The Masque • Masques were common during the Renaissance as colorful plays or parties • The plays were typically allegorical; wherein, the characters served as representations of human characteristics • In this case, Juno is the goddess of marriage, Ceres is the god of the harvest, and Iris is the goddess of the rainbow- all wishing them a prosperous marriage • Remember: this was first performed at a wedding- message could be meant for the newly weds
Interpretation Info • It should be noted that Prospero is literally playing the playwright • His play is also to inform a married couple • Prospero also uses language that doubles as theater speak • Rack • Pageant • Revels • Refers to the spirits as “actors”
Illusion • A constant motif is that of dreams and illusions. • Illusions can be mean both that of false images and false beliefs, and dreams are often short lived. • The island is full of both kinds and reminds us of how quick fortunes can change- yet another allusion to the title The Tempest. • Yea all of which inherit, shall dissolve, • And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, • Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff • As dreams are made on: and our little life • Is rounded with sleep. Sir I am vexed; (4.1.168-172) • What is Prospero so upset about? It is obvious he has the power to defeat Caliban, so why does he seem so tired?
Caliban’s Nature • Is he naturally evil? Did Prospero fail in raising him? • A devil, a born devil, on whose nature • Nurture can never stick; on whom my pains, • Humanely taken, all, all lost, quite lost; • And as with age his body uglier grows • So his mind cankers. I will plague them all, • Even to roaring. (4.1.206-211)
Prospero • What kind of man is he? • Bitter and tired • Loving and generous • Cruel and Vengeful • “At this hour lies at my mercy all mine enemies.”