Open Library - открытая библиотека учебной информации

Открытая библиотека для школьников и студентов. Лекции, конспекты и учебные материалы по всем научным направлениям.


просмотров - 809

Sonnet 66

Tired with all these, for restful death I cry,

As, to behold desert a beggar born,

And needy nothing trimm'd in jollity,

And purest faith unhappily forsworn,

And guilded honour shamefully misplaced,

And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,

And right perfection wrongfully disgraced,

And strength by limping sway disabled,

And art made tongue-tied by authority,

And folly doctor-like controlling skill,

And simple truth miscall'd simplicity,

And captive good attending captain ill:

Tired with all these, from these would I be gone,

Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.

Томимый этим, к смерти я взываю;

Раз что живут заслуги в нищете,

Ничтожество ж – в веселье утопая,

Раз верность изменяет правоте,

Раз почести бесстыдство награждают,

Раз девственность вгоняется в разврат,

Раз совершенство злобно унижают,

Раз мощь хромые силы тормозят,

Раз произвол глумится над искусством,

Раз глупость знанья принимает вид,

Раз здравый смысл считается безумством,

Раз что добро в плену, а зло царит –

Я, утомленный, жаждал бы уйти,

Когда б тебя с собой мог унести!

Измучась всœем, я умереть хочу.

Тоска смотреть, как мается бедняк,

И как шутя живется богачу,

И доверять, и попадать впросак,

И наблюдать, как наглость лезет в свет,

И честь девичья катится ко дну,

И знать, что ходу совершенствам нет,

И видеть мощь у немощи в плену,

И вспоминать, что мысли заткнут рот,

И разум сносит глупости хулу,

И прямодушье простотой слывет,

И доброта прислуживает злу.

Измучась всœем, не стал бы жить и дня,

Да другу будет трудно без меня.

6.1. Исторические хроники. Реконструкция средневековой истории Англии в пьесах Шекспира.

Shakespeare’s first period was one of experimentation. His early plays, unlike his more mature work, are characterized to a degree by formal and rather obvious construction and by stylized verse. Chronicle history plays were a popular genre of the time, and four plays dramatizing the English civil strife of the 15th century are possibly Shakespeare’s earliest dramatic works. These plays, Henry VI, Parts I, II, and III (1590?-1592?) and Richard III (1592-1593?), deal with evil resulting from weak leadership and from national disunity fostered for selfish ends.

Richard III continues the story of England’s dynastic civil Wars of the Roses. The protagonist, Richard of Gloucester, is a Machiavellian villain: a hero who wins the crown by treachery and murder. Yet unlike playwright Christopher Marlowe's supermen, Richard is refined and developed into a more subtle character. Characteristically Shakespearean features are the presence of a nemesis that pursues and destroys Richard, and the subtle implication that Henry Tudor's victory over Richard at the Battle of Bosworth Field, which initiated the Tudor dynasty, laid the foundation of the greatness and unity of England.

The four-play cycle closes with the death of Richard III and the ascent to the throne of Henry VII, the founder of the Tudor dynasty, to which Elizabeth belonged. In style and structure, these plays are related partly to medieval drama and partly to the works of earlier Elizabethan dramatists, especially Christopher Marlowe. Either indirectly (through such dramatists) or directly, the influence of the classical Roman dramatist Seneca is also reflected in the organization of these four plays, especially in the bloodiness of many of their scenes and in their highly colored, bombastic language.



Rescue, my Lord of Norfolk, rescue, rescue!

The King enacts more wonders than a man,

Daring an opposite to every danger.

His horse is slain, and all on foot he fights,

Seeking for Richmond in the throat of death.

Rescue, fair lord, or else the day is lost!

[Alarums.] Enter [King] Richard.


A horse, a horse! my kingdom for a horse!


Withdraw, my lord, I'll help you to a horse.


Slave, I have set my life upon a cast,

And I will stand the hazard of the die.

I think there be six Richmonds in the field;

Five have I slain to-day in stead of him.

A horse, a horse! my kingdom for a horse!


[Scene V]

Alarum. Enter [King] Richard and Richmond; they fight; Richard is slain. Then, retrait being sounded, [flourish, and] enter Richmond, [Stanley, Earl of] Derby, bearing the crown, with other Lords, etc.


God and your arms be prais'd, victorious friends,

The day is ours, the bloody dog is dead.


Courageous Richmond, well hast thou acquit thee.

Lo here this long-usurped royalty

From the dead temples of this bloody wretch

Have I pluck'd off to grace thy brows withal.

