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Group Readings > The Tempest Act 5, July 11-July 27

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message 1: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
Discussion of Act 5 can happen here

Sorry I was not able to get I got behind

I’m still reading and just getting to the city now therefore WiFi.

message 2: by Tom (last edited Aug 07, 2018 12:46AM) (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments Prospero has directed a morality play, with wayward personages as unwitting actors. In Act 5, Prospero's play, and ours, concludes. There are reunions. There are reconciliations, or not. Here is how it "plays" out:

Act 5: Come Together, Right Now, Over Me (Prospero, that is)

Scene 1: Ariel Plays Fetch

Prospero: Now everything comes to a head. What time is it?
Ariel: Time you said we would wrap up.
Prospero: How's Alonso and his followers?
Ariel: Still charmed. Alonso, Sebastian, and Antonio are spellbound. Their retainers mourn over them. Gonzalo cries. If you could see them, you would be touched.
Prospero: If you, spirit, can be moved, no less can I, who am like they are. Even if they did wrong. Virtue is better than vengeance. I made them think about what they did; that is sufficient. Break the spell.
Ariel: "I'll fetch them, sir."
Prospero: You spirits who have assisted me can do magical things. But you don't hold a candle to what I can do. I can challenge Jupiter himself. I can raise the dead. But when this is over, I've had enough of magic. I will break my wand and toss my copy of "Drawing Down the Moon" [1] into the sea.
[Ariel brings Alonso, Gonzalo, Sebastian, Antonio, and attendants into a magical circle Prospero has drawn. They are still unaware of what is really going on. I imagine them being beamed into the circle "Star Trek" fashion.]
Prospero: Gonzalo, you're a mensch. Alonso, you were cruel to me and my daughter. Sebastian, you helped. You are so far from normal affections you'd even have killed the king, your brother. Ambitious Antonio, you, too, had no pity and natural feelings. Still, I forgive you miscreants. Hmm, but you won't recognize me at first sight when you come out of the spell. I'll dress the way you remembered me as duke. Ariel, "fetch me my hat and rapier" [2].
Ariel: I suck. Like a bee, I mean, going from flower to flower. Because I can fly around like a fairy, and fairies like flowers. Or maybe that's reading in too much meaning, and this is a song just for the hell of it. Because I sing. It's what I've done all through this play. Besides, it would be boring for the audience to watch me act like a valet and dramatically dress master in his ducal trappings without a soundtrack. Yes, master is upper crust and so he doesn't have to dress himself.
Prospero: I will miss you, guy. Now go get the ship captain and boatswain.
Gonzalo: What a freaky place.
Prospero: It's me, the rightful Duke of Milan. Welcome to Fantasy Island.
Alonso: Is it really you? Have your dukedom back [3]. And forgive me. But how did you get here?
Gonzalo: Is this really happening? Or just another trick?
Prospero: I've been jerking you around. But let's all be friends now. Even you, Sebastian and Antonio. I know what you two were up to [4]. But I'll keep it under my hat.
[While Antonio is silent and does not respond to Prospero's muted accusation, Sebastian replies, "The devil speaks in him." I think this could have either or both of two meanings. To wit:]
Sebastian (option 1): You're lying. I wasn't going to do anything treasonous. Oh, no. Not me.
OR Sebastian (option 2): How did you know about that? Did someone supernatural squeal on me?
Alonso: Back to how you escaped the sea and survived here. And how did you find us, shipwrecked only three hours ago? When I lost my son, Ferdie.
Prospero: I lost my daughter, too, as a result of the tempest. (Snicker, snicker.) I'll explain everything when we have time. But now, voila.
Miranda: You're cheating at this game.
Ferdinand: I wouldn't do that to you, not even to rule the world.
Miranda: No, but maybe for a bunch of countries [5]. [They must be playing "Risk."]
Alonso: Seems I lost my son twice. First to the ocean. Now to this woman.
Sebastian: Wow, Ferdie didn't drown after all. I thought he was dead and I could replace him on the throne (once I'd bumped off his dad). What a "miracle." Damn [6].
Miranda: What a herd of beefcake. A brave new world!
Prospero: (Roll of eyes.) It's new to you, anyway. Since in Act 1 Scene 2 you couldn't remember much from your early childhood. It's old hat to me [7].
Alonso: Who's the woman? And how did you find true love in a mere three hours?
Ferdinand: Kismet. I thought you were dead, or I'd have asked your permission. She's the daughter of the renowned Duke of Milan. I've got a new life now, and a second father.
Alonso: I like it. And I'm sure sorry for the mess I made.
Prospero: Let bygones be bygones. What is past is past. Not prologue, in this case. Or maybe it is. I'll give you an epilogue later.
Gonzalo: Running off at the mouth, because I am the royal counselor and it is what I do. Even though the Bobbsey Twins Sebastian and Antonio laughed at me for it in Act 2 Scene 1. All the loose ends are tied up. [Here comes Ariel, with Captain Useless of the good ship "Goodreads," who only speaks twice, in Act 1 Scene 1, telling the boatswain to save the ship; and the boatswain.] Or maybe not. Here's more of us to explain. Hey, boatswain, cat got your tongue?
Boatswain: The crew was in a deep sleep, having strange dreams. When we all woke up, the ship was shipshape. Now here are the king and company safe and sound.
Alonso: Curiouser and curiouser.
Ariel: Did I do good?
Prospero: You rock. Now go get the murderous comic trio so we can complete the third subplot of this play.
Stephano: We're busted. We better get our stories straight [8].
Caliban: I'm in for it.
Sebastian and Antonio: We can buy that creepy guy and exhibit him in Believe-It-Or-Not [9].
Prospero: These three robbed my wardrobe and plotted to kill me. Two are yours to dispose of, Alonso. I'll judge the other one.
Alonso and Trinculo: (Wordplay about being pickled/in a pickle.)
Prospero: You three bozos go clean up my room. Caliban, I'll let you off the hook if you do a good job.
Caliban: I was a dope to take that drunken dude for a god.
Alonso: And put back the loot you took.
Prospero: You folks stay overnight. I'll tell you "the story of my life." Tomorrow we'll sail to Naples, hold Miranda's and Ferdie's wedding, then I'll go back to Milan. Ariel, blow us away. In the good sense, with favorable winds in our ship's sails, I mean. Then be free, go back to the elements, and fare well [10].

