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The Tempest. The important intertextual/subtextual stuff… . Post-Colonial Theory & The Tempest. During the 15 th Century until the 19 th Century (1400s-1800s) Europe began its first colonial wave. This was a common occurrence in Shakespeare’s time.

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the tempest

The Tempest

The important intertextual/subtextual stuff…

post colonial theory the tempest
Post-Colonial Theory & The Tempest
  • During the 15th Century until the 19th Century (1400s-1800s) Europe began its first colonial wave.
  • This was a common occurrence in Shakespeare’s time.
  • The earth was being “discovered” and stories were coming back from distant lands. There were myths about the “cannibals” of the Carribean, of true Edens and distant utopias (an ideally perfect place)
post colonial theory the tempest1
Post-Colonial Theory & The Tempest
  • With the character Caliban (whose name is roughly anagrammatic to Cannibal), Shakespeare may be offering an in-depth discussion into the morality of colonialism.
  • Different views of this are found in the play, with examples including Gonzalo’s Utopia, Prospero’s enslavement of Caliban, and Caliban's subsequent resentment.
  • Caliban is also shown as one of the most natural characters in the play, being very much in touch with the natural world; and modern audiences have come to view him as far nobler than his two friends, Stephano and Trinculo, although the original intent of the author may have been different.
post colonial theory the tempest2
Post-Colonial Theory & The Tempest
  • From the mid 1950s more and more academics have studied The Tempest through a post-colonial lens. This new way of looking at the text explored the effect of the coloniser (Prospero) on the colonised (Ariel and Caliban). Though Ariel is often overlooked in these debates in favour of the more intriguing Caliban, he is nonetheless an essential character. Ariel is generally viewed by scholars as the good servant, in comparison with the conniving Caliban—a view which Shakespeare's audience may well have shared. Ariel is used by some postcolonial writers as a symbol of their efforts to overcome the effects of colonisation on their culture
post colonial theory in the tempest
Post-colonial theory in The Tempest
  • The Tempest explores many different aspects of colonialism:
  • Europeans’ appropriation of and exploitation of foreign territories
  • Europeans’ subordination of indigenous populations (such as the different treatment of Caliban and Ariel)
  • Europeans’ claims that they are colonizing to bring Christianity and civilization (Prospero’s taking credit for the fact that he has taught Caliban how to speak and the fact that he has liberated Ariel)
  • Europeans’ use of colonialism as a way to let off pressure from their own social conflicts (for instance Prospero’s exile on Caliban’s island after he has been deposed by Sebastian; Gonzalo’s vision of an island society that would correct all of the bad things about Europe; lower-class men like Stephano and Trinculo seeking to exploit Caliban and set themselves up as rulers of the colonized space)
post colonial theory in the tempest1
Post-colonial theory in The Tempest
  • Caliban has been ensalved, as was the case of native people being "colonized" by conquering nations.  He suffers as a result, receiving alcohol and misunderstanding the "gift" and the giver because he is not accustomed to this culture.  He reacts by devising a plot, wanting Stephano to be leader of the island.  He struggles against his enslavement, but like so many colonies, he does not realize that his own choice of leader could be just as destructive.  Post-colonial Africa is dealing with this still, having ousted nations of Europe only to find themselves in civil war, and hugely unstable.  Similarly, other "natives" are easily distracted by the wealth of Prospero, and are drawn to it, leaving behind their need for rebellion.  Comfort exceeds freedom.
colonising caliban
Colonising Caliban
  • More important than the emphasis on the way in which Caliban seems to others more monster than man, is the way in which this scene dramatizes the initial encounter between an almost completely isolated, “primitive” culture and a foreign, “civilized” one. The reader discovers during Caliban and Prospero’s confrontation in Act I, scene ii that Prospero initially “made much of” Caliban (II.ii.336); that he gave Caliban “Water with berries in’t” (II.ii.337); that Caliban showed him around the island; and that Prospero later imprisoned Caliban, after he had taken all he could take from him. The reader can see these events in Act II, scene ii, with Trinculo and Stephano in the place of Prospero. Stephano calls Caliban a “brave monster,” as they set off singing around the island. In addition, Stephano and Trinculo give Caliban wine, which Caliban finds to be a “celestial liquor” (II.ii.109). Moreover, Caliban initially mistakes Stephano and Trinculo for Prospero’s spirits, but alcohol convinces him that Stephano is a “brave god” and decides unconditionally to “kneel to him” (II.ii.109–110). This scene shows the foreign, civilized culture as decadent and manipulative: Stephano immediately plans to “inherit” the island (II.ii.167), using Caliban to show him all its virtues. Stephano and Trinculo are a grotesque, parodic version of Prospero upon his arrival twelve years ago. Godlike in the eyes of the native, they slash and burn their way to power.
  • How would Gonzalo rule the island if it were his?
  • How might Stephano the drunken Butler rule if it were his?
  • Look at …
gonzalo s idea of governance
Gonzalo’s Idea of Governance
  • Gonzalo’s fantasy about the plantation he would like to build on the island is a remarkable poetic evocation of a utopian society, in which no one would work, all people would be equal and live off the land, and all women would be “innocent and pure.” This vision indicates something of Gonzalo’s own innocence and purity. Shakespeare treats the old man’s idea of the island as a kind of lovely dream, in which the frustrations and obstructions of life (magistrates, wealth, power) would be removed and all could live naturally and authentically. Though Gonzalo’s idea is not presented as a practical possibility (hence the mockery he receives from Sebastian and Antonio), Gonzalo’s dream contrasts to his credit with the power-obsessed ideas of most of the other characters, including Prospero. Gonzalo would do away with the very master-servant motif that lies at the heart of The Tempest.
