Tempest

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Doff Shakespearean career stands a simple play not of self-loss but of self-gain. Shakespeare m a y well have intended it to have been his final one; it is difficult to think of Henry VIII as anything but an afterthought. A comedy or a tragicomedy, of course, was expected to present an action that moved toward self-gain; and the romances Shakespeare wrote dour ins his last phase, Prices, Combine, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest, all conclude happily with their heroes’ self-recoveries.

But The Tempest differs from the other romances in table ways: the hero’s self-loss has taken place before the beginning of the play, as w e are told by him in the second scene; during the action, he is in c o m m a n d of himself and in control of the events. Further self-loss is a continuing threat to Prosper?a somewhat more serious threat, I think, than is usually realized?but because it is avoided and be cause the play never really approaches tragedy, it is not quite in the same category as are its immediate predecessors.

It probably deserves to be called a comedy rather than a tragicomedy. Indeed The Tempest continues and perfects the comic treatment of the themes of elf-loss, self-search, and self-recovery on which Shakespeare structured his early comedies; it gives this structure a new and more festive polish. But a reading of The Tempest against the background of Shakespearean developing patterns of self-knoll edge suggests resemblances also to most other preceding plays, even to that signal tragedy of self-loss Macbeth.

Reading The Tempest in such fashion, as I propose to do in this concluding chapter, will allow us to glance back at Shakespearean earlier patterns as well as to see in perspective Shakespearean final achievement in giving RA mantic form to the ideas that have been the concern of this study. T o call The Tempest a simple play, as I have done, is to invite con The Tempest: The Mastered Self 357 tradition in view of the diversity of interpretations it has produced; yet simplicity seems to m e one of its most notable qualities.

T h e story is, admittedly, a trifle fantastic; some of its credibility depends on the acceptance of magic, which for us, contrary to the Jacobean, requires a suspension of disbelief. But the fine w e b of fantasy Shakespeare spun in the play lessens the problem; w e give our hearts to The Tempest m u c h as w e do to fairy tales. A n d perhaps for this reason critics become Tempest By hay tinnitus and imaginative when they analyze it; its outlines become vast, wavering, and infinite, and w e are told that “any interpretation, even the wildest, is more or less plausible. 1 Actually, no play of Shakespearean has a clearer dramatic struck true, one more closely tied up with the nature of its hero and the major strands of its thought than this, and few have as simple a thematic content. That The Tempest observes the unities of time, place, and action?the only play of Shakespeare after the early Comedy of Errors to do so?is well known. T h e action is fitly did jested intoxicates?they are accurately marked in the Folio text? according to the formula derived from the comedies of Terrace, modified in the epitasis’s by a movement that comes from revenge tragedy.

In its act structure, composite but yet composite on a simple plan, The Tempest could be compared with Love’s Labors Lost (for the simple formula) and with Hamlet (for the revenge plot). There is, of course, room for disagreement on the place of details in this pattern and even more on the meaning of the action. But no legitimate interpretation can avoid speaking of the losses and their recoveries and of the material, moral, and spiritual transformations that give movement to the action.

O n a very simple level, this idea is articulated in an almost liturgical tone by the good old counselor Gonzalez in the comic catastrophe of the last act. Recalling that he and the other Neapolitan set out to attend the wedding of the King of Naples’ daughter at Tunis, Gonzalez hails the journey’s Unix pecked outcome: O , rejoice Beyond a common Joy, and set it down With gold on lasting pillars: in one voyage

Did Clerical her husbanding Tunis; An d Ferdinand, her brother, found a wife 35$ ACHIEVEMENT AND SYNTHESIS Where he himself was lost; Prosper his dukedom In a poor isle; and all of us ourselves When no m a n was his own. (V. I. 206-13) The e losing-finding antithesis that forms the text of Gonzales h y m n to Joy recalls the rhythm of the paradox of salvation Shakespeare had used in previous plays to emphasize the importance of selflessness’s and to give structural patterns to his plays.

Because the adaptation of the losing-finding formula in The Tempest grows out f these earlier instances, a glance back will serve to demonstrate Shakespearean reliance on this pattern of self-knowledge for recurring as well as changing thematic ideas and to point up its particular con figuration in the present play. T h e formula, as w e noted, was basic to the thematic structure of Shakespearean two earliest comedies, The Comedy of Errors and Love’s Labors Lost.

Although The Comedy of Errors primarily exploits the outward possibilities and impossibilities of mistaken identities, it at least implies the danger to sell-loss and depicts the Joy to self-recovery. W h e n Antiphonal of Syracuse arrives in Ephesus to search for his brother, he feels like a drop of water searching for another drop in the vast ocean. “So l,” he says, “to find a mother and a brother, / In quest of them, unhappy, lose m y self” (1. “. 39-40). Antiphon’s search starts a chain reaction of errors, making the twin- masters and twin-servants doubt at times that they k n o w w h o they are.