Postlude: Magic-Man Addresses the Audience Anticlimactically [11]

Prospero: The story is over. But we won't go until you give us a rousing round of applause, so we know we entertained you. Tell your friends. "Like" us on Facebook.


[1] I heard Margot Adler speak about the book, at Chicago's Adler University, named for her psychologist grandfather. She was good. So were the sandwiches and brownies at the lunchtime lecture. (That last sentence sounds like something Stephano and Trinculo would be interested in.)
[2] Prospero's doffing his Merlin garb shows his abdication of magic; his donning of his regal attire and weapon, his regaining of his lost rank. Straightforward symbolism, but probably audience-pleasing.
[3] Maybe because Milan under Antonio has been tributary to Naples, Alonso has the power to declare this without Antonio's consent.
[4] Because Ariel had overheard and intervened, and reported their conspiracy.
[5] Probably a bit of joking by S., because Ferdinand and Miranda are going to be king and queen of Naples eventually.
[6] It could be taken that Sebastian's remark about a miracle is a genuine expression of wonder, and a sign of his change of heart at last. But a few lines later, he and Antonio are at their old game of flippancy (about Caliban), so I see no transformation of character, and take Sebastian's "miracle" comment as sarcasm.
[7] Also, while Miranda seems to be commenting on the outward appearance of the men she sees, Prospero knows what they've done or tried to do.
[8] Or, "Every man for himself." What he actually says sounds like the opposite, but this could be S. showing Stephano is confused because of copping too much of a buzz.
[9] This is my expansion of what seems to be intended, as people from other lands brought to Europe during the Age of Exploration were objects of wonderment.
[10] Emphasizing Ariel's nature as an elemental. "Farewell" spelled as one word is now common as "goodbye," so I use two words to stress the full import of the sentiment, "May everything go well with you."
[11] As with Puck's apology at the end of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Shakespeare does this, apparently not realizing he is diluting the culmination of his play, or at least so it is to a modern reader/attendee.

message 3: by Tom (new)


Midsommer Flight is presenting "Two Gentlemen of Verona" in Touhy Park, along Clark Street near the Howard transit interchange, Chicago, this Saturday, 28 July, 6:00 p.m. Join me if you can. Look for the small guy with white and brown hair, with glasses, wearing jean shorts and a blue T-shirt.

(Last weekends' "The Merry Wives of Windsor" in Evanston was OK, good enough for a troupe that hasn't done much Shakespeare. Though there was rain earlier in the day, I took the chance and saw it Sunday evening. There were chairs set up, and picnic tables nearby, so damp ground was no problem. Don't expect chairs, though, at Touhy Park.)

message 4: by Lucinda (last edited Aug 03, 2018 02:22AM) (new)

Lucinda Elliot (lucindaelliot) | 583 comments This has been a fascinating discussion, with excellent leadership from Tom - 'qualities of leadership' and all that. I have to say, Tom, I was a bit disappointed about the qualified nature of Prospero's forgivness at the end - and as you say, about how far some of the characters have a moral transformation at all.
It is weirdly ambiguous about who was on the island first, as the preface to my edition of the Penguin Shakespeare. remarks. If it was Aerial, then the island belongs to him, but as he has no body, then the contest Prospero and Caliban about who owns it was almost irrelevant to him - though obviously, his servitude is not. It is also pointed out that it is unclear whether Prospero leaves Caliban behind, or takes him with him.
The discussion on 'The Play in Performance' is fascinating, too.
The earlier Prospero-as-wise-and just interpretation has given way to a far more ambiguous depiction as the values of colonialism and imperialism were challanged.
There have been vastly differing depictions of Caliban. It suggests that 'racial stereotypes' in depiction are rare, despite the prevalence of colonialist type readings. Apparently, Herbert Beerbohm Tree had him as a semi werewolf in 1854,who howled at Prospero's departure. Apparently the first black man to play Caliban was Canada Lee in 1945. In 1988, Tony Haygarth played him as a devil with short horns, and 'his genitalia were padlocked into an ugly and painful chastity belt'. In 1993, David Troughton played him as a white ablino wrestler, violent but simple.
Aerial is usually played by a young man, but sometimes a woman, and of course, would have been played by a boy in Shakespeare's time. Ian Charleson (the actor who played Bertram in the BBC version of 'Alls Well That Ends Well') played him moving in a grudging sort of slow motion. It seems that the more mature the actor who plays Aerial, the more the interpretation tends to emphasize his longing to be free.
Interestingly, this edition makes no comments on how the other characters are interpreted...I am sure the Miranda portrayals must have changed a lot over the years to accomodate feminism. I haven't seen this play in performance, not even the BBC Version.
I hope Tom enjoyed the Chicago performance of 'Two Gentleman of Verona'.

message 5: by Tom (last edited Aug 20, 2018 08:08AM) (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments As we prepare to embark from Fantasy Island, let's check the passenger manifest.

In a luxury stateroom will be VIP Prospero. I wanted to like him, and to hoist a cup of sack with him on the homeward voyage. Alas, his manipulation of others, and notably his unrelenting ill-will to Caliban, scotched that. (Hmm... a cup of Scotch would be nice, too.) Prospero's motives, as he stated them, were the welfare of Miranda, "I have done nothing but in care of thee," Act 1 Scene 2 line 16; and, in Act 5, to bring Alonso &etc. to penitence. There seems an undercurrent of reaching to regain his dukedom for his own pride, though, more than for benevolent purpose. He is not quite a compassionate bodhisattva using "skillful means" (the Buddhist concept of "upaya") to help others to become better beings, although Alonso is better in the end. Sebastian, Antonio, Stephano, and Trinculo do not learn anything. Caliban seems only to learn to be more streetwise in his granting of allegiance to others. Prospero's repeated line, "I've got them in my power!," almost makes me visualize him as a black-hatted cartoon villain rubbing his hands and twirling his Snidely Whiplash mustache.