Wear it, enjoy it, and make much of it.


Great God of heaven, say amen to all!

But tell me, is young George Stanley living?


He is, my lord, and safe in Leicester town,

Whither, if it please you, we may now withdraw us. (…)

6.2. Игра судьбы и случая как основа коллизий в любовных комедиях Шекспира. Разрешение трагического конфликта в пьесе «Ромео и Джульетта». Победа гармонии над хаосом в ранних произведениях Шекспира.

Shakespeare’s second period includes his most important plays concerned with English history, his so-called joyous comedies, and two of his major tragedies. In this period, his style and approach became highly individualized.

Outstanding among the comedies of the second period is A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595?), which interweaves several plots involving two pairs of noble lovers, a group of bumbling and unconsciously comic townspeople, and members of the fairy realm, notably Puck, King Oberon,andQueen Titania. Subtle evocation of atmosphere, of the sort that characterizes this play, is also found in the tragicomedy The Merchant of Venice (1596?). In this play, the Renaissance motifs of masculine friendship and romantic love are portrayed in opposition to the bitter inhumanity of a usurer named Shylock, whose own misfortunes are presented so as to arouse understanding and sympathy. The character of the quick-witted, warm, and responsive young woman, exemplified in this play by Portia, reappears in the joyous comedies of the second period.

Two major tragedies, differing considerably in nature, mark the beginning and the end of the second period. They are Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet (1595?), famous for its poetic treatment of the ecstasy of youthful love, dramatizes the fate of two lovers victimized by the feuds and misunderstandings of their elders and by their own hasty temperaments.


Jul. Ay me!

Rom. She speaks: O! speak again, bright angel; for thou art As glorious to this night, being o'er my head, As is a winged messenger of heaven Unto the white-upturned wond'ring eyes Of mortals, that fall back to gaze on him When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds,

And sails upon the bosom of the air.

Jul. О Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father, and refuse thy name; Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I'll no longer be a Capulet.

Rom. [Aside. ] Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this? Jul ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy; Thou art thyself though, not a Montague. What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part Belonging to a man. O! be some other name: What's in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet; So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd, Retain that dear perfection which he owes Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name; And for that name, which is no part of thee, Take all myself.

Rom. I take thee at thy word. Call me but love, and I'll be new baptiz'd; Henceforth I never will be Romeo.

Jul. What man art thou, that, thus bescreen'd in night

So stumblest on my counsel?

Rom. By a name I know not how to tell thee who I am: My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself, Because it is an enemy to thee: Had I it written, I would tear the word.

Jul. My ears have not yet drunk a hundred words

Of that tongue's uttering, yet I know the sound: Art thou not Romeo, and a Montague?

6.3. Тематика и проблематика трагедий «Гамлет», «Отелло», «Король Лир», «Макбет».

Shakespeare’s third period includes his greatest tragedies and his so-called dark or bitter comedies. The tragedies of this period are considered the most profound of his works. In them he used his poetic idiom as an extremely supple dramatic instrument, capable of recording human thought and the many dimensions of given dramatic situations.

Hamlet (1601?), perhaps his most famous play, exceeds by far most other tragedies of revenge in picturing the mingled sordidness and glory of the human condition. It is a tragedy of revenge and probably written in 1601. Hamlet is generally considered the foremost tragedy in English drama. Numerous commentaries have been written analyzing every aspect of the play, and interpretation of Hamlet’s character and motivation continue to be subjects of considerable interest.

The story of Hamlet originated in Norse legend. The earliest written version is Books III and IV of Historia Danica (History of the Danes), written in Latin around 1200 by Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus. Shakespeare's source for Hamlet was either an adaptation of Saxo's tale, or a play, now lost, which was probably written by English dramatist Thomas Kyd. The lost play is referred to by scholars as Ur-Hamlet, meaning “original Hamlet.”

Hamlet opens at Elsinore castle in Denmark with the return of Prince Hamlet from the University of Wittenberg, in Germany. He finds that his father, the former king, has recently died and that his mother, Queen Gertrude, has subsequently married Claudius, his father's brother. Claudius has assumed the title of king of Denmark. Hamlet’s sense that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark” is intensified when his friend and fellow student Horatio informs him that a ghost resembling his dead father has been seen on the battlements of the castle. Hamlet confronts the ghost, who tells him that Claudius murdered him and makes Hamlet swear to avenge his death. In order to disguise his feelings, Hamlet declares that from now on he will demonstrate an “antic disposition.” His behavior appears to everyone but Claudius to be a form of madness.

