Monday, March 18, 2013

Man and HIS Magic in the Tempest

In the Renaissance, humanists championed the power and intricacies of mankind. In the Tempest, Shakespeare explores what makes a human, what makes education worthwhile and why language and learning is so powerful.

This extract from BBC's The Tempest shows the characters Prospero (sorcerer and Miranda's father, now ruler of the island), Miranda (Prospero's daughter, shipwrecked with him as a baby), Ariel (air/water spirit, good, native of the island) and Caliban (earth/fire spirit, evil, child of a sea witch, Sycorax who was left on the island by sailors and whose evil rule was later overturned by Prospero). Watch the clip with these ideas in mind:

Level One (Adventurer):
How do Prospero and Miranda deal with Caliban? 
What does he say "his only profit" of learning to speak is (at 5:57)?
Do you see any other good things about learning about other people or other languages?

Level Two (Explorer): answer the previous questions, plus...
How is Prospero able to control Caliban? 
How do knowledge and language indicate power and station? 
Thus, how does learning make a man?

Level Three (Courier?): answer the previous questions, plus...
Was Prospero right to enslave Caliban, and how does the answer depend on different interpretations of the actors' lines?
Just from these short minutes, what might be some contrasting views of mankind, learning, colonialism and slavery in the Renaissance?


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