...

message 23: by Tom (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments What a detailed, compelling treatment of Hamlet and his Hebrew parallels. Thanks for the link. I had thought of Hamlet as vacillating, but the interpretation of his seeming inaction as a result of his wishing to be just, gives me a new perspective.

I can't think specifically of a play with the "time for everything" line or something like it; but now will be keeping an eye out.

I like the Pete Seeger song, "Turn! Turn! Turn!," using the words of Ecclesiastes 3 by way of King James' 1611 Bible translation, as performed by the Byrds 1965.

message 24: by Tom (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments An afterthought on the significance of time. Yoon Ha Lee has a military/space/sci-fi trilogy - everyone writes trilogies; sometimes a stand-alone would be a blessing, so a book has closure if one decides not to invest further in a series that doesn't seem it will be all that great - called "Machineries of Empire," the first installment of which, "Ninefox Gambit" (2016), I read - and that was enough. Here, an interstellar human empire is held together by a sort of liturgical calendar that is all-important. Rebels assert themselves by creating alternative calendars and measures of time.

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