To satisfy his growing questions about whether Hamlet is feigning madness, Claudius makes three attempts to verify Hamlet’s sanity. In his endeavor he makes use of Ophelia, the daughter of the lord chamberlain, Polonius; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, university friends of Hamlet; and finally Polonius himself. Polonius, sure that Hamlet's madness is the result of disappointed love for Ophelia—for Polonius has instructed her to keep aloof from the prince—arranges a “chance” encounter between the lovers that he and the king can overhear. Hamlet is not deceived. He bitterly rejects Ophelia and uses the occasion to utter what Claudius alone will recognize as a warning.

In the meantime, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have arrived at court. They talk about the company of players that has followed them to Elsinore. This suggests to Hamlet a means for eliminating all doubts about the king's guilt. He has the players perform a piece, “The Murder of Gonzago,” that reproduces the circumstances of his father's murder. Claudius interrupts the performance, and Hamlet and Horatio interpret this as a betrayal of his guilt.

Queen Gertrude, angered at what she considers Hamlet's rudeness at the play, summons him to her chamber. On his way Hamlet comes upon Claudius kneeling in prayer. Hamlet overhears the king’s plea to heaven for forgiveness for the act that procured him his crown and his queen. No longer doubting the king's guilt, Hamlet still refrains from killing him. He reasons that the present circumstances seem too much like absolution and that he should reserve his revenge for some occasion when Claudius's death would be certain to be followed by damnation.

By the time Hamlet arrives at his mother's chamber, Polonius, with the complicity of both the king and the queen, has concealed himself behind a tapestry in the hope that Hamlet will reveal the cause of his odd behavior. The queen begins the interview in a challenging tone that infuriates Hamlet, who has long brooded over his mother’s marriage to Claudius so soon after his father's death. Hamlet’s response is so violent that Gertrude screams, causing Polonius to cry out for help. Thinking it is the king, Hamlet thrusts his sword through the tapestry and kills Polonius.

Claudius then sends Hamlet to England, escorted by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, ostensibly for the prince's safety but in fact to have him executed on his arrival. During Hamlet's absence Laertes, the son of Polonius, returns from Paris, France, to avenge his father's death. Laertes finds that his sister Ophelia, grief stricken by her father's death at the hands of the man she loves, has gone mad. Her suicide by drowning increases Laertes's desire for revenge.

Meanwhile, Hamlet is attacked by sea pirates and persuades them to return him to Denmark. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, however, continue on their way to England; Hamlet has replaced their written order for his execution with another naming them as the victims. When Hamlet returns unexpectedly to witness the funeral of Ophelia, the king suggests to the vengeful Laertes that he challenge Hamlet to a fencing match in which Laertes will use an unprotected foil tipped with poison.

As a backup, should Laertes's skill or nerve fail, the king prepares a poisoned cup of wine to offer Hamlet. In the excitement of the ensuing duel, the queen insists on drinking from the cup. Hamlet and Laertes are both mortally wounded, for in the violence of the bout the rapiers have changed hands. The dying queen warns Hamlet of the poison. Laertes points to the king as the chief instigator, and Hamlet at once stabs his uncle with the poisoned foil. With his last breath Hamlet exchanges forgiveness with Laertes and asks Horatio to make clear to the world the true story of his tragedy.

Fortinbras, a prince of Norway, appears on the scene. He had earlier been granted permission to lead the Norwegian army across Denmark to attack Poland and has now returned from his military campaign. With all of the claimants to the Danish throne dead, Fortinbras claims the crown.

Hamlet’s volatile character and ambivalent behavior have been the subject of much analysis. One major issue is the question of the hero's sanity. Most critics maintain that Hamlet only pretends madness and then only at certain times. They are supported by Hamlet's explicit avowal to Horatio after he has seen the ghost of his father that he plans to “put an antic disposition on.”

Many critics believe that Hamlet feigns insanity to conceal his real feelings and to divert attention from his task of revenge. Other critics assert that Hamlet hopes that Claudius, thinking him mad, will lower his guard and reveal his guilt in Hamlet's presence.

