E316 Fall 2010 Students' Blog

E316 Shakespeare Students' Blog. Fall 2010, CSU Fullerton.
Published by admin_main on Thu 09 Dec, 2010

18. In Act 5, Scene 1, when Prospero reveals Ferdinand and Miranda to the assembled company, they are playing chess. What is the significance of that choice on Shakespeare's part, with respect to the couple's island courtship and their prospects for a happy future?

In the game of chess, a player must execute strategies and use tactics against their opponent in order to capture the king. The game of chess that Ferdinand and Miranda play directly symbolizes all of Prospero's plans and efforts, which are set in motion at the beginning of the play, starting with the tempest that he conjures up. In this comparison, one could consider the tempests to represent Prospero's first pawn. Everything that happens in the play is controlled by Prospero, including having the Prince marry his daughter without approval from the King. As one of Prospero's strategies, he separated everyone from the ship after the storm. Ferdinand, believing that his father is dead, agrees to marry Miranda without permission from the King. In Act 5, Scene 1, when Prospero reveals Ferdinand and Miranda playing chess, he has won his own game of chess and "captured the king." At this point, King Alonso has no choice, politically, but to make sure that Prospero remains the Duke of Milan because their children are married. This is Prospero's revenge for the wrong doings that the King committed against him.

Along with the actual act of playing chess, an interaction is observed between Ferdinand and Miranda when they do not notice King Alonso and Prospero. Miranda accuses Ferdinand of cheating and he seems to take it literally, explaining to her that he would never cheat her. Miranda has a much deeper meaning of her statement and responds with, "Yes, for a score of kingdoms you should wrangle, And I would call it fair play." Her meaning is that she knows he would cheat on her if twenty kingdoms were to gain. She is sarcastically speaking of love and faith. Throughout the entire play Miranda has been a pawn in Prospero's chess game and she has been a very weak character. The only time that she has shown attitude or spoken openly to someone is when she talks back to Caliban for nonchalantly speaking of his attempted rape, as well as when she speaks of marriage to Ferdinand. Miranda seems to be a weak character because she is essentially a child. She has never known any other man, besides the couple of men on the island. Her seclusion on the island has kept her as an untainted virgin. When Miranda makes the comment that Ferdinand would cheat on her for twenty kingdoms, it shows that she is a fast learner in the ways of men, and a more complex character than she originally seems.

She understands how quickly men turn for power, what they are capable of, and she expects men to cheat on her for power and call it "fair play." Based on the stories of her uncle's betrayal against her father, Miranda has no trouble believing that a man could act that way and therefore she is not upset by the behavior.

Published by admin_main on Thu 09 Dec, 2010

15. In Act 4, Scene 1, what demonstration of his power does Prospero give Ferdinand and Miranda, and why does he offer them this demonstration? Who are Ceres and Iris, and what is the subject of their exchange?

He demonstrates his powers to make sure that Ferdinand is truly in love with Miranda and that if he loves her like he says he does, he will be able to not give into the urges of intimate passion before the night of their wedding day. Prospero

Published by admin_main on Thu 09 Dec, 2010

9. Act 2, Scene 1, what course of action does Antonio urge upon Sebastian, brother of Alonso, King of Naples? According to Antonio, what opportunity has the tempest presented to Sebastian, and how should he respond? How does Ariel thwart this evil exhortation?

Antonio is urging Sebastian to kill Alonso and take the throne for himself. He convinces Sebastian that they should draw their swords and kill Alonso, as well as Gonzalo, and therefore Sebastian could seize his rightful claim to the throne.
Antonio maintains that this is possible due to Ferdinand's supposed death, and since Alonso's daughter, Claribel, is the Queen of Tunis, and it would be practically impossible to govern over both cities, she would likely give Sebastian control of Naples as the sovereign ruler. He encourages Sebastian to seize the opportunity, however it seems that Antonio's true motivation is for his own personal gain. Seeing as how he assisted Sebastian in achieving this task, he would be in good favor with the ruler of Naples, and would in turn benefit himself as ruler of Milan.

