William Shakespeare

In one of Shakespeare’s last plays, THE TEMPEST, the old counselor Gonzalo imagines the island on which he and others are shipwrecked as a perfect miniature state, a utopia. The other shipwrecked mariners jeer at him, but he persists. His utopian vision has a lot to say about the play: Prospero has created a miniature state on the island, but how ideal is it? How does it reflect the problems of the state that rejected him so many years earlier? Other characters have their own ideas of what might constitute the ideal state. Meanwhile, we in the audience are engaged with the actors, the director, with Shakespeare himself in a collective vision that puts us on the island too, at least in our imaginations. You might say the entire imaginative enterprise of the play constitutes something like a utopian vision. We enter a “no place” when we enter the theater, and there we work out problems and ideas that we bring back with us when we re-enter “the real world.”

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2 Responses to William Shakespeare

  1. Lachlan Hargis says:

    4). Being castaway per say is a constant theme in The Tempest, having the story so far take place on a virtually uninhabited island, whose nonnative population consists of all castaways from Italy. One of the main characters name is Prospero, who was the former King of Milan until he was shipwrecked and “castaway” on the island with his daughter, Miranda. So here you have this former King, who was used to living the royal life and spending his days reading his books in his tower/study, stranded on this desert island with only his daughter for company. This drastic change of scenery forces him to adapt to his new environment which could be his home in definitely. Without his books though he begins to spend more time with his daughter, seeing as how he is only one who can raise her being on the island. This brings them closer than they would have been had they not been shipwrecked, and Prospero’s attempts to get off the island are mainly for Miranda to give her the life she deserved.

    My experience with being a castaway would be coming to school here in Danville. This has been the biggest move in my life since I was 6yrs old, so it came as a bit of a shock. I knew no one who went here and I live hours away from the nearest family and friends. This forced me to adapt to living a more independent life. To me, it was also seen as a chance for a fresh start, not I really needed one but a chance to really discover who I am with fewer influences from who I was when I lived back home. This has so far been an enlightening experience, giving me a greater sense of perspective as to who my old self was and what choices I would have to make in the future when I live completely alone.

  2. Justin Gillespie says:

    Journal #2

    In the Tempest Gonzalo has a far different idea for a perfect utopia then Caliban. Each character has a far different background which lead to the difference in ideas of a perfect state. Gonzalo looks at the Island has a perfect utopia because it is on its own. The island has nothing surrounding it giving it many options to offer. Gonzalo’s imagination is filled with several thoughts of how he could see this island being so perfect. His followers are only concerned about surviving to see the bigger picture that Gonzalo sees. Gonzalo’s perfect utopia would consist of a ruling power in charge as he is accustomed to already. Since the island is so secluded from the outside world the sky is the limit in which it could be ran. I do not think he would have total power but he would instill order and leave his people with freedom on this magical island to roam along the land and find things out themselves. In his perfect utopia he would be the king but it would be a much more free living style then he already has.

    Caliban on the other hand has a far different view of a perfect utopia. In Caliban’s mind he first and foremost wants to be free and everyone would have equal power. He has been a slave for so long that he wants to do what he wants to do without punishment or persecution. He believes he has served his time and helped Prospero out to his fullest capacity. He has shown him the island and giving him everything he needs to know to live off of it. Also I believe a little part of Caliban wants to be in charge for a change and show people how it feels to be mistreated. However, he is so used to being ruled that it is his way of life so ruling others would be foreign to him. At the end of the day Caliban wants to be free and everyone equal in his perfect utopia.

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