The Tempest–Acts IV & V

Sorry about that brief hiatus yesterday.


Scenes in which gods come out of the sky will probably always strike me as a “what…the…” moment. In Cymbaline, I was just like, “What do I do with this.” But at least in Cymbaline, it was some kind of representation of fate, or something–no, Isis, Juno, Ceres, the big three ladies of mythology–but here, they are under the control of Prospero. Perhaps all things are under the power of fortune? If we are to go by this airy, head-in-the-clouds thinking, that Prospero is a physical manifestation of fortune, than what does it mean when fortune acts so forgiving and kindly to his enemies? That doesn’t sound like the fortune I know…

Or, does it?

Tangent aside, there’s more things to say about Prospero’s actions and words than I have the time or ability to say or even think. While reading the last two acts, I’ve been trying to think of a clear way of articulating what his character operates as in the story, because he is the driving principle of every action within it. But I haven’t thought of a way of clearly putting him into a mold of driving characters.


I just want to end on a final note about the epilogue. It’s spoken by Prospero as a petition to the audience to allow him to be free. Ariel servant to Prospero, having done all he wanted, he was allowed his freedom. Now, here we have the driving design behind the whole play making the same petition to the audience. I would say this is because he has been under our power, his power goes only as far as our suspension of disbelief will allow, and now the play is over, and it is time to leave this crazy island and return.


The Tempest–Act III

So we open with some lovey dovey, I will always serve you, you’re super cute, etc.etc.


I really just want to talk about the third scene. I’m not in a particularly mood to fangirl over two lovers today. My comments today are brief.

Firstly, the scene opens to Alonso’s loss of hope–a despair which fits the ambitions of Sebastian and Antonio. Despair in good men is hope for evil deeds, eh?

So, the enchanted banquet–the bad guys go forth to eat, while the ones of better character stay back. And here’s where Ariel emerges and calls them out on their transgressions. He addresses his statements to everyone, but only those who have done something to feel guilt actually feel guilty. Sebastian and Antonio shrug it off, while Alonso is affected–good men hear their detractions and “put them to mending” as Benedick from Much Ado would say.



As I said, today is a brief day. any thoughts or comments are appreciated.

The Tempest–Act II

So, on a completely unrelated note, here’s a dipiction of Caliban:


Here’s what I’ve been picturing in my head:

Preciousssss, nasty masters, nasty Prospero, we likes the nice masters, the nice masters that gives us wines, yes, Precious, we does.

Preciousssss, nasty masters, nasty Prospero, we likes the nice masters, the nice masters that gives us wines, yes, Precious, we does.

End of side note.

Gonzalo is being jeered at by the conspirators, Sebastian and Antonio, which obviously means we are to trust Gonzalo and take him seriously. I say “obvious” because we already know from the last act that Gonzalo was the man who helped Prospero when he was driven to this isle. Also, the conspirators are jerks. And generally, jerks don’t like good people. It’s like the unwritten rule number one of jerkdom.

So, supposing we take Gonzalo seriously, what are we to make of his comment on the effect of the salt water on everyone’s garments? He’s not making a point about fashion…oh, no, the lit major in me is beginning to rear her head…perhaps the significance of their apparel–which the “bad guys” fail to notice, because they lack any ability to see good things–is that there is a correlation of their exterior state on the island and their own interior state, putting them in a position set apart from the world they knew before.

Ugh, she’s gone now.

That said, Antonio makes a very interesting distinction about hope. Sebastian has no hope that the prince is alive, but Antonio says this is where hope lies. He’s equating hope with ambition. There is hope in ambition to usurp power, now that there is no heir to the throne of Naples.



In the next scene, we’re on the verge of a second storm. Is Prospero behind this one too? That remains to be seen.

We’re introduced to two fools–a jester and a drunkard–and I have an affinity for Shakespearean fools. Caliban renounces Prospero for Stephano (the drunkard) on account that “the liquor is not earthly”( II.ii.124). I find this interesting, because his master is obviously a true-blue magician–Caliban knows real magic by his service to Prospero, who possesses an unearthly magic–and he’s rejecting his knowledge of other-earthly powers for the sake of a very real and earthly power–i.e. wine.

Small list of other little notes:

  1. Antonio gets pretty angry at Gonzalo’s comment that Dido is a widow. I don’t know how to look at this, someone help me out here.
  2. Trinculo makes a point that the “dead” monster that is Caliban would fit in perfectly with the “beasts” that are in England.
  3. What is the point of Ariel’s song when it makes everyone sleepy except for Antonio and Sebastian?

The Tempest–Act I

You may be aware that I didn’t make a post for the final act of Julius Caesar. I basically didn’t feel like repeating myself, so I didn’t find it necessary to post.