The two draw their swords and prepare to murder Alonso and Gonzalo, yet Ariel interferes. He sings to Gonzalo, warning him that his king is in danger. Gonzalo wakes and cries out, waking Alonso in the process. The two see Sebastian and Antonio with their swords drawn, and Alonso demands to know the reason; the two claim that they heard some sort of beast nearby, and Gonzalo confirms he heard a noise, but that it was a strange humming. As the group departs, Ariel is pleased with his success and remarks that Prospero will hear of his deed.

This moment is interesting in that the play makes light of their evil deeds, exploiting Antonio and Stephano getting caught in the act as a vessel for comedy and an effective segue into the following scene.

10. Act 2, Scene 2, how does the comic scene with Trinculo and Stephano complement the previous one with Antonio and Sebastian? Why do Trinculo and Stephano form a natural unit with Caliban?

The comic exchange between Trinculo and Stephano directly contrasts with the devious plannings of Antonio and Sebastian. Whereas Antonio and Sebastian spoke of ill deeds, specifically murdering the king Alonso and usurping the throne, Trinculo and Stephano have a more lighthearted banter. They speak jovially and without real purpose, more so providing a comic foil to the darkness of the previous scene. The object of their joking centers around Caliban, who reveres them as some sort of pair of deities. The two observe Caliban's homely and feral appearance, often referring to him as a creature and are extremely surprised to find that he can speak. They offer him liquor and encourage him to drink with them, forcing him to become more and more comically inebriated. Further comedy ensues when Caliban swears fealty to Stephano and Trinculo, whom he believes to be spirits from the moon. They exploit his offer of servitude and order him to show signs of his loyalty, to which he responds that he will show them how to survive and obtain everything they'll ever need on the island to live comfortably.

Incidentally, it is interesting to point out that Stephano and Trinculo actually come from positions of servitude. Stephano is Alonso's butler (as well as a drunkard) and Trinculo is a court jester (and, likewise, a drunk). Therefore, it becomes extremely easy for them to form a relationship with Caliban, who himself is in a severe position of servitude. Ironically, he is instantly willing to become a servant again to the two drunks, who are likely seizing the opportunity to be in a position of power and to be served. This bond of subjugation comes naturally and makes for an interesting comedic subplot of its own, which ultimately leads to further comedic ventures within the play.

Published by admin_main on Thu 09 Dec, 2010

3. In Act 1, Scene 2, how does Prospero explain his loss of power and exile to Miranda? To what extent does he admit partial responsibility for his own downfall, and to what degree does he find others (his brother Antonio and the King of Naples) culpable?

When Prospero explains how he lost his power and was exiled from Milan, he seems to be trying to blame his brother, Antonio, and the King of Naples, Alonso who exiled Prospero. Prospero said Antonio was "perfidious," and that he acted like the good guy, saying he loved Antonio and let him manage his state, Milan. He expresses himself as a "prime duke" and explains that he gave his actual power as a duke to his brother, Antonio so that he could concentrate on his secret studies. Prospero also keeps asking his daughter Miranda whether she is listening because he wants Miranda to believe his own tragedy, but it is one-sided version of the story. Prospero also answers Miranda, when she asks why Antonio and Alonso did not kill them, that the people of Milan loved him so much that they couldn't harm Prospero and Miranda.

In this conversation, I have little doubt about Prospero's one-sided version of the story that seems to say he has no fault, and Antonio was an evil man who betrayed his brother. But in my opinion, Prospero also has some responsibility because he did not care about managing his own state. It seems Prospero gave up his power as a duke of Milan himself because of his studies. And how he could be a beloved duke, while he didn't even care about his own state?

Published by admin_main on Mon 06 Dec, 2010

8. In Act 4, Scene 1, what powers does "Time" claim with regard to dramatic representation? What does "Time" ask of the play-going audience of Shakespeare's day or, indeed, of any audience in any age?