The Comedy of Errors attains what ever thematic depth it has by the comic horror Shakespeare injected into the threatening loss of identities, and its happy finale comes about through a universal finding. The movement from self-loss to self- recovery is very similar to that of The Tempest; but in the later play, both the seriousness of the one and the Joy of the other are heightened: Prosperous enemies are restrained only by his magic power from doing harm to each other and to themselves, and his forgiveness has a sacerdotal quality that brings about a more spec tactual recovery.

But in the endings of both plays, the resumption of true identities and relationships creates the hope that a better order will evolve whew n the respective sets of hostile cities, Ephesus and Syracuse, Milan and Naples, are leagued n marriage; The Tempest, however, makes this point more strongly through a marriage of the heirs of the rulers.

O n the other hand, the ending of The Tern 359 pest does not depict merely a finding of brother by brother but the reconciliation of two sets of formerly hostile brothers; and the question?one w e must postpone for the moment?of the complete news and permanence of this reconciliation has been raised by critics. Closer to the thematic structure of The Tempest than The Com eddy of Errors is Love’s Labors Lost. It is essentially a comedy of self-loss and self-recovery that turns on the problem of self-search.

King Ferdinand and his three courtiers are shown to be mistaken in their belief that they can find their true selves by withdrawing into an academy that bars influences disturbing to study, particularly w o m e n and love. W h e n the princess and her ladies-in-waiting arrive on the scene, nature promptly takes its course and Cupid his revenge. The love-stricken courtiers are in a dilemma that even the astute Browne cannot solve with his quibble on the losing-finding anti sees : “Let us once lose our oaths to find ourselves, / O r else w e lose ourselves to keep our oaths” (IV. Ii. 358-59). This ingenious turn of the formula Shakespeare m a y have borrowed from the Geneva-Thomson side-note to Matthew 1 6 : 2 5 : “they that deny Christ to save themselves do not only not gain that which they look for but also lose the thing they would have kept, that is, themselves, which loss is the greatest of all. ” If “losing oneself” is the greatest loss of all?as the side-note says and Browne oneself,” in the sense of becoming a h u m a n being w h o attains his greatest moral potential and assumes his proper role in society, is the greatest gain.

The e endings of both Love’s Labors Lost and The Tempest pay rebut to the precious goal of “finding” as well as to the difficulty of achieving it. T h e courtiers of Invader, w h o have thoughtlessly sworn vows contrary to nature and w h o nave shown no compunction about breaking these vows, ill-advised as they were, must, on the princess’s orders, expiate their transgress signs in a year of penitence and service; the gayest of the courtiers, Browne, w h o had sworn against his better knowledge, must prove his regeneration by serving his term of penitence in a hospital.

There is good reason to believe that he and his fellow sinners will eventually mind their true selves as both honorable gentlemen and men of flesh and blood since the princess and her ladies-in-waiting have promised to marry them if they pass their tests. In The Tem pest, Prosper arranges the finding of the others and of himself. H e resembles in this respect, as in some others, D u eke Vincent in Measure for Measure.

Prosper, in the end, forgives transgressions as great as does Vincent?and certainly much h greater ones than does the princess ?and he forgives, as do the arrangers of these two comedies, in order to make humane values triumph. However, as I shall argue, The Tempest, particularly through the character of its hero and the nature of its ending, makes the point even more strongly that self-finding must be accomplished through a discipline based on a realistic understanding of the nature of m a n . W h e n w e turn to the tragedies, w e find self-loss to be the main theme and self- gain to be implied as a desirable goal.

T h e self-losses of the tragic heroes and villains arise from serious moral failures, from passion, sin, and crime, and they lead to the destruction of the heroes and of other characters, innocent and guilty. T h e nuanced value system Shakespeare infused into the tragedies from Hamlet on gave the losing-finding formula a subtler, more existential mean ins. T h e Danish prince exercises his probing mind on all questions about his o w n role and the function of m a n in the world, and yet he loses himself more and more in the w e b of his destiny.

Once during his probing for certainty in the world of shifting realities, Hamlet touches on the biblical losing-finding formula. Just before his fatal duel with Alerts, a test that to Hamlet appears one of self-knowledge as well as of physical kill, he asks the perplexing question: “Since no m a n of ought he leaves knows, what SST to leave betimes? ” (V. Ii. 216). If this version of the passage, that of Quarto 2, is correct, as I think it is, Hamlet here gives a skeptical turn to the paradox of salvation; for him, life has no recognizable pattern, and m a n profits little by retaining it.

But Hamlet’s precede ins reference to the special providence in the fall of a sparrow Gus gets that, at least to God , the pattern is meaningful. A similar skepticism-fiddles, emphasized by a view of the world as illusion array and temporary, is beautifully expressed in Prosperous end-of revels speech; but the detachment with which Prosper views the transience of all earthly things has some drops of soothing serenity that are completely absent from Hamlet’s tentative acceptance of the divinity that shapes all ends.