Another discussion issue is Hamlet’s delay in seeking revenge. The conventions of the age during which the play was written provide one possible explanation for Hamlet’s procrastination. In Elizabethan times, a ghost was generally believed to be a devil that had assumed the guise of a dead person. These ghosts sought to endanger the souls of those nearest the deceased through lies and other damnable behavior. In Hamlet, when the ghost first appears on the palace battlements, no one affirms that it is the spirit of Hamlet's father, only that it looks like him. Hamlet waits to be convinced that the ghost is indeed the spirit of his late father. When Hamlet decides to present “The Murder of Gonzago” before the king, he states as his motive:

The spirit that I have seen

May be the devil; and the devil hath power

To assume a pleasing shape; yea and perhaps

Abuses me to damn me.

However, once he is convinced that the ghost is truly his father, Hamlet still appears to hesitate. Some critics have explained this by analyzing his situation. Because the murder of the late king took place secretly, the Danish court neither suspects nor disapproves of Claudius. His reaction to “The Murder of Gonzago” is significant only to Hamlet and Horatio, and Hamlet cannot kill the king before publicly proving him a murderer (as he is dying, Hamlet's main concern is that Denmark know his reasons for killing Claudius). Also, if Hamlet kills the king without supporters present to uphold the act, he himself might be immediately killed as a regicide. When Hamlet rushes at the king in the last scene, the whole court with one voice shouts, “Treason! Treason!” although Laertes has already exposed Claudius's villainy.

Like the Oedipus of Sophocles and Shakespeare’s own King Lear, Hamlet is a tragic hero and thus largely determines his own fate. Shakespeare portrays him as an extraordinarily complex young man—brilliant, sensitive, intuitive, noble, philosophic, and reckless. He is larger than life, a great repository of emotion and intellect. This unfocused “excess” of personality is the source of his tragedy. The emotional side of Hamlet’s nature is almost immediately evident: At the play's opening he is shown consumed by anguish and shock even before he sees the ghost. He has abandoned himself to melancholy; in his first soliloquy, he expresses the wish that suicide were permissible.

Hamlet's emotions occasionally impel him to act precipitously, often with disastrous consequences. During his encounter with Gertrude, for example, he becomes so angry that he does not wait to determine the eavesdropper’s identity but immediately runs him through with his saber. Only after doing so does Hamlet ask, hopefully, “Is it the king?”

Hamlet's impetuosity is not the only factor that complicates an already intricate situation. Hamlet has a superb mind and is able to articulate his thoughts with great precision and wit. His soliloquies reveal that he is of a highly contemplative, generalizing nature, often given to periods of agonizing introspection. The great generalizing power of Hamlet's mind is dramatically revealed in the scene at Ophelia's grave. Instead of planning how best to kill Claudius, he broods over the just-discovered skull of his father's jester, Yorick:

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him Horatio: a fellow

of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy ... Where

are your gibes now, your gambols, your songs?

His thoughts then wander to mortality in general and the futility of even the greatest human achievement:

To what base uses we may return Horatio! Why may

not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander

till he find it stopping a bung hole? ...

This kind of imaginative but impractical mental activity helps ensure Hamlet's tragic destiny. A man who soon must pit his life against the fury of Laertes and the guile of Claudius simply does not have the leisure to philosophize about death.

Hamlet's impetuosity and emotionalism is also the source of his major weakness, impatience. In the “To be or not to be” soliloquy he asks if it is better to suffer and wait, or to put an end to doubts and scruples by acting at once.

Hamlet's impatience often prevents appropriate planning, so that when he does act he does not achieve his desired results. In the final scene, anxious to get on with the duel, Hamlet fails to inspect the foils and thus to notice that Laertes's foil is not blunted. This final impatience costs him his life.

Hamlet is not only the most discussed but also the most quoted of Shakespeare's plays. Many of its lines have become well known.

To be, or not to be – that is the question.

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer |

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them? – To die – to sleep –

No more; and by a sleep to say we end

The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to; 'tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wished. To die – to sleep –

To sleep! perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub,

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause. There's the respect

That makes calamity of so long life.

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,

The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,

The insolence of office, and the spurns

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

When he himself might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death –

The undiscovered country from whose bourn

No traveler returns – puzzles the will,

And makes us rather bear those ills we have

Than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;

And enterprises of great pitch and moment,

With this regard, their currents turn awry,

And lose the name of action…

Othello (1604?) portrays the growth of unjustified jealousy in the protagonist, Othello, a Moor serving as a general in the Venetian army. The innocent object of his jealousy is his wife, Desdemona. In this tragedy, Othello’s evil lieutenant Iago draws him into mistaken jealousy in order to ruin him.

King Lear (1605?), conceived on a more epic scale, deals with the consequences of the irresponsibility and misjudgment of Lear, a ruler of early Britain, and of the Duke of Gloucester. It was written about 1605 and first performed in December 1606.