Assured of power after the battle with the Romans, King Cymbeline says, "Pardon's the word to all" ("Cymbeline" Act 5 Scene 5 line 503). Prospero abruptly does something comparable, except that Caliban doesn't seem included in the blanket amnesty.

Now that he has his dukedom back, Prospero gives up his magical studies, which diverted him from attention to his station in the first place. Has he tacitly learned from his mistake, which he never acknowledges, and intends now to keep a firm hand on the reins of state? Will he be a wiser ruler?

If I were to pick a part to act in a telling of "The Tempest," I would still choose Prospero, to try to re-humane-ize him, as in older productions, if this were possible in our contemporary views of social relations. Thanks, Lucinda, for a concise overview of how Prospero, Caliban, and Ariel have been historically portrayed. A fruitful exercise is to type the names of those characters into Google or Yahoo Images and marvel at the variety. You have to specify "Ariel Shakespeare" in the search box, or the first thing you get is pictures of Disney's animated "The Little Mermaid." With Miranda's age and attractiveness as constricting factors, her portrayals are more uniform. There are so many celebrities with the name "Miranda," again do specify "Shakespeare" or "Tempest" in your photos quest to zero in.

However we think of Prospero's age, Gonzalo is clearly the elder statesman. Prospero greets him first of the group from whom the spell in the grove is lifted, like this: "Let me embrace thine age, whose honour cannot Be measured or confined" (Act 5 Scene 1 lines 120-122). Age has brought Gonzalo wisdom, which it is questionable is as much the case with Prospero himself. Speaking of Gonzalo. As he tempts Sebastian into the murder plot, Antonio tells Sebastian, "my strong [which here seems to mean firm, rather than flighty] imagination sees a crown Dropping upon thy head" (Act 2 Scene 1 lines 206-208). Gonzalo, blessing Ferdinand and Miranda, reprises in reverse that idea, saying, "Look down, you gods, And on this couple drop a blessed crown," because you gods ordained all this (Act 5 Scene 1 lines 200-204). (Gonzalo confuses Prospero's machinations with divine ones, but then, Prospero himself regards the ship's coming into his range as divine.) Prospero resolves to pay back Gonzalo's benevolence "both in word and deed" (Act 5 Scene 1 lines 69-71), the latter meaning a further elevation in rank or pay grade? Maybe Gonzalo will be awarded the OME (Order of the Milanese Empire). Given Gonzalo's sage-like (if starry-eyed and garrulous) personality, it is appropriate that this can be chanted as "Aum."

Gonzalo probably got a complimentary round-trip ticket from Alonso for the Tunis Love Boat (remember Claribel's wedding) cruise. Maybe even Port Out Starboard Home. The concierge now just needs to scan it. Since the tempest at sea was an illusion and the lords were never really in the water and their clothes were not wet, neither would his ticket have gotten gooey, if it were a paper printout. Maybe he has his reservation on his smartphone. Are those waterproof anyway, like my Casio wristwatch?

Not to be forgotten on our passenger manifest is Miranda, she for whom Prospero professes to have done all. I have read that her name derives from the Latin "miror," wonder, and innocent wonder is her salient quality, as in her, "O wonder!...O brave new world" exclamations. Wonder Woman has little character development. Even her castigation of Caliban in Act 1 Scene 2 lines 351-364 sound out of character. Some directors of "The Tempest," I read, have deleted these lines, or transferred them to Prospero. Candy, this passage is where Miranda is identified as Caliban's schoolmarm. Found it, but it says more about teaching Caliban language and this and that, than time specifically. Anyway, Miranda's role in the tale is mostly that of the companions in "Doctor Who": to ask, "What is that, doctor?," so the Doctor - I mean, Prospero - can display knowledge and control. As Lucinda has commented, Miranda is too good to be true.

We have had quite an intriguing thread about the relationship between Prospero and Caliban, and Caliban's nature. Definitely human, though disdained by Prospero and others. On our boat to Naples, it seems Caliban does not have a ticket to ride, and he don't care! By default, he gets the island back. (As do Ariel and the spirits, though it is more their sporting ground than physical home, as Lucinda has pointed out.) At his encounter with Prospero in Act 5 Scene 1, Caliban, upon seeing (it seems) Prospero dressed for the first time in his courtly finery, as well as having been outwitted by him, Caliban acknowledges Prospero again as "his master" (line 261, if I rightly suss out an ambiguous numbering in my edition). Caliban resolves to be more perceptive; but the meeting does not seem a reconciliation. And would Prospero want to keep Caliban anyway, as an unemancipated slave, since there is no camaraderie? Prospero having disavowed his magical and consorting-with-spirits powers to control Caliban, would Caliban feel obliged to go along?

But will Caliban now be content in his solitude on the island, with other humans gone? The miscellaneous haunting spirits presumably now are going to leave him alone. Caliban recognizes the strange phenomena on the island (Act 3 Scene 2 lines 135-144; though that could just mean his psyche provides him with pleasant dreams to offset his troubles). But Caliban has mostly experienced the spirits as tormentors. Though Caliban's experiences with other humans have not been satisfying, will Caliban's exposure to other company in the span of three hours still leave him lonely?

In re: Stephano's exhortation, "Corragio, bully monster, coraggio," I think of two things. First, early on in their collaboration, Stephano tells Caliban, "O brave monster, lead the way" (the very last line of Act 2). Second, here is a catchphrase, if it really was, of Teddy Roosevelt!

