The Tempest Handout

English 305

Dr. Fike


Day Two Activities


Exercise #1:


We talked last time about the storm, which yields to calm.  Storm and calm are major dualities in The Tempest.  My point to you at day's end last week was that the play is built around such oppositions, a technique that we also observed in King Lear.  Your assignment is to have a look at Ariel's song at 1.2.400ff.  With a partner, identify dualities in the song and then brainstorm others in the rest of the play.  After 10 minutes we will reconvene, and you will share what you have learned.


Exercise #2:   


We turn now to a question about Prospero:  Work in groups of 3-5 people for 10 minutes.  Each group will deal with one of the following questions.  If your group finishes its work before the time is up, go on to one of the other questions.  When we reconvene, be prepared to share passages and responses with the rest of the class.


  1. Discuss passages that illuminate Prospero early in the play:  1.2.66-117, 161-69.  How would you characterize his state of mind here?  Do you think that he has learned from his exile?


  1. At 1.2.197-238, what seems to be the nature of Prospero's magic?  Of Ariel's?  Whose magic causes the storm?  And do you believe that Prospero's intentions are clear to him at the beginning of the play?  In other words, is it possible that he may want revenge at this stage and that renewal occurs to him only later?  As you reflect on these questions, have a look at 5.1.278-79.


  1. Although it is tempting to consider Prospero to be merely a stage director, he is also a participant in the play's events.  In your group, discuss ways in which he must participate.  Does he drop the ball in any way?


  1. What must Prospero (and Shakespeare?) do?  See 1.2.22-25, 5.1.33-57, and 5.1.304-315.


Next we will summarize the transition that Prospero experiences and discuss the idea of felix culpa in The Tempest


Day Three


Exercise #3: (This is a good exercise, but we will not do it in class. Instead we will do an alternate activity that should be a lot more fun.)


We will now delve into connections between the play and Montaigne's essay "Of Cannibals," which has been sent to you on e-mail.   


Work in groups of 3-5 people to discuss Gonzalo's speech at 2.1.150-70 in connection with "Of Cannibals."  As Russ McDonald tells you on page 157 of The Bedford Companion, Gonzalo "describes his vision of the perfect society in language that echoes Florio's translation of the essay 'Of the Cannibals.'  Shakespeare's skepticism, in this case, is more pervasive than Montaigne's:  whereas the philosopher idealizes the savages and condemns their conquerors, the dramatist seems dubious about both groups."


Your job in your groups, then, is twofold:  first, evaluate McDonald's statement about this interesting inter-textual relationship; and second, consider the two works' connections in other areas.  As you discuss, you may want to consider the following areas of inquiry:  human nature, the accoutrements of civilization, lifestyle, crime, warfare, cannibalism, and relativism.


You will obviously need to do some careful reading and thinking on your own before class.  Please be sure to come prepared to participate actively and meaningfully.  The success of this exercise depends largely on you.


We will begin with the course evaluation, followed by an unofficial quiz over The Tempest.  We will conclude our unit on The Tempest by reading and discussing the masque of Iris and Ceres, 4.1.60ff.  If you are writing a term paper on the masque, be advised that you will be called on to share what you have learned this semester.  All of you should review this passage before class as well. 


The Last Day of Class!


Remember that your portfolios are due in class on the final day of class.  They should include the following items in this order:  cover letter, conference abstract, revision of researched draft, and original researched draft with my comment sheet. 

You may pick up your graded term project when you turn in your final examination.