“O, wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is!
O brave new world,
That has such people in't!” –Miranda, Act V Scene I, The Tempest, Shakespeare
The Tempest is Shakespeare’s most original play. This quote is one of the most famous and shows how full of wonder and hope the main female protagonist is as she faces new people and challenges. Why is she so full of hope? Should she be afraid of what is unknown and unfamiliar? Shakespeare shows how people in his time dealt with the “Brave New Worlds” of his day and of the few ways to cope with it: Dominate it or Embrace it. In the end, a combination of both of them seems to be the best way to handle oneself when faced with new lands and new opportunities.
While Domination is a sub-theme explored by many in the play, none know it better than Prospero and Caliban. Caliban’s mother ruled a mysterious island until Prospero showed up. Caliban said
“This island's mine, by Sycorax my mother,
Which thou takest from me. When thou camest first,
Thou strokedst me and madest much of me, wouldst give me
Water with berries in't, and teach me how
To name the bigger light, and how the less,
That burn by day and night: and then I loved thee
And show'd thee all the qualities o' the isle,
The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile”-Act I, Scene 2.
Prospero had freed Caliban from the tyranny of Sycorax who was a witch. He taught Caliban an education and Caliban returned this education in kind. However, he was not fully enthralled with Prospero’s rule either.
“Cursed be I that did so! All the charms
Of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light on you!
For I am all the subjects that you have”
This disdain for his master leads Caliban to another two men who are ambitious about the island to which they have arrived: Trinculo and Stephano. Now in order to understand this new world to which they have encountered, they frequently refer back to their old one in order to bring understanding to it. Caliban’s encounter with these men was new for him and them.
Old World Vs. New World
“A strange fish! Were I in England now,
as once I was, and had but this fish painted,
not a holiday fool there but would give a piece
of silver: there would this monster make a
man; … this is no fish,
but an islander, that hath lately suffered by a
thunderbolt” .-Trinculo, Act II, Scene II.
In seeking out these new lands there seems to be a give and take about how much of the old world you must bring with you. In Trinculo’s and Stephano’s case, they bring all of the old world with them and share it with Caliban. Clothes, liquor, and titles abound with these three and they go about the island. Prospero brought a small part of the old world with him: his books.
Prospero’s story is about how he lost his dukedom due to his obsession with reading. We see as the audience how he could have avoided his fate had he just left his study and not left sole power to his brother. As Prospero then is banished to this new isle, he brings with him his books and learning and shows how what failed in the old world could be adapted to the new one.
Part of the allure of the island is this new freedom that all experience. All the rules and regulations that existed before can be thrown out the window. Gonzalo in trying to help alleviate Alonso’s pain, imagines the island if he were to be king on it. Instead of a typical kingship Gonzalo imagines a society with “No sovereignty” (Act II, Scene I).
Notes: I am missing a conclusion. I intend to cite The Tempest and the Introduction part of our eBook in its discussion of Shakspeare’s reading of travel journal’s and their influence on Shakespeare’s perception of the new world. I also intend to show how Prospero’s attempt to educate Caliban fails but his attempt to exact vengeance at the end of the play is successful. The point I’m arguing is that Shakspeare shows us that we need to conquer new worlds and try new methods of thinking to grow out of our old world. I’m also missing secondary sources to strengthen my argument. So far this is just representative of my close reading and keeping in mind our past class discussion.
Questions: Would my mentioning of Shakspeare’s travel journal readings be relevant to the argument I’m making?
You can see the structure my chapter is forming here in this rough first draft, is the organization good?
Is my argument sound? Does it highlight the theme adequately?
I intend to include more quotes and give better commentary in arguing the bigger thesis claim.I will include Ferdinand and Miranda’s admiration of eachother among the other quotes and points I brought up in my Notes section. Should I include other quotes to strengthen my argument?
Is the picture good? I have another one with a sunset on an island mountain. These are public domain pictures. Should I cite where I got the photos too?
Thank You Fellow Classmates and Professor For helping me understand this play better and explore the six themes of our eBook. I'm getting more excited about it.