Shakespeare’s The Tempest is his crowning masterpiece. This play contains so much about the nature and purpose of creation itself; it is a work that embodies so much of what he as an artist hoped to achieve and simultaneously crowns that achievement with a wonderfully humble stepping off the dramatic stage:
Now my charms are all o’erthrown,
And what strength I have’s mine own,
Which is most faint: now, ’tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardon’d the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands:
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon’d be,
Let your indulgence set me free.
Either click on the face or click HERE.
This is the John Gielgud as Prospero. Gielgud was responsible the fantasy drama film Prospero’s Books which was produced in 1991.
We looked especially today (in the tutorial) at how Shakespeare’s language (choice of words, phrases, rhythms, chiming sounds, punctuation) helps to bring his characters so vividly, texturally to life. Here for example is this amazing speech of Ariel’s who tells Prospero how he has managed to encircle the ship and bring its mariners to shore.:
Hast thou, spirit,
Perform’d to point the tempest that I bade thee?
To every article.
I boarded the king’s ship; now on the beak,
Now in the waist, the deck, in every cabin,
I flamed amazement: sometime I’ld divide,
And burn in many places; on the topmast,
The yards and bowsprit, would I flame distinctly,
Then meet and join. Jove’s lightnings, the precursors
O’ the dreadful thunder-claps, more momentary
And sight-outrunning were not; the fire and cracks
Of sulphurous roaring the most mighty Neptune
Seem to besiege and make his bold waves tremble,
Yea, his dread trident shake.
My brave spirit!
Who was so firm, so constant, that this coil
Would not infect his reason?
Not a soul
But felt a fever of the mad and play’d
Some tricks of desperation. All but mariners
Plunged in the foaming brine and quit the vessel,
Then all afire with me: the king’s son, Ferdinand,
With hair up-staring,–then like reeds, not hair,–
Was the first man that leap’d; cried, ‘Hell is empty
And all the devils are here.’
As the first Blog Topic for this week can you explain how Shakespeare seems to be able to make Ariel’s activities so physically, sensorially available to the reader and the audience? What is it about the word selection, the word placement, the punctuation, the rhythm, the allusions, that brings this text so amazingly, vividly to life?
This is the kind of work that needs to be done on Shakespeare’s language to bring the text meaningfully to life. If you have not listened to the tutorial for week 9 then do so and then answer this question.
Blog Topic 2: In Act 1 scene 2 what image do you get of Caliban? Is he being mistreated by Prospero.
Blog Topic 3
Write to Gonzalo telling him what you think of his ideal commonwealth and how you might modify some of his ideas. This is with reference to his description of the commonwealth he would like to create in Act 2 sc 1 line 147ff.