Prospero Morreu

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  • Created by: Phoebe
  • Created on: 08-06-16 09:09


·      Form: updated version of tragedy

·      She has to engage with a vast cultural repertoire stretching all the way back to the antiquity

·      The assimilation of tradition is not a passive task, but an active one

·      Western tradition which has posited women in very narrow roles: domesticity, silent, as objects of desire

·      Need to rework images for a modern reader and audience: act of survival for their own identity

·      3 strands of literary tradition: classical antiquity, Shakespeare and the most canonical Portuguese writer, Camoes

·      She picks up these great men and myths from the past and puts her own spin on it

·      She’s not bound by national conventions, but seizing on a European repertoire

·      Literature is in fact transnational and cannot be pinpointed to one tradition

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Context: The Tempest

  • Prospero is a magician and strange things happen on his island
  • Two servants: Caliban and Ariel
  • Daughter Miranda ends up married and happy
  • Amaral only takes 2 characters from the play – Caliban and Ariel
  • Prospero is dead from the very beginning of the play – coffin in the middle of the stage
  • Stealing an idea from Fernando Pessoa – play called The Sailor – all about a mourning scene – coffin in the middle of the stage
  • Issue of mourning is significant
  • Caliban – important figure – the figure of the racially “other”
  • In Shakespeare he was not explicitly black, but with subsequent restaging he has often been staged as a monster, or black
  • Speaks to a post-colonial context
  • After the Revolution Portugal lost its colonies, and there was a huge influx of migration from Portuguese-speaking Africa – racial tensions
  • Myth of Luso-tropicalism – the Portuguese not being racist
  • Recovering Caliban as the figure of the racial other – very different to the imperial context in which Shakespeare was operating
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Context: Luis de Camoes

  • Earlier than Shakespeare
  • Amaral engages in an extensive dialogue with Camoes as a lyrical poet
  • The Genesis of Love – rewrites an intertexual dialect with Camoes
  • Love objects of his poetry acquire a voice of their own
  • Camoes appears with the old spelling “Luiz”, presented with Barbara, one of the women he supposedly loved (an Asian woman)
  • Concern for staging and a diversity of people to represent modern day Portugal
  • Endechas a Bárbara escrava – singing his love for a dark-skinned slave woman – Barbara being a pun on barbarous (not civilised)
  • Gendered difference between Caliban and Barbara (Caliban ***** Miranda)
  • Camoes is being revolutionary by declaring love for a slave and non-white woman
  • Highlights her dark eyes, dark hair
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Context: Classical mythology

  • Classical mythology
  • Figures of two different myths conflated into one
  • Odysseus and Penelope – waited faithfully for 20 years for her husband
  • The embodiment of the faithful wife who rejects suitors
  • Theseus and the Minotaur – relied on Ariadne and a thread to find his way out of the labyrinth
  • Penelope wove a tapestry and undid it every night – until she completed the tapestry she wouldn’t have to marry any suitors
  • The thread connects Penelope and Ariadne, who are reimagined as a mother-daughter pairing
  • Foregrounding of mother-daughter relations, often obscured in classical tradition (Miranda orphaned in the Tempest)
  • Female lineage is a deliberate move
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Post-colonial context

  • Universal play but targets Portuguese audience
  • Important in a post-colonial context
  • Luso-tropicalism – supposed that Portuguese people weren’t racist
  • One way process – white man with the black women
  • Encoded in Camoes
  • Opposite relation of white woman with a black man was entirely prohibited
  • Necesity of questioning the identity construction of Portugal
  • The glaring silence of the voicelessness of black people even in today’s Portugal
  • Represented by Barbara and Caliban
  • Staging – Caliban is behind everyone else – seen as most remote
  • Ariel is in the foreground, wearing a white mask
  • Great contrast between white masked Ariel and black Caliban
  • Noticeable that Caliban is not going to speak until halfway through the play
  • One of the commentary passages is one of Caliban’s first utterances
  • Ariel acts as a mock chorus – reminiscent of a classical tragedy
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Race: context

