Pepys was not alone in admiring the play. The emphasis on textual adaptation that often dominates scholarship in this field, however, fails to do justice to this very distinct identity of Restoration Shakespeare.
This will not only result in a renewed appreciation of the Restoration stage spectacle, but will create fresh theatrical experiences that are meaningful to audiences today. Filed Under: Macbeth. Click here to cancel reply. Research and Discovery. William Davenant. Print of an engraving. Folger Shakespeare Library. ART File D New theatrical tastes From early on, major differences between Restoration and Elizabethan theatre were apparent.
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John Dryden. The play's interest in Providence and power extends into the two major areas of conflict and controversy in the period--the conquest of the Americas and the political struggles at home in Europe. The island serves this double focus well by being located in the Mediterranean and by also having characteristics of the more distant islands of the West Indies. It is indeed a descendent of a no-place island such as Thomas More's Utopia, a place uncannily apart from and yet of a piece with the world, in terms of which the artist is free to think experimentally about the events, ideas, and people of the real world.
Throughout the sixteenth century, the central justification for the take-over of the Amerindians had been that Europe had a religious duty to convert the "savages.
Critics of the European "mission" pointed to the barbarity of the European treatment of the Amerindians and to the already developed culture and religion of the so-called savages. He would also have read Montaigne's high praise of the cannibals: "They spend the whole day in dancing. The young men go a hunting after wild beasts with bows and arrows. They believe their souls to be eternal, and those that have deserved well of their gods, to be placed in that part of heaven where the sun riseth, and the cursed toward the west in opposition" Montaigne Elsewhere he lauds their lyric poetry: "this invention hath no barbarism at all in it, but is altogether anachreontic [i.
What does the native Caliban in this case get from the colonizers? What does he have to give up?
It is noteworthy that while he apparently had no language before Prospero and Miranda taught him theirs, he nevertheless remembers non-European words like "scamels" or the name of his mother's god, "Setebos," which Shakespeare picked up from one of the New World travel narratives Frey, " Tempest and the New World," Caliban claims ownership of the island on the strength of inheritance from his mother.
Native religion, a mother tongue though not his mother's tongue, since she was not American , a sense of ancestry, and a right to a homeland based on ancestry are stripped from Caliban by the Europeans. He also suffers corporal punishment at the hands of Prospero, especially being hunted by dogs, which is reminiscent of the reports of Spanish mistreatment of the Indians.
In recompense, he receives European language, to which he adds an American dimension, and it is this language that gives him his expressive individuality and personal dignity, even as he is playing the slave to Ferdinand; the Europeans become his community, one that even seems potentially redemptive for him; and at the end he seems to learn a valuable lesson about not enslaving himself to "drunkards" and "dull fools. There is no indication that he has become a Christian; the only suggestion that he has joined a Christian community is his statement at the end that he will "seek for grace," by which he means clemency from Prospero and which might also refer to grace of a higher order.
In a formal debate against de las Casas, the Spanish theologian Juan Gines de Sepulveda defended his country's conquest of the Amerindians in these classical terms: "Those who exceed others in prudence and intelligence, if not in physical strength, are by nature masters; those, on the other hand, who are mentally slow and lazy, though they may have the physical strength to fulfill all their necessary obligations, are by nature slaves, and it is just and useful that they be" Sepulveda Caliban is at some moments answerable to this description, and in so far as he is naturally slavish, he can stand as an argument for the natural justice of European domination of the Amerindians.
In many respects, he is indeed very unlike Montaigne's naturally noble cannibals, whose austere, ethical warrior culture shines out against what Montaigne portrays as the corruption and cruelty of so-called civilized people. On the other hand, Caliban keeps up a fairly courageous verbal campaign against Prospero, he uses slavishness to manipulate Stephano into joining a real war against Prospero, and he seems to have a capacity for intellectual and moral advancement as well as an aptitude for poetry, all of which make him perhaps more like than unlike Montaigne's cannibals.
