The Tempest Critical Interpretation

Joe Brown
Mind Map by , created over 4 years ago

Just different interpretations of the play.

Joe Brown
Created by Joe Brown over 4 years ago
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The Tempest Critical Interpretation
1 Feminism
1.1 The only woman on stage is Miranda however Jessica Slights see's Miranda as "a prototype...who is chaste, silent and obedient".
1.1.1 Shakespeare oppresses Miranda - even putting her in a trance during A1S2. She is only 'freed' from once she marries Ferdinand. However, Mike Brett argues that "Miranda's apparent Freedom is entirely illusory". Prospero makes Ferdinand fall in love with Miranda to increase his status. She is treated like a possession - "then as my gift, and thine own acquisition/Worthily purchas'd, take my daughter".
1.2 Sycorax, although mentioned in the play is physically absent. Although, as noted by Thompson, she has been "long dead by the time the play's events take place".
1.2.1 However her absence is an extreme example of women lacking agency and representation. Helene Cixous claims that the dichotomy (division) between man and woman creates "the proliferation of representations" meaning that Prospero sees Sycorax as a representation of women. Her abscence gives Prospero the opportunity to construct her into a symbol of an evil woman, the opposite to himself; however, this construction makes her an antagonist to Prospero and the patriarchy he represents. Prospero constructs Sycorax as evil by using Loomba's "language of misogyny" by refferingt to her as a "foul witch", "damned witch" and "hag".
1.2.2 HOWEVER: Mary Beth Rose argues that the reason behind the absence of women in the play has other reasons than just pervasive patriarchy such as theatre etiquette and a shortage of young male actors able to play women.
1.3 HOWEVER: Gonzalo makes a very equality fuelled speech where he preaches to keep women "pure and innocent". Prospero also tries to protect Miranda's honour by threatening to kill Ferdinand if he breaks her "virgin knot".
2 Marxism
2.1 Marxism states that capitalism 'thrives on exploiting its labourers'.
2.1.1 Caliban is described using very derogatory terms. Prospero insults him: "Thou poisonous slave". He shows no respect for Caliban despite Caliban showing intelligence. Shakespeare shows Caliban more respect by letting him speak in blank verse compared to the foolish characters Stephano and Trinculo lesser characters. He also gives Caliban some of the most beautiful dialogue of the play. Caliban is given a lower status as demonstrated by the stage directions 'Enter Caliban, with a burthen of wood'. Shakespeare shows that Caliban is made to work for Prospero in horrific conditions yet Prospero is the only who gains from this - Caliban is not even paid a wage and is treated awfully.
3 Post-Colonialism
3.1 The Tempest has become the terminus a quo for post-colonial discussions.
3.1.1 Caliban is an ugly, libidinous, uncivilised creature. He is both subservient to the colonizer and resistant. This embodies the contradictory views - and maybe Shakespeare's contradictory feelings - of society towards colonization.
3.1.2 Brian Vickers says "the play is now unfortunately reduced to an allegory about colonialism"
3.2 The Native Americans were treated awfully and were also referred to as savages. However Samuel Taylor Colebridge says "Caliban is in some respects a noble being"
3.2.1 The fact he speaks in blank verse - just like Prospero, Alonso, Sebastian and Antonio - suggests he is intelligent and just as equal as them.
3.2.2 In John Locke's philosophy tabula rasa was the theory that at human birth the mind is a 'blank state'. Caliban had the potential to be kind and compassionate. Upon Prospero's arrival, Caliban shows him around the island. It is not until Caliban is enslaved that he begins to act cruelly. Prospero realises this - "this thing of darkness I/ Acknowledge mine"

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