Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Power of Words in The Tempest

If each character in The Tempest were given an object to represent them, Prospero's would be a book. He was usurped because he spent his days studying, with his books he gained power on the island, and from the power of his books he made his revenge on those who usurped him. Of course, in the end, he decided to "drown my books" as soon as his revenge was complete, as seen in this clip:

Why would Shakespeare have Prospero make such a speech? Why drown books, the very thing that gave him power? Perhaps because Prospero's use of magic became too much, too powerful, and had to be checked.

During Shakespeare's time, many people had access to books because of the printing press. Shakespeare himself benefited from such changes, which allowed him to study great classics. But with this shift to more people being able to read, the potential for power increased, because information is power. This is where Prospero received his power, but he sent his power perhaps too far, as he enslaved others. He could have taken this all further, but settled with restoring his dukedom.

Prospero's part does encourage increasing knowledge, but also checking it to not take that knowledge too far.

1 comment:

  1. I love this idea, Jenna! I found this clip, too, but I thought it was a pretty far stretch for What a Work is Man theme. But for you--perfect! I think people would certainly be able to get that out of it if they were paying attention at all to the pre-lesson. :D