Hi! Your homework this week is to read Acts IV-V of The Tempest, watch my videotaped lectures below, and then post a comment about the assigned reading at the bottom of this page. The speeches that I refer to in my lectures are printed below each video. At the bottom of this page, below all of the videos, I give you some simple study questions to help you formulate a post. The study questions follow up on things I say in my lectures, so you may want to watch the videos first. Leave your post in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
Noteworthy speeches from The Tempest Act IV: After interrupting the masque of the three goddesses, Prospero speaks to Ferdinand, 4.1.146: You do look, my son, in a moved sort, As if you were dismayed: be cheerful, sir. Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I fortold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air; And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capped tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. Sir, I am vexed. Bear with my weakness: my old brain is troubled. Be not disturbed with my infirmity. If you be pleased, retire into my cell And there repose. A turn or two I'll walk To still my beating mind.
Noteworthy speeches from The Tempest Act V: Prospero's "farewell" speech, 5.1.33: Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves, And ye that on the sands with printless foot Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him When he comes back; you demi-puppets that By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make, Whereof the ewe not bites; and you whose pastime Is to make midnight mushrumps, that rejoice To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid (Weak masters though ye be) I have bedimmed The noontide sun, called forth the mutinous winds, And 'twixt the green sea and the azured vault Set roaring war; to the dread rattling thunder Have I given fire and rifted Jove's stout oak With ihs own bolt; and the strong-based promontory Have I made shake and by the spurs plucked up The pine and cedar; graves at my command Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let 'em forth By my so potent art. But this rough magic I here abjure; and when I have required Some heavenly music (which even now I do) To work mine end upon their senses that This airy charm is for, I'll break my staff, Bury it certain fathoms in the earth, And deeper than did ever plummet sound I'll drown my book.
Write a comment on The Tempest Acts 4-5 and post it in the comments section below. Be sure to quote the text of the play at least once in your post. Consider answering any of the following study questions:
1.) How do you imagine the masque of the three goddesses in Act 4 being performed? To what extent does this masque work together with the masque of the banquet in Act 3?
2.) One of the most famous speeches from any Shakespeare play is Prospero’s soliloquy in 5.1, where he explains his intent to give up sorcery as soon as the events of the Tempest are resolved. (It’s the speech that begins, “Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves…”). This speech is famous because for centuries many Shakespeare critics have wanted to interpret it as Shakespeare himself bidding farewell to the “magic” of his dramatic art (remember, The Tempest was Shakespeare’s last play). Personally, I don’t think this interpretation is likely at all. What do you think? What evidence is there in the speech itself that argues for or against the “Prospero-is-Shakespeare” reading?
3.) Like so many Shakespearean comedies, The Tempest’s happy ending leaves a lot of loose ends hanging. What lingering problems or questions does the play’s ending gloss over?
4.) Do you have any ideas about how you would want to perform Caliban’s scenes in Acts 4-5? You would need to capture his disappointment at discovering the uselessness of Stephano and Trinculo, decide whether his reconciliation with Prospero at the end of the play is real or forced, and bring a close to his character arc as a symbol of nature and as an allegory of indigenous peoples. That’s a lot to do!