  • Play that engages with a revision of Western canonical literature
  • Revises history
  • Climax: Ariadne’s death
  • “Even when I have the impression of living on its threshold, the past is fundamental for me in understanding my identity” – ALA
  • The past we are alluding to is a colonial past
  • Dictatorship lasted for 40 years
  • Salazar came into power gradually, first as Finance Minister in 1928
  • Stabilised the budget and become increasingly powerful
  • 1932-33: the beginning of the Estado Novo (a dictatorship)
  • Lasted until 1974 and the April Revolution (S died in 1970)
  • ALA turns 60 this year, born in 1956
  • Grew up in the Salazar dictatorship, 18 in 1974
  • All her formative experiences happened under the dictatorship: no freedom of speech, rigid gender roles, colonialism
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  • 'E pelos interstícios do poder, através desses fios que Próspero teceu, ele escapou'
  • 'And through the interstices of power, through these threads woven by Prospero, he escaped' (alliteration, p15)
  • Prospero is equated with power
  • His servants (Ariel and Caliban) - subaltern
  • Famous essay: subaltern as voices of authority
  • Caliban is in the subaltern position as the racial other
  • Because Prospero has died, there is a turning point – he could be freed
  • Prospero is equated with the figure of Salazar
  • According to ALA, his ghost is still haunting our post-imperial present
  • Ghost of the monstrous African associated with Caliban in Shakespear
  • Once he starts speaking he is a fully fledged human being
  • Afforded a very moving love duet with Ariadne
  • The overbearing Theseus wouldn’t listen to what Ariadne is feeling
  • Caliban + Ariadne address each other with the tu form – emphasises the equality of their relationship
  • The clarity of the language, contrasts with convoluted scenes of Camoes and overblown metaphors about loving his slave
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- Barbara is the only other young woman of marriageable age

- Very little protagonism – racially other, a slave (double marginalisation)

- Last person to speak is Barbara

- P.54 – use of the future tense – dubitative – I wonder if my long plait is one merely of service to you. May the thread of my plait undo the spell.

- 'será de serventia a trança longa com que entreteci o vosso amor para mim?'

- 'Possa o fio dessa trança desfazer a magia'

- Longstanding association with hair and sexuality

- Man writes the poetry, Woman is the muse

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  • Theseus tries to seduce Ariadne with gifts
  • Dagger = phallic symbol
  • Dagger randomly found on the ground – subtle way that ALA deconstructs the symbol of authority
  • Is revenge worthwhile, is the cycle of violence worthwhile
  • The intervention of Ariel (functions as a chorus, linked to the idea of faith)
  • Gendered language – male servant feminised in this play
  • She changes over the course of the play
  • Penelope = subordinate, stuck in domesticity, emphasises gender roles
  • Begins to acquire her own voice –questioning the whole social structure which requires them to mourn Prospero (unjust tyrant)
  • Last few words are a declaration of love to Caliban
  • Still transgressive even on her deathbed
  • Honour-killing cannot silence her
  • Conventionally in 19th century literature, where adulterous women ended up dying (Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina)
  • Salazar – the old vulture
  • Asks a string of questions to make us reflect as she stages the murder in front of us
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The Literary Canon

·      A Room of One’s Own – Judith Shakespeare

·      Women need space so that female genius can flourish

·      She engages in the Western canon to establish a lineage

·      Engaging with a man-made canon creates problems for a female writer – she can only partially identify with it

·      The experiences which are being presented are very one-sided

·      In order to position herself in literary history a woman has to look back at both male and female predecessors

·      Camões – courtly love

·      Green in Portuguese culture is often associated with hope

·      Snake metaphor

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  • Odd one out
  • Race not specified in Shakespeare – class status = servant
  • Male servant (good) in the Tempest
  • White mask is a means of signalling the fact that normally whiteness is taken as the norm
  • Portrayed as female in Próspero Morreu
  • Conventionally in Greek tragedy any death happens off-stage
  • Ariadne’s death takes place on stage – foregrounds violence against women
  • Opening stage directions – island, fire, three women (mentioned first, around a fire, receiving the light) men are off-centre
  • Symbolic use of space: women are given centre stage
  • Fire associated with traditional (African?) storytelling
  • Associated with women who had lower rates of literacy than men
  • Various layers: Luís, Teseu and Caliban
  • Prospero – in a corner in an elevated position: make visible the extent to which he haunts the collective imagination
  • Ariel has opening and closing lines
  • Subtle variations between opening and closing lines
  • Perfect decasyllables – typical verse lines of sonnets
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Ariel (2)

  • Ariel has transitioned from a masculine character in the Tempest to a feminine character in Prospero Morreu
  • “coisa” described by Penelope
  • Both servants are objectified by the word “coisa”
  • The closing statement of Penelope redeems Ariel into something other – compares her to Prometheus
  • Ariel is happy to flag up her difference “nem homem nem mulher”
  • Deconstructing gender binaries
  • Mismatch between the role that has been given to Ariel according to tragedy – the chorus (pre-established role) and her gender affiliation which is very ambiguous
  • By foregrounding this discrepancy we get the idea of fate vs free will
  • ALA wants to deconstruct gender, often thought to be a given
  • Ariadne morreu – implies a displacement of the original title
  • Within each one of us there is a plurality of contradictory ways of seeing the world – allusion to Fernando Pessoa
  • Not a static play
  • Reference to one of the best known speeches of the 1960’s: Harold MacMillan, The Wind of Change
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