Time enters as the chorus in Act 4, scene 1, announcing to the audience that he is to turn the clock forward and progress the play sixteen years later when Perdita has "now grown in grace, Equal with wond'ring" (lines 24-5), meaning that she has grown from an infant to a beautiful woman in the time that has passed and believed to be the daughter of a Shepherd. Time claims to have a number of powers, once of which gives him the right to progress forward. In lines 1

Published by admin_main on Mon 06 Dec, 2010

1. In Act 1, Scene 2, how does the text represent the onset of Leontes' jealousy? When, exactly, does he first become jealous? How does he interpret what he sees and hears before and after this onset? How might the first scene be described as a setup for Leontess' unsettling transformation?

It all begins with Leontes' best friend, King Polixenes of Bohemia, as he visit him and now is getting ready to departure back to his kingdom after staying for quite sometime in Sicilia. Leontes pleads with him to stay longer, but Polixenes denies his request and this is when Leontes' wife Hermione enters into the pictures and tries to convince him to stay longer at Leontes's request, "Tongue-tied, my Queen? Speak you." This should probably give the first hint on Leontes's jealousy. The reason being is because Polixenes denies his best friend's request to stay, but after he listens to Hermione, he gives in. Leontes is impressed with the way she speaks to Polixenes as we read, "At my request, he would not. / Hermione, my dearest, thou never spok'st / to better purpose." He even compares it to the time when he took her hand in marriage and she gladly agreed.

We would not think that because she convinced Polixenes to stay, Leontes would burst in jealousy, it seems that Leontes' heart has been poisoned of mistrust for quiet sometime. We sense that he becomes jealous at the time when they are left alone walking in the garden, as Leontes confesses to us about his suspicious of them being lovers. For him to declare this, he has to have more reasons, but the less proof he has about it, the more insane he becomes and starts speculating about his marriage, about his son and his best friend relationship. He has now a different perspective in all. He seems bothered as Polixenes wonders about it and Hermione asks him, "You look / as if you held a brow of much distraction. / Are you moved my lord?" He responds that his son reminds him of himself when he was a child; this gives him some reassurance that his son is truly his, "Oh my boy's face, methoughts I did recoil / Twenty three years, and saw myself unbreeched," It is obvious that Leontes can no longer think clearly due to his jealousy. It is unfortunately that it has to do with his best friend from childhood and his wife Hermione.

It is also obvious to see Leontes' transformation as we read in the first Act how these two best friends from childhood love each other and because of their duties as kings and husbands, their relationship has set them apart. Archidamus and Camillo talk about these two kingdoms' differences, the kings' relationship as we read, "they were trained together in childhoods, and they / rooted betwixt them then such an affection which cannot / choose but branch now

Published by admin_main on Mon 06 Dec, 2010

21. In Act 5, Scene 2, in what sense does Cleopatra set about refashioning herself rhetorically as a hero partly in the Roman style? How does she refashion Antony as the noblest Roman and, perhaps, as something grander even than that?

For Antony, being Roman is not just being its citizen but that he is an embodiment of the great Roman hero. His newfound predicament between his heroic days and his affair with Cleopatra demonstrates how far he has strayed away from being his Roman ideal self. Antony points out to Octavia that his current actions put his honor in danger, because it is the defining characteristic of a Roman here that if he "lose my honor,/ I lose myself." (3.4.22-23). By taking his life Antony is restoring his former brave and indomitable self because only in suicide can he convince himself and the world, that is represented by Caesar and Cleopatra that he is "a Roman by a Roman/ valiantly vanquished" (4.16.59-60). Antony's suicide can be seen as part of his Roman morality, his death represent the reason and order of the Roman Empire because Antony can only see himself as a Roman hero. In this sense, Cleopatra's suicide to be reunited with Antony can be seen as her presenting herself to an extent of the Roman style. When she takes the snakes and places its bite on her skin she is taking the quickest death in proper Roman fashion. Yet, the way she chooses to kill herself with the baskets of snakes represents her Eastern sensibilities. Unlike Antony who cannot accept being anything other than a true Roman, Cleopatra cannot reject aspects of her own culture.