stephano s idea of governance
Stephano’s Idea of Governance
  • Stephano muses about the kind of island it would be if he ruled it—“I will kill this man [Prospero]. His daughter and I will be King and Queen . . . and Trinculo and thyself [Caliban] shall be viceroys” (III.ii.101–103)
  • Stephano wants to employ a totalitarian type of regime. This contrasts significantly with Gonazalo’s vision.
  • Totalitarian: where an individual dictator monopolises political power and controls every element of society.
doubles a predominant technique
Doubles: A predominant technique.
  • As we have seen, one of the ways in which The Tempest builds its rich aura of magical and mysterious implication is through the use of doubles: scenes, characters, and speeches that mirror each other by either resemblance or contrast.
  • Caliban/Stephano/Trimnculo double and parody what Prospero does throughout the play. The three wander aimlessly about the island, and Stephano muses about the kind of island it would be if he ruled it, just as Gonzalo had done while wandering with Antonio and Sebastian in Act II, scene i.
  • The power-hungry servants Stephano and Trinculo thus become rough parodies of the power-hungry courtiers Antonio and Sebastian. All four men are now essentially equated with Caliban, who is, as Alonso and Antonio once were, simply another usurper.
the feminist critique1
The Feminist Critique
  • The Tempest has only one female character, Miranda. Other women, such as Caliban's mother Sycorax, Miranda's mother and Alonso's daughter Claribel, are only mentioned. Because of the small role women play in the story in comparison to other Shakespeare plays, The Tempest has not attracted much feminist criticism. Miranda is typically viewed as being completely deprived of freedom by her father. Her only duty in his eyes is to remain chaste. It has been argued that she is typical of women in a colonial atmosphere, has completely accepted the patriarchal order of things, thinking of herself as subordinate to her father.
  • The less-prominent women mentioned in the play are subordinated as well, as they are only described through the men of the play. Most of what is said about Sycorax, for example, is said by Prospero. Prospero has never met Sycorax — all he learned about her he learned from Ariel. It can be argued that Prospero's suspicion of women makes him an unreliable source of information.
shakespeare s recurring comedic themes intertextual relationships with other comedies
  • In this play are themes of love at first sight, magic as a controlling device, revenge, usurpation & inordinate ambition.
  • What other plays deal with these themes? To what extent are they similar? Discuss with a mate and feed back…
also msnd tempest
Also… MSND & Tempest
  • Like Puck & Oberon (MSND) Prospero & Ariel are a devoted master & servant combo.
  • In both MSND & Tempest magic is needed to get regain order. This shows Shakespeare’s feelings on magic – he appreciates what it can achieve.
  • Both Puck & Ariel lead mortal characters to their end destination (lovers & Ferdinand & Alonso and Co)
  • Lastly, both plays aim to gain order from Chaos.
exam qts
Exam Qts
          • Use the following extracts as a starting point to discuss the change from revenge to forgiveness that is shown in the play.
          • Your discussion should involve comparison of the passages AND some consideration of the play as a whole.
  • ACT ONE, SCENE TWO, lines 187–214 ACT FIVE, SCENE ONE, lines 19–36
“Shakespearean plays are mainly concerned with the clash between a notable individual and his / her society.”
          • Use The Tempest to focus a discussion on the extent to which this is true.
  • You may confine your discussion to The Tempest or include other Shakespearean plays you have studied.
Use the following extracts as a starting point to discuss the change in Prospero and Caliban’s
  • relationship in the play.
  • Your discussion should involve comparison of the passages AND some consideration of the play
  • as a whole.
  • ACT ONE, SCENE TWO, lines 376–402 ACT FIVE, SCENE ONE, lines 302–331
Shakespeare uses ‘the supernatural’ to reveal the inner desires and / or fears of his characters.
  • Use The Tempest to focus a discussion on the extent to which this is true.
  • You may confine your discussion to The Tempest or include other Shakespearean plays you have
  • studied.
  • In addition to the skills and knowledge required for the award of Achievement, candidates
  • who were awarded Achievement with Merit commonly:
  • • wrote extensively in response to the question, considering wider aspects of the play
  • • showed a degree of insight and higher level thought
  • • demonstrated a mature response with an awareness of the author’s craft
  • • included personal observations or lessons that they had understood from studying the play
  • • included judiciously chosen quotes and wove these into the body of the essay
  • • demonstrated an ability to write in clear lucid English.
  • In addition to the skills and knowledge required for the award of Achievement with Merit,
  • candidates who were awarded Achievement with Excellence commonly:
  • • showed extensive knowledge of the play, and made apt references to critical works about the
  • play
  • • related their understanding of the play to wider human issues, including modern-day events, to
  • indicate a broader knowledge of themes
  • • showed an awareness of both modern and Shakespearean audiences (placed the audience)
  • • wrote fluently and accurately, often extensively
  • NCEA English Level 3 Assessment Report, 2009 – page 5 of 7
  • 5
  • • used high quality, academic language in their responses, with mature understanding of essay
  • structure and logical sequencing of argument.
‘No Achievement’ may be characterised by some of the following:
  • • weaknesses in organisation and / or stylistic control
  • • randomness and uncritical response – may be short and / or simplistic
  • • insufficient knowledge of the text(s)
  • • insufficient link with the question
  • • reliance upon plot
  • • lack of references to, or detail from, the text
  • • some relevant points, but without much support for them
  • • little personal response or appreciation
  • • likely to be shorter than 400 words.