Also staying behind is Ariel. Definitely a "sentient being," rational, able to identify with human feeling, and having a moral sense. Ariel is a trickster, or at least assents (creatively) to being one to carry out Prospero's wishes, but is not malicious. Ariel refused Sycorax's unspecified wrongful commands (Act 1 Scene 2 lines 272-274); and addresses the wayward lords in high dudgeon at the vanishing banquet. Prospero calls Ariel "malignant" (Act 1 Scene 2 line 257), but it is in a moment of pique as he and Ariel are sparring over the time of Ariel's release from Prospero's service. Their parting now is tender. Prospero says, "I will miss thee," and in his speech before the Epilogue, calls Ariel "chick." This sounds to me like more than a nod to Ariel's flying ability, instead functioning as a term of endearment, like calling Ariel, "my child." But way cooler than that line in the 1940 Mae West and W. C. Fields American comedy-western film, "My Little Chickadee."

There are several ways to appreciate a Shakespeare play, or any play. To read it. To see it on stage or screen. To learn the range of productions through which it has been interpreted. To hear or read a director's explanation of why she or he presented it as she did. Or an actor's thoughts behind the portrayal. But maybe the best way is to participate in a presentation of the play oneself. May I suggest, then, this "Tempest" challenge?

Select a passage from the play that especially excites, or puzzles, you. Then read it for us! Perhaps approach it as though you were auditioning for the part. You can share it with us in an audio format online.

In addition, if you live in or are visiting the Chicago area, come to Lincoln Park. Across the street from the Lincoln Park Conservatory, there is a monument to the Bard. Here is what it looks like: (sorry for the really long link). We can meet there on a Sunday afternoon, have a snack in the park, toast the master, and read aloud. I suggest 2 September, 1:00 p.m., for this. The local weather should be moderate by then.

We will continue to discuss "The Tempest," no doubt, as ideas will still be forming (like unconscious Calibans seeking articulation?). But I do want to formally make way for our next play selection and facilitator. I have learned much from our exchanges in this, my first outing with our group. Bows of appreciation, with hand on sword hilt and flourish of my hat, to all our contributors.

As my time to lead comes to an end,
To you this tricksy post I send.
Like Prospero in his "Epilogue" time,
I speak to you in simple rhyme.
Thanks for giving much good thought
To the words that our dear Shakespeare wrought.
May you have fair wind in your sail,
And your love of literature never fail.

Boatswain, weigh anchor.

message 6: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) Tom wrote: "As my time to lead comes to an end,
To you this tricksy post I send.
Like Prospero in his "Epilogue" time,
I speak to you in simple rhyme.
Thanks for giving much good thought
To the words that our dear Shakespeare wrought.
May you have fair wind in your sail,
And your love of literature never fail.

Boatswain, weigh anchor. ..."

Applause and standing ovation!

Thank you for your leadership, it has been exceptional.

message 7: by JamesD (new)

JamesD | 549 comments Tom wrote: "As we prepare to embark from Fantasy Island, let's check the passenger manifest.

In a luxury stateroom will be VIP Prospero. I wanted to like him, and to hoist a cup of sack with him on the homewa..."

O Tom! Let our indulgence set you free. For you have been a 'tricksy' discussion leader par excellence!

message 8: by Lucinda (last edited Aug 09, 2018 05:46AM) (new)

Lucinda Elliot (lucindaelliot) | 583 comments Candy, I think the 'telling of time' Caliban learnt from Miranda was associated with the phases of the moon (appropriate, as women have often been traditionally associated with the moon).

As Tom says, she does come across as a bit 'too good to be true' and because of this, her hard words about Caliban in Scene II are attributed to Prospero in some productions. And this leads me to say...
Everyone: To return to a point I made in discussing Act I, I have to keep harping on about this as a matter of principle, as I think I would be letting myself down as a feminist if I didn't insist on this point: that surely a rape or a rape attempt is never excusable in any circumstances, whether a man has been enslaved or not.

If Caliban is interpreted as human - and if Prospero is telling the truth, and Caliban did try and rape Miranda some time before - then her disgust with him is fully justified: the more so, as she must have been still a child, as she is only about fifteen at the end of the play.

As I said earlier in the discussion, isn't there a danger of discounting Miranda's experience of dual oppression from Prospero, certainly - but also from Caliban's trying to exert his brute force?

I believe this raises issues that were involved in the anti-colonialist wars: I remember being dismayed at university when I read how in those pre-feminist days, some left wing writers justified or excused the rape of 'the women' of colonialists by the freedom fighters as an act of revenge against their male oppressors. I understand that back in the 1960's and 1970's, left wing women were expected by their male colleagues to agree with them and see that as acceptable or anyway, not worth discussing.

I remember reading that during the revolutionary late 1950's revolution in Cuba, Che Guevera had any of his men found guilty of rape executed, so his view was slightly different from theirs, anyway...

I hope we have all come a long way in our thinking about rape as an act of hatred and the abuse of women since those days when female experience was discounted.

Certainly, brutality begets brutality: that is an unfortunate fact.
But sympathy for Caliban - and he is a sad being - should not blind our awareness as to how disgusting that act was and how appalling for Miranda.

message 9: by Tim (new)

Tim Horwood | 17 comments A Stage History of The Tempest

message 10: by Tom (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments Great link, Tim. It is clear how, with emphasis on costumes, music, and effects, the whole play has a masque-like patina. The essay not only gives us a good overview of the physical elements of the play, but differing interpretations of key characters, and splendidly symbolic reflections of politics.

There have been two stage presentations that I have seen references to and am sure were filmed, but have been so far unable to locate copies of those videos, if any. One is a 2000 Globe Theatre performance with Vanessa Redgrave as Prospero. What richness she would bring to the role. The other is a 2006 version with Patrick Stewart as Prospero. I will keep an eye out for those.

message 11: by Tom (last edited Aug 20, 2018 08:22AM) (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments Hark, Shakespeare Fellowes,

We sail north to Naples from the Enchanted Island on the good ship "Goodreads," the boatswain at the conn. (The captain always seems to be either in the sack or drinking it.) As we gaze across the rail dreamily on a midsummer's night, we have a few more musings on our encounters with sorcerers, storms, and sprites.

Commentators note that Prospero's goodbye to magic parallels a speech by the witch Medea in the Roman poet Ovid's "Metamorphosis." Steeped in the Classics, the educated members of Shakespeare's audience would have recognized the Ovid quotation and been favorably impressed.