It opened a public discussion about one of the most pressing political questions of the period: are subjects justified in following the dictates of their consciences rather than the commands of their monarch? From to , the national religion changed several times, shifting back and forth between Catholicism and Protestantism under the rule of Henry and the reigns of his offspring. Across Europe, the Reformation unsettled religious and political unity and sparked people's thinking about the claims of individual conscience against the demands of political obedience.
In England, the issue was particularly urgent because the English were outgunned by the great Catholic powers of Europe, Spain especially, and subjects who felt entitled to follow their conscience might undertake active forms of resistance, up to the killing of the monarch, a internal attack on the English state which was indeed encouraged by the Catholic Church.
He does not directly save their lives, since that would mean betraying the command of his King; instead he mitigates their suffering and merely improves their chances of survival. His conduct reflects the politics of the play, which are so tough-minded that his victim Prospero, since he has good reason to value those who do not betray their rulers, praises him as "holy" for his mix of loyalty to his King and kindness to his King's enemies.
Seen this way, The Tempest looks like it is taking Henry VIII's side against Thomas More, aligning itself with the claims of political obedience against those of personal conscience; but of course the whole bent of Shakespeare's drama is to open questions to debate and judgment rather than to close them down.
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At the Globe, ordinary Londoners were invited by the action of the play to decide for themselves whether Gonzalo had done the right thing and whether Prospero himself, whose judgment is questionable in so many other matters, was right to praise the very man who was at least immediately responsible for his and his daughter's terrible ordeal of exile. The performance at Court, he says, was "more likely to resonate with political issues in Europe rather than in the Americas.
Even more striking is the fascinating parallel he finds between Prospero and Rudolf, the Emperor of Bohemia, whose widely discussed abandonment of politics for a life of arcane magical learning, led to his deposition from power in the first decade of the seventeenth century Kastan Here we can see how the music, spectacle, and pageantry of the play were of a piece with its wide-ranging engagement with religious and political questions.
The play provided commoner playgoers with courtly kinds of music, dance, spectacle, and costuming, and it staged representations of politics that were the usual preserve of the monarchy and the social elite. All of that must have been thrilling to ordinary people, those who were normally excluded from elite entertainment and politics. Shakespeare, however, added something extra: his drama cultivated among lower-rank playgoers a lively emulation of the recreation and interests the social elite, but it also reflected critically on the elite cultural and political goods it was purveying to its paying customers.
It is the kind of ersatz courtly entertainment playgoers were thirsty for, but the freedom-loving sentiment that the spirit Ariel expresses is essentially no different from Caliban's populist, non-courtly song, "'Ban 'ban, Ca-caliban," which ends with the refrain, "Freedom, high-day, high-day, freedom, freedom, high-day, freedom!
One hardly needs the services of a royal musician, the play seems to tell the very audience it seeks to please with courtly song, in order to give voice to fundamental, shared human desires. Both the entertainment and the public, playful discussion intrinsic to the Shakespearean commercial theater were severely curtailed by the English Civil War through the s, the execution of King Charles in , and the period of the Cromwellian Interregnum the ten years when the English lived without a monarch.
When playing resumed in the wake of "the Restoration," that is, the return to England and accession of Charles' son to the throne in , The Tempest was, like so much else in English civil and cultural life, transformed into something almost unrecognizable, but not, as we will see, into something completely unlike itself. Perhaps the most important change was that the play came to occupy an important place in a large field of texts, performances, and practices that greatly expanded both the entertainment and the public, playful discussion that had been one of hallmarks of the drama in Shakespeare's time.
The Tempest, or The Enchanted Island , changed the story, added characters, simplified the play's themes, and greatly expanded the music and spectacle. This version was further altered by Thomas Shadwell in , who kept the Dryden-Davenant text but added more music, dance, and spectacle, making it into something resembling a modern Broadway musical. The Dryden-Davenant-Shadwell Tempest , which displaced Shakespeare's version of the play from the stage for the next years, gave its audiences, in addition to a great deal more music and dance than the original, an expanded romantic subplot, a busier Caliban subplot, and a reduced main plot.