Part of Cleopatra's suicide is because she believes that she will reunite with Antony and transform into a supernatural power couple, similar to gods. Her death would immortalize her and Antony as lovers while Caesar will be mock because "the gods give men to men/to excuse their after wrath" (5.2.276-277). Cleopatra's dream of Antony as an awe inspiring powerful man displays her intention of achieving that status with him when she dies.

"I dreamt there was an Emperor Antony,
O, such another sleep, that I might see
But such another man!" (5.2.75-77)

"His legs bestrid the ocean; his reared arm
Crested the world. His voice was propertied
As all the tuned spheres, and that to friends;
But when he meant to quail and shake the orb,
He was as rattling thunder. For his bounty,
There was no winter in't; an autumn 'twas,
That grew the more by reaping. His delights
Were dolphin-like; they showed his back above
The element they lived in. In his livery
Walked crowns and crownets. Realms and islands were
As plates dropped from his pocket." (5.2.81-91)

22. In Act 5, Scene 2, why is Cleopatra particularly upset about the prospect that she will be put on display in Rome and that actors, as she says, will "boy my greatness" on the stage? In addition, how does her declared intent to rejoin Antony in death affect the play's tragic dimension? Does it enhance the sense of tragedy, or diminish it? Explain your reasoning on this point.

Although Caesar comforts her, Cleopatra doubts his intentions and still follows through with her suicide plan. Cleopatra would kill herself than be a spectacle of the entertainment for the Romans, for her, death is preferable than being portray as a whore by a boy actor. Her refusal of being parade for the Romans is because she acknowledges that they have no understanding of her, and to participate in it would make her less than who she is. To have a mere boy portray her is offensive to her because in her own way, she is an actress throughout the play. Cleopatra shifts from different roles in the play, weather as a lover, enchantress, queen, or shrew. These different aspects makes Cleopatra who she is, a grand and over the top person. Her love and grief is theatrical in the sense that she gives her love to Antony and then quickly pledge her allegiance to his enemy. The dichotomy of her personality makes her the director and actress of her stage for Egypt and the Romans. To have that control taken away from her will destroy the way she live her life, as she reminds the audience before her death that she is made of "fire and air" and not as solid as marble as she claims before. For Cleopatra death is much more dignified than having no control of her stage, if she stay alive than every spectacle she have perform will be reduce to nothing to the Romans.

"The gods forbid!
Nay, 'tis most certain, Iras. Saucy lictors
Will catch us like strumpets, and scald rhymers
Ballad us out o'tune. The quick comedians
Extemporally will stage us, and present
Our Alexandrian revels. Antony
Shall brought drunken forth, and I shall see
Some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness
I'th' posture of a whore."
(5.2.209-217 )

For Cleopatra death is the only resolution for her and Antony, but the grand way that she chooses to proceed with it epitomizes who Cleopatra is. Cleopatra's death is her ultimate triumph over the Romans as she remains elusive to them until the end. Her death is needed to reiterate that this is an infusion of West and East that foremost, it is of the love between Antony and Cleopatra. This is the reminder of the tragic events that occurs throughout the play. In essence of who she is it is plausible to see also see Cleopatra survive and thrive again if she remained alive. Although she plans on killing herself it is only after Dolabella reveals Caesar's plan of parading her as the empire's trophy that she follows through with suicide. The problem is why finding out Caesar's plan would matter if suicide is her only option, also, her intentions to keep her belongings is not clear. This could suggests that she is contemplating that there could be a start of a new life for her even with Antony's death which would make it possible to say she is only pretending to commit suicide until she is sure of what Caesar wants.

Published by admin_main on Mon 06 Dec, 2010

1. In Act 1, Scenes 1-3, what view of Antony emerges, based on what others say about him and on his dialogue with Cleopatra? In particular, how do the first three scenes capture the duality of Antony as a Roman and a man imbued with "Eastern" sensibilities?

The very first words of the play come from Philo who is a Roman soldier and he is telling Demetrius, another Roman soldier that Antonys infatuation has gotten out of control. That the love Antony used to have for his troops has been redirected to Cleopatra. We see right away that people are unhappy with Antonys obsession with Cleopatra. That they feel he is more dedicated to her then his people. We do not know, at this time, however, if Antony is aware of the peoples disapproval.