Why, in that soliloquy, does Prospero call his magic "rough" (Act 5 Scene 1 line 50)? It can't mean "approximate," as in "a rough draft," because Prospero is an adept. Can it mean "violent" or "crude," since Prospero's magic afford him power over people? I'll go with that interpretation. One of our group's word-meisters may have an insight.

Alonso endorses Ferdinand and Miranda's marriage by joining their hands and cursing any naysayers: "Let grief and sorrow still embrace his heart That doth not wish you joy" (Act 5 Scene 1 lines 213-214). Who is he alluding to? I think it is more than mere formula, like the outmoded hack line in American wedding ceremonies, "If anyone knows why this couple should not be joined, let him speak now or forever hold his peace." It can't be Caliban, who Alonso hasn't met yet and wouldn't know as an aspirant to Miranda's affection. It is likely an oblique reference to Sebastian thinking of trying again to seize the succession to the throne that belongs to Ferdinand and his wife.

I was re-thinking the musicality of Ariel in the play. I had considered it gratuitous showmanship: "Coming to a stage near you, 'The Tempest,' starring Ariel as Mary Poppins." Rather, the music is an integral part of Ariel's nature. This I conclude after reviewing the fine link Candy gave us, Most of Ariel's songs have an "instrumental," in one sense of the word, magical effect on the hearers. "Where the Bee Sucks" in Act 5 is Ariel's own rejoicing at his imminent release from Prospero's thralldom. He will be free as a bee (without a queen to tend). The haunting noises Caliban hears may be the sound of Ariel's slipstream as he/she travels about. (Caliban is aware that there are Things knocking about on the island, but apparently doesn't know of Ariel specifically. Did others catch any reference that suggests he did?) In the 2010 Helen Mirren film I recommended, Ariel generates a sound like a sonic boom and leaves a visible swirl of atmosphere as he rockets away on his missions.

Jim had a really interesting comparison of Caliban, clad in all-weather L.L.Bean - I mean, pilgrim's gabardine - making a spiritual journey. Caliban has had some potentially transformative experiences to contemplate. With Ariel as guardian angel? I had a sense of the humanity of the ethereal entity, Ariel; Caliban also as most believably human makes sense to me.

(I think of Kirk's eulogy for the fallen Spock, as Spock's body is committed to the celestial deep at the end of the 1982 film, "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan": "Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most human." As Spock and the Vulcans would say, "Live Long and Prospero.")

In the link Tim provided us on the history of performances of "The Tempest," there is this paragraph:

"Throughout the last third of the 19th century, the focus shifted onto Caliban, who was now presented as a more human creature whose soul struggles to get free of his brutish instincts. The actor-manager, Beerbohm Tree, took the role of Caliban in his production of the play at Her Majesty's Theatre in 1904 and gave the role great prominence. Tree rearranged the ending so that Caliban closed the play. He was seen creeping out of his cave as the ship bearing Prospero and his companions disappeared on the horizon. Crouched on a lonely rock, the creature stretched out his arms in mute despair before the final curtain triggered tumultuous applause."

Some commentators have thought it fitting that "The Tempest" is printed at the beginning of the First Folio, because of the theatrical feel of Prospero's direction of the action on the island. Some have construed Prospero's farewell to magic as Shakespeare's farewell to the theater. I think that is a case of looking back from what we know of how Shakespeare's career turned out, rather than that Shakespeare meant in this play to take a bow and retire. Shakespeare continued with some collaborations, so his career was a winding-down. But "The Tempest," as we have noticed, does seem to evidence a declining creativity, or/and perhaps a waning interest in writing. I like Janice's suggestion that Prospero (using legerdemain in place of force of character), Caliban (unformed ideas), and Antonio (the rising rival) are representations of Shakespeare's deteriorating powers.

But Mr. Bill is going strong this summer. There is likely Shakespeare in the park where you are. Where I am, here are some more chances for us to get together.

The troupe Muse of Fire presents "Richard III" in Ingraham Park, behind the Civic Center (the city hall,) in Evanston, Illinois, at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, 19 August. Free. There is a parking lot. The park is also an easy walk from the Foster or Noyes stops on the CTA Purple Line. There is no seating provided, so bring a blanket or a lawn chair. I just sit on the grass. It's OK to take refreshments. The sun will move position during the performance, so be aware that if you start out sitting in the shade, the shade may disappear.

Come join me! Look for the small white-and-brown haired guy with thin-rim glasses and Tevas.

It is sad that this is the final season, after ten years, for Muse of Fire. Their performances have always been good. Maybe funding difficulties?

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater, based at the tourist trap called Navy Pier, stages big-budget outdoor performances, one play per summer. This season's offering is "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Perfect for coinciding with our reading schedule. Gonzalo would proclaim this the providence of the gods. There are performances all through the summer at various parks across Chicago. My preferred openings are Saturday August 25, 6:30 p.m., at Loyola Park, in the north of the city off Sheridan Road. The park is lovely, along the lake, cool on an August evening. Or, Ping Tom Memorial Park, Chinatown, Sunday August 26, 4:00 p.m. The advantage of this one is it's Chinatown! Go early and stay late to enjoy one of the city's great neighborhoods. One can arrive by bus or by Red Line train, or, better, go first into downtown Chicago and ride the water taxi on the Chicago River.

We can arrange a get-together through our Goodreads connection, or you may contact me at, mobile 872-808-4950.

I hope we can also share some audio clips of our readings from "The Tempest." I am wondering, though, if the Goodreads website parameters will allow us to have audio links or attachments. Maybe a link to the Cloud? We can try.

message 12: by Lucinda (last edited Aug 12, 2018 07:51AM) (new)

Lucinda Elliot (lucindaelliot) | 583 comments Regarding my comments above, here is a link about male critical erasure of Miranda's experience of oppression from both Prospero and Caliban: this echoes my own impressions.
Well, would you believe it - the link itself is suffering from erasure:
I have downloaded it, but the link I have copied twice gives 'file not found'.
However, any search with 'erasure of Miranda's experience in The Tempest' will locate it.

message 13: by Tom (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments Got it. Wow - a great reading. It packs a lot of info and thought into a small space. Thanks.

message 14: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda Elliot (lucindaelliot) | 583 comments Glad you found it, Tom.

message 15: by Tom (last edited Aug 13, 2018 12:05PM) (new)

Tom Salyers | 4 comments Lucinda wrote: "Regarding my comments above, here is a link about male critical erasure of Miranda's experience of oppression from both Prospero and Caliban: this echoes my own impressions.

