Observe, too, the perfect probability of the moment chosen by Prospero (the very Shakspeare himself, as it were, of the tempest) to open out the truth to his daughter, his own romantic bearing, and how completely any thing that might have been disagreeable to us in the magician, is reconciled and shaded in the humanity and natural feelings of the father. In the very first speech of Miranda the simplicity and tenderness of her character are at once laid open; it would have been lost in direct contact with the agitation of the first scene. The opinion once prevailed, but, happily, is now abandoned, that Fletcher alone wrote for women; the truth is, that with very few, and those partial, exceptions, the female characters in the plays of Beaumont and Fletcher are, when of the light kind, not decent; when heroic, complete viragos. But in Shakspeare all the elements of womanhood are holy, and there is the sweet, yet dignified feeling of all that continuates society, as sense of ancestry and of sex, with a purity unassailable by sophistry, because it rests not in the analytic processes, but in that same equipoise of the faculties, during which the feelings are representative of all past experience,not of the individual only, but of all those by whom she has been educated, and their predecessors even up to the first mother that lived. Shakspeare saw that the want of prominence, which Pope notices for sarcasm, was the blessed beauty of the woman's character, and knew that it arose not from any deficiency, but from the more exquisite harmony of all the parts of the moral being constituting one living total of head and heart. He has drawn it, indeed, in all its distinctive energies of faith, patience, constancy, fortitude,shown in all of them as following the heart, which gives its results by a nice tact and happy intuition, without the intervention of the discursive faculty, sees all things in and by the light of the affections, and errs, if it ever err, in the exaggerations of love alone. In all the Shakspearian women there is essentially the same foundation and principle ; the distinct individuality and variety are merely the result of the modification of circumstances, whether in Miranda the maiden, in Imogen the wife, or in Katherine the queen.
The romance opens with a busy scene admirably appropriate to the kind of drama, and giving, as it were, the keynote to the whole harmony. It prepares and initiates the excitement required for the entire piece, and yet does not demand any thing from the spectators, which their previous habits had not fitted them to understand. It is the bustle of a tempest, from which the real horrors are abstracted;therefore it is poetical, though not in strictness natural(the distinction to which I have so often alluded)and is purposely restrained from concentering the interest on itself, but used merely as an induction or tuning for what is to follow.
And so begins the game of tit-for-tat. Stratfordians note that Shakespeare's name is printed on the title pages of many of the plays published during his lifetime. The Anti-Stratfordians point out that nobody even knows if that's how Shakespeare spelled his name: the only surviving examples of his handwriting are six scraggly signatures spelled several different ways. Those pro-Will say that some of Shakespeare's contemporaries mention him in their writings; the naysayers counter that they only refer to him as an actor, never explicitly as a playwright.
Then there's the apparent disconnect between the life that William Shakespeare lived and the ones he wrote about. Anti-Stratfordians claim that Shakespeare's plays show a keen grasp of literature, language, court life and foreign travel not the kinds of things that a small-town actor without a university education would be familiar with. As the Declaration says, "scholars know nothing about how he acquired the breadth and depth of knowledge displayed in the works." And so doubting scholars look to well-traveled writers and aristocrats essayist Francis Bacon; poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe; theater patron Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford as the more likely candidates.
This essay maintains that evidence against Shakespeare is weak and that there is no reason to doubt that William Shakespeare of Stratford was indeed the author of the plays and sonnets.
The Tempest is a specimen of the purely romantic drama, in which the interest is not historical, or depen-dent upon fidelity of portraiture, or the natural connexion of events,but is a birth of the imagination, and rests only on the coaptation and union of the elements granted to, or assumed by, the poet. It is a species of drama which owes no allegiance to time or space, and in which, therefore, errors of chronology and geographyno mortal sins in any speciesare venial faults, and count for nothing. It addresses itself entirely to the imaginative faculty; and although the illusion may be assisted by the effect on the senses of the complicated scenery and decorations of modem times, yet this sort of assistance is dangerous. For the principal and only genuine excitement ought to come from within,from the moved and sympathetic imagination; whereas, where so much is addressed to the mere external senses of seeing and hearing, the spiritual vision is apt to languish, and the attraction from without will withdraw the mind from the proper and only legitimate interest which is intended to spring from within.