In the original English legend that King Lear is based upon, Lear, king of Britain, decides in his old age to divide his kingdom among his three daughters. He asks how much they each love him. The two elder daughters overwhelm him with expressions of their love, but the youngest daughter simply says that she loves him as a child should. Enraged at his youngest daughter's reply, Lear drives her into exile and divides the kingdom between the other two. After receiving their share of the kingdom, the ungrateful daughters treat King Lear so cruelly that he flees to the youngest, who in the meantime has married the king of France. This daughter returns to Britain with an army, defeats the wicked sisters, and places Lear again on the throne.

Shakespeare converted the legend of Lear into a great and terrible tragedy. The play’s intensity is heightened by Shakespeare’s portrayals of the madness of Lear, brought on by the cruelty of his older daughters, Goneril and Regan; the murder of his youngest daughter, Cordelia; and the death of Lear with Cordelia's body in his arms. These aspects of the story are original to Shakespeare’s play, as is the character of the Fool, whose bitter jests bring home to Lear the folly of his action. Both Lear's madness and the Fool's wit raise the explicit theme of the play—inhumanity in the form of filial ingratitude—to a higher level of philosophical meaning and resolution.

King Lear is unique among Shakespeare's tragedies because it contains an underplot, the story of the duke of Gloucester and his sons. This story was drawn from Arcadia (1590), a poem by English poet Sir Philip Sidney. Shakespeare interwove the underplot closely with the main plot by making both of Lear’s evil daughters fall in love with Gloucester's bastard son, Edmund, a development that brings about their eventual ruin.

The double plot also provides parallels in the fates of Lear and Gloucester. The ruin of both men is brought about not only by their children's ingratitude, but also by their own lack of insight. At the play's outset, Lear, "every inch a king," is an absurdly proud man, expecting his daughters to love him more than they love their husbands. Gloucester, on the other hand, is self-important, rather like the character of Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Blind to the feelings of others, Gloucester never suspects that his son bitterly resents his birth out of wedlock. Only after they have suffered at the hands of their children do Lear and Gloucester achieve insight. Stripped of his kingdom and his arrogant pride, Lear goes mad and then, paradoxically, is able to perceive the reality of life more clearly. Encountering a naked beggar on the heath, the humbled, raving king perceives their kinship. Similarly, Gloucester attains true vision only after his eyes have been put out. His insight begins with despair at the inhumanity of fate. Taken as a whole, King Lear is the story of the struggle between good and evil. It is often considered one of Shakespeare's best poetic tragedies.

In Macbeth (1606?), Shakespeare depicts the tragedy of a man who, led on by others and because of a defect in his own nature, succumbs to ambition. In securing the Scottish throne, Macbeth dulls his humanity to the point where he becomes capable of any amoral act.


Enter a Doctor of Physic and a Waiting-Gentlewoman.


I have two nights watch'd with you, but can perceive no truth in your report. When was it she last walk'd?

GENT. Since his Majesty went into the field, I have seen her rise from her bed, throw her night-gown upon her, unlock her closet, take forth paper, fold it, write upon't, read it, afterwards seal it, and again return to bed; yet all this while in a most fast sleep.

DOCT. A great perturbation in nature, to receive at once the benefit of sleep and do the effects of watching! In this slumb'ry agitation, besides her walking and other actual performances, what, at any time, have you heard her say?

GENT. That, sir, which I will not report after her.

DOCT. You may to me, and 'tis most meet you should.

GENT. Neither to you nor any one, having no witness to confirm my speech.

Enter Lady [Macbeth] with a taper.

Lo you, here she comes! This is her very guise, and upon my life, fast asleep. Observe her, stand close.

DOCT. How came she by that light?

GENT. Why, it stood by her. She has light by her continually, 'tis her command.

DOCT. You see her eyes are open.

GENT. Ay, but their sense are shut.

DOCT. What is it she does now? Look how she rubs her hands.

GENT. It is an accustom'd action with her, to seem thus washing her hands. I have known her continue in this a quarter of an hour.

LADY M. Yet here's a spot.

DOCT. Hark, she speaks. I will set down what comes from her, to satisfy my remembrance the more strongly.

LADY M. Out, damn'd spot! out, I say! One - two - why then 'tis time to do't. Hell is murky. Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our pow'r to accompt? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?

DOCT. Do you mark that? (…)

LADY M. Here's the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. O, O, O!

