Random notes for Shakespeare's 'The Tempest'


BBC Radio 4 - ''In Our Time''- The Tempest

Katherine Duncan-Jones

Indoor theatres- use of effects, more dependent on the visual spectucal. Age of exploration. 

Age of possible of trees and plants and inhuman things being completely unknown to European people

Prospero and his values is very authoritarian and European.

It was written around the time when colonisation came about, taking supplies to Virginia 

Montaigne- Human Experiences, New world, new customs, new people, cannibalism, Utopian Visions, theatre and art.

Montaigne's essay 'Of the Cannibals'- relatively of knowledge, Shakespeare is influenced by Montaigne's essays. There are other ways of living that European could learn from, looks at it with a New Upotian Vision, Shakespeare shows Montaigne through Gonzalo speech which he says when he gets of the ship and on to the island. Caliban is a direct anagram of Cannibal. Gonzalo says he would rule without 'sovereignty'.

Most of Shakespeare's plays plots are taken from other plays, however 'The Tempest' is completely the work of Shakespeare which may be why the structure of it is very different. The structure itself explores theatre and art. Prospero is very much in control of the play, including the masque.

Very short play

Does the politics at the time affect the play? His later plays are concerned with families, and who the monarchs married was also important. King James was also interested in Magic (on of the motifs)

Most characters are autocratic characters in verse but Stephano and Trinculo are working class and the most ordinary characters out of Shakespeare's characters and they speak in prose. They are the representative of the ordinary theatre goers. 'Monsters could make a man', they think of taking Caliban to England to exhibit him and make them some money. 

Interpretation of Caliban changes over time- late 19th century around 1900 production which was much more sympathetic towards Caliban- speaks the most beautiful


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