A glossary of afflictions appears at the end of the essay.
: Discussion of Shakespeare's allusions to Scripture.: Discussion of the role of singers, instrumentalists, and dancers in Shakespeare's plays.
But, although the other excellences of the drama besides this dramatic probability, as unity of interest, with distinctness and subordination of the characters, and appropriateness of style, are all, so far as they tend to increase the inward excitement, means towards accomplishing the chief end, that of producing and supporting this willing illusion,yet they do not on that account cease to be ends themselves; and we must remember that, as such, they carry their own justification with them, as long as they do not contravene or interrupt the total illusion. It is not even always, or of necessity, an objection to them, that they prevent the illusion from rising to as great a height as it might otherwise have attained;it is enough that they are simply compatible with as high a degree of it as is requisite for the purpose. Nay, upon particular occasions, a palpable improbability may be hazarded by a great genius for the express purpose of keeping down the interest of a merely instrumental scene, which would otherwise make too great an impression for the harmony of the entire illusion. Had the panorama been invented in the time of Pope Leo X., Raffael would still, I doubt not, have smiled in contempt at the regret, that the broomtwigs and scrubby bushes at the back of some of his grand pictures were not as probable trees as those in the exhibition.
In this play are admirably sketched the vices generally accompanying a low degree of civilization; and in the first scene of the second act Shakspeare has, as in many other places, shown the tendency in bad men to indulge in scorn and contemptuous expressions, as a mode of getting rid of their own uneasy feelings of inferiority to the good, and also, by making the good ridiculous, of rendering the transition of others to wickedness easy. Shakspeare never puts habitual scorn into the mouths of other than bad men, as here in the instances of Antonio and Sebastian. The scene of the intended assassination of Alonzo and Gonzalo is an exact counterpart of the scene between Macbeth and his lady, only pitched in a lower key throughout, as de-signed to be frustrated and concealed, and exhibiting the same profound management in the manner of familiarizing a mind, not immediately recipient, to the suggestion of guilt, by associating the proposed crime with something ludicrous or out of place,something not habitually matter of reverence. By this kind of sophistry the imagination and fancy are first bribed to contemplate the suggested act, and at length to become acquainted with it. Observe how the effect of this scene is heightened by contrast with another counterpoint of it in low life,that between the conspirators Stephano, Caliban, and Trinculo in the second scene of the third act, in which there are the same essential characteristics.
THERE is a sort of improbability with which we are shocked in dramatic representation, not less than in a narrative of real life. Consequently, there must be rules respecting it; and as rules are nothing but means to an end previously ascertained(inattention to which simple truth has been the occasion of all the pedantry of the French school), we must first determine what the immediate end or object of the drama is. And here, as I have previously remarked, I find two extremes of critical decision;the French, which evidently presupposes that a perfect delusion is to be aimed at,an opinion which needs no fresh confutation; and the exact opposite to it, brought forward by Dr. Johnson, who supposes the auditors throughout in the full reflective knowledge of the contrary. In evincing the impossibility of delusion, he makes no sufficient allowance for an intermediate state, which I have before distin-guished by the term, illusion, and have attempted to illustrate its quality and character by reference to our mental state, when dreaming. In both cases we simply do not judge the imagery to be unreal; there is a negative reality, and no more. Whatever, therefore, tends to prevent the mind from placing itself, or being placed, gradually in that state in which the images have such negative reality for the auditor, destroys this illusion, and is dramatically improbable.
Write a position paper in which you agree with one of the following statements and support your opinion using the play The Tempest by William Shakespeare.
Note: To earn full credit you must tell why you agree with one of the statements and you must use the play The Tempest to support your stance.