Now, I must admit something. Whenever I read a storm in a Shakespeare play, I instinctively categorize it as one of the following–My criticism sometimes is from habit. So, when the act opened, I thought one of the three things:

  1. The storm is the external manifestation of a disposition of one of the most important characters
  2. It is symbolic of the indomitable forces of nature, that pass and continue despite human life and death that takes place within it’s workings.
  3. It symbolizes Divine nature.

The act that follows, however, reveals that this tempest doesn’t fit my usual criteria. It’s all three of the aforementioned, and it’s also none of the above. I don’t know what I’d do if I were given a multiple choice exam question in regard to the tempest.

The storm sets up the revenge of Prospero. And, let’s take a minute to look at that name. Prospero means fortunate, from the Latin “Prosper” which takes a modern English meaning as prosperous. Now, given that his dukedom was usurped and he wound up on an island, Prospero doesn’t seem that fortunate. However, he was usurped because he took no interest in affairs of the state, but rather devoted himself to study, and even cast away onto an island, he continues learning. Pretty cool, if I do say so myself. Oh, and he’s constantly speaking of how fortune has fallen upon him in regards to the storm–for which he is responsible–and he’s also a magician? I’m looking forward to this unfolding. I love when Shakespeare gives me a great name and an interesting character. It’s like a little gift for people who like words.

Prospero Caliban and Miranda


I have a rant at hand, and I’m debating whether or not to go on for a long time, or making a bullet point of things that I’ve notices in the second scene. Hmm. Decisions.

Let’s just make a list for the sake of easy reading and easy writing.

  • The pity of Caliban is manifested in teaching his words, to name things, and to know things. He’s far from something human, we could say he bares the mark of Cain, but we may be stretching it, but he’s given the gift and duty of man–words and naming.
  • It is through words and language that Ferdinand recognizes Prospero and Miranda as human.
  • Music brings Ferdinand to seeing the lovely Miranda
  • Ariel–actually, I have nothing to say to this, other than I really like him. Looking forward to seeing him free. And why he wants freedom and what he plans to do with his freedom.

It’s probably apparent I was going to go on a long-winded tangent concerning words. But, the points are made, and I am exhausted on thoughts.

King Lear–Act III

I’m going to throw this out there, hopefully without making anyone think I’m a jaded and terrible person who loves violent scenes and people going insane–but I think this is my favorite act of the play. Every time I read it or see it, I am tricked–I know what is going to happen, but there is always an alternate option that I’m hoping the characters take this time.


So, two main points of discussion: the tempest and the blinding of Gloucester. We’ll begin with the first.

The tempest is many things:

  1. It is the great and natural equalizer. King, servant, fool, nature does not treat them differently because of their status. However, it’s not a symbol about how lovely equality is–it is a sad sad depiction of how low that Lear has come, for his fool and servant have become wiser than he. (Forgive me, for I am once again going to quote from my Kindle, so I do not have specific line numbers.) “Take physic, pomp;/Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,/That thou mayst shake the superflux to them,/And show the heavens more just” (III.iv). Lear is saying this to the fool, but as well to himself and the tempest. He is shed of every possible outward sign of his kingship–that which separates him from beasts. 
  2. To get super lit. major on you: the storm is the external reflection of Lear’s internal battle. 
  3. Lear begins to serve his servants and look to a madman as his councilor.

There are many more things that can be said about the storm, but I’m beginning to lose my train of thought. So onwards to Gloucester.



First and foremost–this happens on stage. We see this horrific act happen–it is not just given to our imagination. Is that actually better? Is it worse? I’ve heard it said before that King Lear is a play that cannot be fully conveyed upon the stage–that we actually have to imagine a scene like this for it to hit home. And it does, at least for me, every single time I read it.

So, the theme is blindness–duh, we could see this from a mile away. From Kent’s plea to Lear before he is banished to Gloucester’s inability to see that Edmund is a conniving jerk, there has been a very apparent blindness going on throughout the whole play. And now we have to see it. Literally. When you take something from the figurative to the literal, you’re making a big, big statement. And I want to say it has to do with those very first lines–no one can see their own faults. Gloucester is joking about his lust that conceived Edmund, like it isn’t a problem that he created and is responsible for a life, right at the opening. Lear thinks that “nothing” is a measurement of love–but “nothing” is boundless and immeasurable. They take whatever is given them, the “face-value” and cannot conceive of truth beyond their senses.

Directly after Gloucester has his eyes gauged out, he realizes Edgar is innocent. He has taken all that Edmund has said, and now truth is revealed through his loss of sight. Lear becomes mad–madness is itself an inability to see reality, however, he was already unable to see what was real insofar as we think about the love of his children.


We, as an audience, see the characters for how they truly are from their actions–we have no doubt who in this play is evil and who is good, it is a clear-cut line. We only have two characters who act upon how things seem, and not how they are. And the ramifications, well, look at them.

I want to say more–about feigned madness, about the servant who dies, about nature, about the imagined trial that Lear puts on–but I promised myself to only speak about these two things.

Until tomorrow.