Prospero seems to know precisely what he wants. Beginning with the tempest at the top of the play, his project is laid out in a series of steps. "Bountiful fortune" has given him a chance to affect his destiny, and that of his county and family.
In the denouement of the play, Prospero enters into a parabasis (a direct address to the audience). In his book Back and Forth the poet and literary critic Siddhartha Bose argues that Prospero's epilogue creates a "permanent parabasis" which is "the condition of [Schlegelian] Romantic Irony". Prospero, and by extension Shakespeare, turns his absolution over to the audience. The liberation and atonement Prospero 'gives' to Ariel and Caliban is also handed over to the audience. However, just as Prospero derives his power by "creating the language with which the other characters are able to speak about their experiences", so too the mechanics and customs of theatre limit the audience's understanding of itself and its relationship to the play and to reality. Four centuries after original productions of the play audiences are still clapping at the end of The Tempest, rewarding Prospero for recreating the European hegemony. One need not change the text of The Tempest for feminist and anti-colonial reproductions. All that is needed is a different kind of audience, one that is aware of itself and its agency.
In 1674, Thomas Shadwell re-adapted Dryden and Davenant as an opera of the same name, usually meaning a play with sections that were to be sung or danced. Restoration playgoers appear to have regarded the Dryden/Davenant/Shadwell version as Shakespeare's: Samuel Pepys, for example, described it as "an old play of Shakespeares" in his diary. The opera was extremely popular, and "full of so good variety, that I cannot be more pleased almost in a comedy" according to Pepys. Prospero in this version is very different from Shakespeare's: Eckhard Auberlen describes him as "reduced to the status of a Polonius-like overbusy father, intent on protecting the chastity of his two sexually naive daughters while planning advantageous dynastic marriages for them." The operatic Enchanted Island was successful enough to provoke a parody, The Mock Tempest, or The Enchanted Castle, written by Thomas Duffett for the King's Company in 1675. It opened with what appeared to be a tempest, but turns out to be a riot in a brothel.
This scene, which depicts the tempest (the storm) of the title and the wreck of the ship which has brought the court party (Alonso, Antonio, Sebastian, Gonzalo, Ferdinand and the other lords) to the island, serves multiple functions.
The Play on Shakespeare series is a delightful introduction to some of the characters, themes, and literary devices that make Shakespeare so well-loved. The beautiful illustrations bring the play to life and the color-coded text highlights and defines literature elements in the story, both contributing to a rich, multi-layered experience. Prospero and his lovely daughter Miranda live alone on the tiny island where they were marooned years ago, with only the island creatures for company. That is, until a powerful storm brings a boat full of strangers to the island. Magic and mystery fill the island and these pages as the story unfolds in a delightful introduction to this classic play.
Early modern literary engagement with the occult tends to focus on its extremes and potential for spectacle, particularly on stage. Faustian figures conjure, dabble in dark practices such as necromancy, and ultimately repent of their desire for knowledge. When writers turn to comedy and satire, the lesson is slightly different: the joke is on those characters foolish enough to seek out the help of a magician, who is actually a conman. The occult manifests differently in poetry, with occult ideas becoming part of poetic form as well as content. Poetry is a flexible medium for exploring occult ideas through figurative and metaphorical language. Early scientific language also relied upon figurative language for some time before it achieved its own set of linguistic standards, and so there is a significant overlap between the creative, the magical, and the more scientific expressions of wonder, discovery, and knowledge.
With her study of contemporary fiction by women that appropriates and adapts Shakespeare, Julie Sanders has contributed a probing text to the growing field of similar investigations, including Adaptations of Shakespeare, edited by Daniel Fischlin and Mark Fortier (2000), Shakespeare and Appropriation, edited by Christy Desmet and Robert Sawyer (1999), and Marianne Novy's Transforming Shakespeare (1999). In ten chapters, Sanders sets out to show how thirteen late twentieth-century "women novelists engage in this parallel process of textual takeover and adaptation - the rendering apposite or appropriate, as it were, of Shakespearean drama in a new context" (Sanders 2001, 3). Specifically, Sanders looks at the generic context and asks, "what politics are at stake when women revise Shakespeare in the form of a prose narrative?"(3). Finding the answer to this question leads Sanders to examine the complicating role that intertextuality and twentieth-century literary criticism play in the novels that she explores. Through intertexts and the lens of literary theory, Sanders asserts that women writers critique, revise, and rethink Shakespeare to question the silencing and marginalization of female characters in his plays. 2b1af7f3a8