DOCT. What a sigh is there! The heart is sorely charg'd. (…) This disease is beyond my practice; yet I have known those which have walk'd in their sleep who have died holily in their beds.

LADY M. Wash your hands, put on your night-gown, look not so pale. I tell you yet again, Banquo's buried; he cannot come out on 's grave.

DOCT. Even so?

LADY M. To bed, to bed; there's knocking at the gate. Come, come, come, come, give me your hand. What's done cannot be undone. To bed, to bed, to bed.

Exit Lady.

6.4. Столкновение сил добра и зла в трагикомедиях и его разрешение; близость поздних пьес Шекспира к моралите («Буря»). Место Шекспира в мировой драматургии и судьба его наследия в культуре Нового времени

The fourth period of Shakespeare’s work includes his principal romantic tragicomedies. Toward the end of his career, Shakespeare created several plays that, through the intervention of magic, art, compassion, or grace, often suggest redemptive hope for the human condition. These plays are written with a grave quality differing considerably from Shakespeare’s earlier comedies, but they end happily with reunions or final reconciliation. The tragicomedies depend for part of their appeal upon the lure of a distant time or place, and all seem more obviously symbolic than most of Shakespeare’s earlier works. To many critics, the tragicomedies signify a final ripeness in Shakespeare’s own outlook, but other authorities believe that the change reflects only a change in fashion in the drama of the period.

Perhaps the most successful product of this particular vein of creativity, however, is what may be Shakespeare’s last complete play, The Tempest (1611?), in which the resolution suggests the beneficial effects of the union of wisdom and power. The story of The Tempest—a storm, a shipwreck, and the adventures of the shipwrecked party on an enchanted island—was suggested to Shakespeare by reports received in London late in 1610 of the wreck of an English ship off the Bermuda Islands. The survival of the crew during a winter's sojourn in the islands provided a timely topic for a play, but little plot. Somewhere, however, in old stories and in Italian comedies Shakespeare picked up accounts of a banished prince who was also a wise magician. This prince had a fair daughter whom he contrived to marry to the son of a hostile king in order to end an old feud. Shakespeare set these characters and their story in an enchanted island after a shipwreck and the result was The Tempest.

The plot of The Tempest is alone among Shakespeare's plays in observing the unity of time. The play contains something for all tastes: exciting action; lovely songs; a stately masque with music and dancing; the farcical comedy of the monster Caliban, the drunken butler Stephano, and the clown Trinculo; the love story between Ferdinand and Miranda; and, controlling and directing all, the figure of the wise and benevolent magician Prospero. The Tempest is also a multi-layered, lyrical play, containing beautiful verse, wisdom of thought, and themes of repentance and reconciliation. Above all, there is the sense of finality. The famous lines given to Prospero, beginning with the words, “Our revels now are ended," are interpreted by many to announce Shakespeare's retirement from the theater.


GONZALO. And were the king on't, what would I do?

SEB. Scape being drunk, for want of wine.

GON. I' th' commonwealth I would, by contraries,

Execute all things; for no kind of traffic

Would I admit; no name of magistrate;

Letters should not be known; riches, poverty,

And use of service, none; contract, succession,

Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none;

No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil;

No occupation, all men idle, all;

And women too, but innocent and pure;

No sovereignty –

SEB. Yet he would be king on't.

ANT. The latter end of his commonwealth forgets the beginning.

GON. All things in common nature should produce

Without sweat or endeavor: treason, felony,

Sword, pike, knife, gun, or need of any engine,

Would I not have; but nature should bring forth,

Of it own kind, all foison, all abundance,

To feed my innocent people.

SEB. No marrying 'mong his subjects?

ANT. None, man, all idle – whores and knaves.

GON. I would with such perfection govern, sir,

T' excel the golden age.

SEB. 'Save his Majesty!

ANT. Long live Gonzalo!

GON. And – do you mark me, sir?

ALON. Prithee no more; thou dost talk nothing to me.

GON. I do well believe your Highness, and did it to minister occasion to these gentlemen, who are of such sensible and nimble lungs that they always use to laugh at nothing.

ANT. 'Twas you we laugh'd at.

GON. Who, in this kind of merry fooling, am nothing to you; so you may continue, and laugh at nothing still.

ANT. What a blow was there given!

SEB. And it had not fall'n flat-long.

GON. You are gentlemen of brave mettle; you would lift the moon out of her sphere, if she would continue in it five weeks without changing.



Write a composition (250 words) explaining why Shakespeare is quintessentially British in spirit. Submit it to the lecturer in the printed format.