Just so you know--you're getting a "file not found" error because the link you posted is pointing to the downloaded copy on your own local hard drive, not the one on the internet. Here's a working link.

message 16: by JimF (new)

JimF | 219 comments How can a woman writer prosper in Shakespeare’s time?

Ferdinand (Magellan), Antonio (Pigafetta), Sebastian (Elcano), Francisco (Albo), these names taken from Magellan’s circumnavigation may be a coincidence, but Setebos is definitely not. It tells us to check names.

Prospero is a common name, but Miranda is not (at that time).
Prospero is a perfect anagram of o-prosper; Miranda of in-drama.
“O! Prosper in drama” tells us to combine. Miranda-Prospero can spell Mary Sidney. She is Miranda in the real life, and Prospero in the drama world.

In this case, the Dogs and Hounds called Mountain and Silver isn’t a coincidence any more.
A noise of Hunters heard. Enter divers Spirits in shape of Dogs and Hounds, hunting them about: Prospero and Ariel setting them on.

Hey Mountain, hey.

Silver: there it goes, Silver.

message 17: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) Lucinda wrote: "Regarding my comments above, here is a link about male critical erasure of Miranda's experience of oppression from both Prospero and Caliban: this echoes my own impressions...."

Fascinating essay... which leads me to wonder (and which I should have wondered about previously), if we take politics and ideologies, plus modern vs postmodern, out of the equation, and see this as a psychological expression of Shakespeare's last offering, then what role does Miranda play?

Even more interesting, what if we were to look at this play as a fairy tale -- where fairy tales are known to be supernatural and metaphysical symbols of how to live, and survive, the pitfalls of life.

My point being, how interesting to be able to find so many evolutions of meaning in these plays. That must be why they are considered so universal.

message 18: by JimF (last edited Aug 14, 2018 04:55PM) (new)

JimF | 219 comments A word player won’t dull us. Prospero’s epilogue may be plain for audiences, but not for word players.

How can Prospero be “confined by you or send to Naples”? Naples is a perfect anagram of panels; panel has the definition of a list of jurors or the jury itself. He is asking “you” not to judge him (in court).

How can Prospero be freed? The key is “Spell” in line 8; it can mean a set of magical words (charm), or the ability to to discover, to suspect, to form a word by letters.

Hand has the definition of skill; the “good hands” in line 10 can mean both applause and good reading skill.
EPILOGUE, spoken by Prospero.

Now my Charms are all ore-thrown, [1]
And what strength I have is mine own.
Which is most faint: now ’tis true [3]
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples, Let me not.[5]
Since I have my Dukedom got,
And pardoned the deceiver, dwell [7]
In this bare Island, by your Spell,
But release me from my bands [9]
With the help of your good hands:

Prospero’s Word Magic is “rough” for it’s uneven, rugged, difficult to traverse.

message 19: by Tom (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments Insightful and helpful. Thanks!

message 20: by Tim (new)

Tim Horwood | 17 comments Shelley wrote a poem "With a guitar. To Jane"

Shelley casts himself and the Williamses as characters from The Tempest.

message 21: by Tom (last edited Aug 18, 2018 04:01AM) (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments Lucinda wrote: "Candy, I think the 'telling of time' Caliban learnt from Miranda was associated with the phases of the moon (appropriate, as women have often been traditionally associated with the moon).

As Tom s..."

Lunar and solar movements, and the seasons, were early humans' first timekeepers, and astronomy, coupled with mathematics, the first sciences. Astronomy, then still in close association with astrology, was on the syllabus for a formal Medieval and Renaissance education. Miranda was teaching Caliban not just a structure for his activities, but the curriculum she would have received from her father.

The moon as a symbol has further application with Caliban. Stephano played off Caliban's suggestion that he was the moon god, the Man in the Moon, come to earth. Stephano addresses Caliban as mooncalf, an old term for an out-of-time birth, an abortion, a deformed or monstrous animal or human. Apparently Caliban's vocabulary tutoring did not include that term, so Caliban does not take it as the insult it is. Plus, he, the valet, and the jester were all tipsy at the time, so he may have missed the implication because of that.

When I was a kid, playing out in the yard at twilight, the grown-ups would point to the moon and ask me if I could see the man. I never could, and still cannot. I saw, and still see, a rabbit. I am happy that, as I learned later, Chinese mythology also sees a rabbit figure in the play of light and shadow on the surface of the moon. The rabbit has a mortar and pestle to grind the fabled powder of long life. There is a Chinese-made candy, available at international markets in the United States, called White Rabbit, that I like. Its name reflects the lunar Leporidae.

Thanks, Lucinda, for a compelling commentary on Caliban's conduct. I do wish Caliban had learned from it. Perhaps he still can, if we conceive of an outcome in which he goes on a personal inner journey after the castaways have left, a scenario Jim has prompted us to imagine. As the "Sederi" paper you alerted us to noted, "The Tempest" lends itself to a lot of speculation of what went before, off to various sides, and what may come after.

How much of Caliban's failing is an incomplete instruction by his two parental figures, Sycorax and Prospero? Was Caliban, when Prospero and Miranda came on the scene, more or less feral, something like, since we have touched on the colonialism connection, the people whom Kipling saw as "fluttered folk and wild...half-devil and half-child"?