Modern critics sometimes say that the Restoration adaptors trivialized Shakespeare by adding music and spectacle; but The Enchanted Island in fact elaborated a feature of the play that Ben Jonson had criticized and also emulated in Shakespeare's time when he mocked the play's "drolleries" and decried its "concupiscence of jigs and dances" Jonson, Bartholomew Fair And in any case, the Dryden-Davenant play is hardly without serious concerns.
With all its showiness, it develops a political theme that, while different in a number of ways from Shakespeare's, is similar in content and even in the way it might have worked upon the audience. The combination of entertainment and politics worked well for the Restoration audience; so popular was the adaptation that it stirred up a rival company to produce a parody, The Mock Tempest , that rewrote the opening storm as a riot in a whorehouse and included, at the conclusion, a dancing chorus of pimps and bawds Vaughan and Vaughan, "Introduction," Tempest , Miranda now has a sister named Dorinda.
There is also on the island the handsome son of the late, deposed Duke of Mantua. His name is Hippolito. Prospero keeps him and the young women apart since Hippolito's horoscope predicted that he would die if he ever saw a woman.
PREFACE TO THE ENCHANTED ISLAND.
It remains unexplained how the young people failed to notice each other on the little boat that brought all of them and Prospero to the island years before. The shipwreck brings Ferdinand to the island and, as in the original, he and Miranda fall in love at first sight. However, the presence of the other young people, Dorinda and Hippolito, occasions a series of misunderstandings, a duel between Ferdinand and Hippolito, and the unintended death of the latter.
That brings matters to what surely would have been an unhappy ending; indeed the ever-angry Prospero reveals to his old enemy Alonso that his son Ferdinand is alive, but only to make Alonso's grief sharper when he is told that his son is to die for the murder of Hippolito.
The happy ending is saved only by the initiative of Ariel, who magically restores the life of the apparently dead man. The romantic subplot ends by looking ahead to the weddings of the two couples, and it links to the main plot since Hippolito is to be restored to the throne of Mantua his late father was deposed by Alonso just as Prospero is to regain his rule of Milan. From the very start of the play, Antonio and Alonso express deep remorse for their usurpation of Prospero.
On his side, Prospero is ineffectual as a ruler of the island, tyrannical with his daughters and adopted son, and incapable of preventing the outbreak of violence that is caused largely by his long-standing oppression of the young people. He also does not undertake the inward struggle between violence and forgiveness that is so central in Shakespeare; instead he is simply full of bad temper from the beginning to very near the end he takes real relish in drawing out Alonso's fatherly grief.
This flattening out of Prospero and the cancelation of his inward struggle tends to strip out the philosophical element that in Shakespeare's play yokes together the ethical and the political dimensions of life in the world. The Caliban subplot exemplifies how desire connects with politics. Caliban is given a sister, Sycorax, whom he seeks to wed to Trinculo who is transformed into the Boatswain. Trinculo, Caliban, and Sycorax are joined in the comic subplot by Stephano here the Master of the Ship and two other sailors. The four mariners, the monster servant, and his sister take part in a risible contest for rule of the island, where "Duke Stephano" and his two sailor Viceroys are challenged by Trinculo, who claims the throne on the basis of his espousement to Sycorax and alliance with Caliban.
It is Sycorax's desire for Trinculo and his consequent claim to sovereignty over the island that enables the comic civil war among the lower-rank characters. Sycorax's desire, however, is a political problem as well as a political solution, especially because her desire is remarkably promiscuous, including even her own brother, and it must be reined in if there is to be any possibility of political order.
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The same is roughly true for the romantic subplot, where the re-establishment of the political and dynastic stability of the Italian city-states depends on the regulation of desire and the sorting out of the couples. In particular, Hippolito parallels Sycorax since he would have all women and she all men. Only once Hippolito is securely married to Dorinda and Ferdinand to Miranda can relations among the three city-states be normalized.