Although self-losses occur in all the tragedies and the importance of self-recovery is suggested somehow w in all of them, the lollygagging formula rings particularly strongly in Lear and Mac teeth. In Lear, the paradox to what the world seeks and what it loses becomes a tragic agony. T h e King of France weaves from this paradox the dutiful speech in which he accepts the disinherited Cornelia, w h o 361 is “most rich, being poor; / Most choice, forsaken; and most loved, despised” (1. . 250-51). In the course of the play, Lear, w h o has let evil develop in himself and in others, weightlessness’s of his and man’s true nature as he loses himself in anger, grief, and m ad news. By contrast, Edgar, from being a m a n whose name is lost, comes definitively in the end; and he assumes a more significant role than he has in the beginning. But even if Edger’s self-recovery anticipates, in some fashion, Prosperous, it is more painfully achieved and at greater loss.

Neither?since Edgar is not the hero?did Shakespeare focus on the state of his soul as he did on Prosperous. Macbeth is as relentless a tragedy of self-loss as The Tempest is a consistent comedy of self-gain. Machete’s self-loss is pointed up by the evasiveness with which he speaks about losing the “eternal Jewel” of his soul. But by his negative example and by his oppress Soon of Scotland, this tragedy makes a strong point that a m a n must seek to find himself and that a country candidates only whew n it is ruled morally.

The time is free” when Scotland shakes off the pop presser’s yoke in the end. Though h the benevolent Prosper and the murderous Macbeth are worlds apart, The Tempest not only dramatists self-finding but also demonstrates the danger of self-loss. A n evil similar to that of Macbeth (although it is not examined in its origin or spotlighted in its manifestation) dwells in the soul of Prosperous brother Antonio, w h o plots the murder of King Alonso with the help of Alonso o w n brother, Sebastian.

Prosperous firm direction keeps these wicked plotters and would-be regicides from succumbing o the total self-loss that engulfs Macbeth. T o Prosper himself, nothing worse seems to happen in the play than a temporary threat to his peace of mind; but I shall argue that this threat does present a danger, particularly because w e know that he has harmed himself years ago by becoming lost in his studies and by thus facial dating Notation’s usurpation of his throne.

Prosperous self-recovery from this evil of omission is the main plot of The Tempest. However, evil is a less serious threat in The Tempest than in the other romances, which veer toward tragedy. In The Winter’s Tale, for instance, Leanness’s unfounded accusation and condemnation of Heroine brings about the death of his son Milieus. If these heroes do not suffer permanent self-losses, the reasons lie in the extraordinary efforts of recovery through penitence and faith they make or in the powerful help, h u m a n and divine, they receive.

T h e romances, with their stories of shipwreck, of broken and reunited timeliest, to deep sell-losses and strong, sometimes miraculous, recover rise, make losing-finding formula even more prominent than do the early comedies, but the formula is n o w pregnant with moral and spiritual associations. However, none of the romances or any other play of Shakespeare gives greater prominence to the losing-finding formula and extols self-finding more melodiously than does The Tempest.

N o other play makes the presence of the formula as strongly felt; “lose,” “lost,” “loss,” “search,” “find,” and “found” are key words that occur at significant Junctures of the action and provide clues to the place meet of the characters in the total design. These words are also constant reminders that the action presented brings a long story to a climax: losses are to be remedied, ills to be healed, and blessings to be gained. T h e spectacular tempest that opens the play and furnishes its title is an example of this fusion of past and present. Apparently it brings about the loss of a ship, its passengers, and its crew.

But the second scene makes it clear that this storm is also a reenactment of that earlier storm, twelve years past, in which Prosper and his infant daughter, Miranda, expelled from Milan by the evil Antonio, were cruelly exposed to the roaring of the waves; by firmly controlling the effect of the present storm and preventing harm to h u m a n lives, Prosper recoups his loss and makes it possible or all to be them selves. Renaissance rhetoric had taught the Jacobean to think of storms as metaphorical for the gusts of passion and the blows of for tune.

T h e initial storm m a y thus be taken to symbolize the passions of the ship’s guilty passengers, the passions that brought about Prosperous expulsion and continue to threaten violence on the island. But this storm m a y also be understood to symbolize the passions of Prosper, slumbering as they are during most of the play. W e learn of his potentially passionate nature by his account of that earlier, intellectual ecstasy, hen, “transported / A n d rapt in secret studies,” he let his brother usurp his place (l. I. 76-77). Most of all, w e experience Prosperous one, if muted, outbreak of anger when, at the decisive m o m e n OTF the play, disgust with Scallion’s revolt wells up in him and threatens to make him prefer revenge to mercy. Shakespearean audience would have especially relished the story of the shipwreck and the miraculous preservation of its passengers and crew because of the similar fate of his majesty’s ship Sea Adventure, wrecked on the reefs of Bermuda in 1609. Shakespeare exploited the 3

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