The more I think about Caliban, the more I want to, if not exonerate him, understand him, for two reasons. First, in the play, not counting his backstory, he is picked on or used, and it irks me to see people "piling on" on anyone when they are down. Second, I acknowledge being influenced by the Buddhist idea that dualities are falsehoods, even all-good and all-evil within beings. I hold that in tension, though (still thinking it through), with a suspicion, coming from my readings of and reflection upon Cicero and Tao philosophy, that there is a moral order to the universe, innate in beings; so even an insufficiently socialized Caliban "ought" to have known better. He had a choice.

I was wondering how old Caliban is. In Act 1 Scene 2 lines 269-280, Prospero recapitulates for Ariel, which is a means to give new information to the audience, how Sycorax came to the island with the baby Caliban, then, with the aid of spirits in her service, confined Ariel to the pine tree when Ariel would not bow to Sycorax's commands. The confinement lasted 12 years. Presumably Prospero released Ariel not long after arriving on the island with the three-year old Miranda. We know that Prospero's and Miranda's residence on the island was 12 years. That would make Caliban at least 24 years old at the time of the events in the play.

Assume Prospero discovered Caliban (maybe with Ariel's scouting?) a short time after arriving on the island. Assume further that it took some time for Prospero to teach Miranda, who then taught Caliban; though children can quickly pick things up and pass them on to other children, which Caliban, intellectually, may have been. Caliban, then, may have approached Miranda when she was a pre-teen, or at least early teen. Caliban's slavery as punishment may then have lasted not more than a year.

There are other ways to tease this out, of course. In any case, Caliban was not a smitten boy innocently if awkwardly approaching his classroom crush. Nor was this a teen fling like Romeo and Juliet, with hormones, visions of castles in the air, and angst.

Even if Caliban had been age-appropriate, and had conducted a proper courtship, Prospero would have rejected his suit because Caliban is not of the same social class.

Miranda is 15 years old when she marries Ferdinand. I wonder how old Ferdie is?

Yesterday I attended the noontime Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert series at the Chicago Cultural Center, as I do most Wednesdays. One of the selections was Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 17 in D Minor, Op. 31, No. 2 (c. 1801), "Der Sturm," said to have been inspired by "The Tempest." Shakespeare was adopted by the Continental Romanticists, as the celebrated common man.

message 22: by Lucinda (last edited Aug 16, 2018 08:55AM) (new)

Lucinda Elliot (lucindaelliot) | 583 comments Insightful comments, Tom.
I feel like you about motivation. If I understand why someone does things, even if I find their reasoning false, then to me that makes things make sense. So unerstanding Caliban's motivation is important to understanding the play.
But we are stuck in our successive interpretations through the lenses of different ages and prejudices, as Janice says...
What you say is very interesting about a spirtitual approach to duality.
All the moral transformations in this play seem inadequate to me. The plotting aristocrats and the plotting commoners are forgiven, but they don't rise above themselves at the end, properly.
Neither does Prospero. It might be realistic, his grudging forgiveness - but I don't get that carthartic feeling I got from reading 'King Lear'. In that, when Edmund does a little good after so much evil, I found that moving.
But then, this is a comedy,not a tragedy, and won't give the same sense of transedence.
I think the time scheme is always hard to analyse in Shakespeare. It is often vague, and frequently contradictory, as it was in the last play we read, 'Cymbaline'. He knew well enough that if it holds together in performance, I suppose, then he needn't trouble too much about it.

message 23: by JamesD (new)

JamesD | 549 comments I've wondered about the Tempest being labelled a comedy. At the very least it is a black comedy. I think it is social satire with comedy that might make you wonder why you are laughing. Last night I was falling asleep in front of Helen Mirren as Prospera (because I was knackered) and I realised that so far I've not seen a really satisfying interpretation of The Tempest. I think I'd like to see a 'black' version with Caliban as the only fair skin.

message 24: by JamesD (new)

JamesD | 549 comments Tom wrote: "Lucinda wrote: "Candy, I think the 'telling of time' Caliban learnt from Miranda was associated with the phases of the moon (appropriate, as women have often been traditionally associated with the ..."
Tom, yes the ages of Caliban and Miranda is interesting. I've noticed that there is a novel called Caliban and Miranda that conjectures about the 'real' relationship of the two. I'd like to read that.
I agree with you that snob that Prospero was dead against any intercourse as equals between C and M. C was too low.
Now about Ferdy and his age, well, from Prospero's point of view it didn't matter much as class was what it was all about.
Ultimately a most telling aspect to me about Shakespeare in this play is that Prospero has not shared his learning with Miranda and helped prepare her for the rough and tumble of social life (although he has shown her how to be mean to people i.e. Caliban). And what does this say about Shakespeare.
On Prospero's powers - even his lesser powers would be considered witchcraft if a woman was the wielder, and Prospero might have put his daughter in mortal danger if he had taught share his knowledge with her. Or did he not want to share this with any woman, ever?

message 25: by JimF (last edited Aug 21, 2018 06:14PM) (new)

JimF | 219 comments Unlike The Da Vinci Code, Shakespeare is real. It uses riddles and anagrams to seal stories of people then. The time spending on it can reason many difficult and seemingly tedious lines.

Back to my question in message 10 of the thread in Act 1: Why a ship-master hides himself in a tempest? In Act 5, why the ship-master says nothing, but let the bote-swain do all the talking?

Gonzalo, Master of this Design

I halt in “Rich garments, linens, stuffs.” What kind of exile would need rich garments and linens? Garments can spell anagrams; linens lines. Miranda-Prospero (Mary Sidney) is being exiled to a literature island.
By providence divine,
Some food, we had, and some fresh water, that
A noble Neapolitan Gonzalo
Out of his Charity, (who being then appointed
Master of this design) did give us, with
Rich garments, linens, stuffs, and necessaries
Which since have steaded much, so of his gentleness
Knowing I loved my books, he furnished me
From mine own Library, with volumes, that
I prize above my Dukedom.

Shakespear’s and Ben Johnson’s Master

In page 15 of the second volume of The Statesmen and Favourites of England since the Reformation (1665, 1766), David Lloyd (1635–1692) talked about Fulke Greville:
“. . . one great argument for his worth, was his respect of the worth of others; desiring to be known to posterity under no other notions than of Shakespear’s and Ben Johnson’s master, chancellor Egerton’s patron, bishop Overal’s lord, and sir Philip Sidney’s friend.”
In The Tempest, Bote-swain is Ben Jonson; Gonzalo is Fulke Greville, a lifelong friend of Mary Sidney.

message 26: by Tom (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments JamesD wrote: "Tom wrote: "Lucinda wrote: "Candy, I think the 'telling of time' Caliban learnt from Miranda was associated with the phases of the moon (appropriate, as women have often been traditionally associat..."

I, too, wondered about the categorizing of "The Tempest" as a comedy. I think of comedy as a putting-together of unexpected things that surprises me in a pleasant way. There isn't a great deal of that in "The Tempest." The cavortings of Stephano, Trinculo, and of Caliban when he is in their influence, and they are all under the influence of alcohol, is cheap, low laughs, if any. The scene of Ferdinand and Miranda with the wood can be made physically funny on stage, if they struggle to lift logs, but that still isn't that satisfying. Ariel strikes me as in some sense a clown, in the way that, while he wishes for his freedom, he carries out Prospero's assignments with an extra dash of creativity. Ariel seems to be enjoying him-/herself. Would Shakespeare's original audiences have seen Prospero's manipulation of people as somehow humorous? Would the more educated members of the audiences have regarded Prospero, because of his interest in magic, which, while still around in those days, was being displaced by natural sciences, as foolishly anachronistic? Although his magic worked.

It is indeed interesting that Prospero did not pass on his occult techniques to Miranda. Maybe he just wanted them for his own aggrandizement, and, though he would have educated Miranda on other matters (given her tender age at their exile, she would have been homeschooled), it was not done to em-power a girl in that way. And there is the witch business. As a upper-class male Prospero could dabble in the supernatural, as did a number of figures known to us more for their contributions to the history and philosophy of science than for their playing with astrology and alchemy.

Speaking of comedy, Midsommer Flight, which through July and August performs in several Chicago parks, gave a wonderful presentation of "Two Gentlemen of Verona." I saw it at Touhy Park, on the city's north. The poet's marvelous wordplay and rhetorical wit came through clearly in the actors' enunciations and emotion; as did both the comedy, and the disgust at the ignoble betrayals of Valentine and Julia by Proteus. When Proteus repents, and when the Duke of Milan offers pardons all around (as we have also seen in "Cymbeline" and "The Tempest"; royal pardons seem Shakespeare's way of conveniently tying up loose ends), the audience (including me) was moved. If we (the Shakespeare Fans) would like to put a comedy on our schedule for future reading, and if the group has not already done it (before I came aboard), I recommend "Two Gentlemen."

The troupe Muse of Fire, which has been based in Evanston, Illinois, adjoining Chicago on its northern border, has chosen Shakespeare plays matching issues of the day. This season's selection is "Richard III," in which Shakespeare's premier villain plots a rise to power, enabled by others who, too late, realize their mistake. Shades of a possible current global trend in politics. The production was, as theirs always have been, very good. It is sad that this, the tenth, is Muse of Fire's final season, because the principals want to go on to other activities.

I look forward to this weekend's outdoor presentation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by the big-budget Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Their shows are extravaganzas; I like the intimacy and exuberance of productions by smaller, shoestring-budget teams, and especially like giving them my support. "Dream" will be enjoyable, though, no question; and I will be primed for our next reading.

message 27: by JimF (new)

JimF | 219 comments Solving Shakespeare’s word plays may impact the performance (e.g. the seducing of King Duncan by Lady Macbeth).

Why the Man in the Moon?

Here Stephano is a false god, Caliban his Dog, and Trinculo his Bush. The three form a false Trinity.

Bush is a sign. This riddle comes from Rosalind (As You Like It): “If it be true, that good wine needs no bush.” Stephano, whose wine “cellar is in a rock by the sea-side,” has a bush to tell the world that his subject of go(o)d is false.

On the stage, Caliban should lick Stephano’s foot like a puppy-dog to reflect “thy Dog” and “puppy-headed Monster.”
Hast thou not dropped from heaven?

Out of the Moon I do assure thee. I was the
Man in the Moon, when time was.

I have seen thee in her: and I do adore thee:
My Mistress showed me thee, and thy Dog, and thy Bush.

Come, swear to that: kiss the Book:
I will furnish it anon with new Contents: Swear.

By this good light, this is a very shallow Monster:
I afeard of him? a very weak Monster:
The Man in the Moon?
A most poor credulous Monster:
Well drawn Monster, in good sooth.

I’ll show thee every fertile inch on the Island: and
I will kiss thy foot: I prithee be my god.

By this light, a most perfidious, and drunken
Monster, when its god is asleep he’ll rob his Bottle.

I’ll kiss thy foot, I’ll swear myself thy Subject.

Come on then: down and swear.

I shall laugh myself to death at this puppy-headed Monster:
a most scurvy Monster: I could find in my heart to beat him.

Trinculo (the bush) can spell Trinity (a sign), but why Stephano? “Trinculo Steph(f)ano” can spell Catholic-the-father-son-holy-spirit except letter f.

Ben Jonson used the name Prospero and Stephano in his 1598 Every Man in His Humour, but the two names were changed in 1616. (Why?) “Will Shakespeare” was listed as one of the principal comedians in that play.

message 28: by Tom (new)

Tom Lane | 84 comments TAKE THE "TEMPEST" CHALLENGE

Fans of Shakespeare, you are invited to join me to read aloud together passages from "The Tempest," or any favorite plays and sonnets, at the monument to the Bard in Chicago's Lincoln Park, just west across Stockton Drive from the Lincoln Park Conservatory (the greenhouse), this coming Sunday, 2 September, 1:00 p.m. I will watch for you at the Conservatory, and at the statue itself. Look for me behind the Shakespeare-head cardboard fan! Bring snacks, drinks, or a lunch if you like, to enjoy in the park. If you need more specific directions, you can contact me here on Goodreads, or at cell phone 872-808-4950, email

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