Then in Act 1 Scene 2 line 105 Antony is talking to a messenger and as the messenger is speaking he pauses, struggling to find a way to word what he has to say when Antony replies, "Mince not the generals tongue. Name Cleopatra as she is called in Rome. Rail thou in Fulvias phrase and taunt my faults

Published by admin_main on Mon 15 Nov, 2010

17. Act 3, Scenes 2, 4, and 6 are concerned with the actions of King Lear and others during a raging storm. In what sense is the storm metaphoric of Lear's inner disturbance? In what sense is it significant as a natural phenomenon not reducible to Lear's inner state and, therefore, perhaps relevant to broader issues of heavenly or natural justice in the play?

The Storm that rages throughout Act III of Shakespeare's King Lear has long been used to explain the inert turmoil which Lear is facing at having what little authority which he possessed be flouted by his ungrateful daughters Regan and Goneril. As such it is a common interpretation that the Storm represents solely the turmoil and implosion which Lear finds himself now that he has been cast off is but a "poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man" (Act III, Scene 2) and as such he pleads to the elements to do as much harm as they can, it is telling that Lear is commanding Nature to destroy the Earth almost via the storm. First of all we again note Lear not relinquishing His Divine Right as King even when it comes to controlling the elements, which is as futile an exercise as Lear's attempt to maintain authority over his daughters. Yet it is not Lear's intention that the destruction of the Earth be done solely to destroy and punish his daughters but it appears that to Lear that the storm is a great cleansing deluge which will bring about a balancing of the world, bring about justice to those who have escaped and flouted justice. Lear though believes himself to be a Royal victim in the grand scheme of things for he believes that he is a man "More sinn'd against than sinning".

And therein lies the irony and tragic flaw of Lear He believes Himself to have done absolutely nothing wrong and it is those around him, Goneril , Regan, and Cordelia that are those how have committed injustices and as such this great deluge must be brought, like the flood of Noah to purify the kingdom. Scene 2 ends with a prophecy in which Albion, Britain, would be brought to disarray when the righteous and true become unrighteous and true and when the depraved and dishonest become virtuous and honest. The prophecy is misleadingly self fulfilling for all these things occur on a daily basis in Albion and the fact that Lear is in the position that he is in now powerless and stripped of all authority and respect in which not only Lear as King is deposed of authority but Lear as Father is also cast aside by his "ungrateful" progeny. Justice is also brought to the fore in the mock trial in Act III Scene 6 in which we are forced to draw a parallel between the adjudication and division of the kingdom that Lear made in Act I and in the mock trial in Act III is where Lear now a deposed and powerless king in a barn, in what may be described as a "state of nature" Lear holds his daughters on trial and is finally able to redress the injustices committed against him. Of course the storm is to a very large extent symbolic of the turmoil that Lear feels internally yet we must understand that the storm symbolizes far more: it is the physical manifestation of the fact that the kingdom has been put into turmoil politically and that the world of court is disjoint as Lear has first abdicated power and then divided the kingdom which ultimately leads to the factions of Goneril and Regan go to war. Also the storm expresses the filial betrayal and injustice committed against Lear by his daughters, as well as the injustice Lear himself has committed against Cordelia.

Published by admin_main on Mon 15 Nov, 2010

16. In Act 2, Scene 4, Lear is furious when he learns of Kent's punishment. He blames Goneril but quickly learns that Regan, too, is against him. Explore what leads up to Lear's frustrated exclamation, "O, reason not the need!" and his subsequent tirade (2.4.264-86). Why is it so important to Lear that he retain his hundred knights? What seems to be his state of mind towards the end of this scene?

King Lear's main problem is that he willingly gave away all of his power, kingdom, and rights as a king. The very power and rights that defined him as a person are now gone. He decided to give it to the two daughters that don't truly love him like he believes they do. The only thing he requested after giving these gifts to his daughters was that they take turns caring for him and that he always have one-hundred knights with him. But because he entrusted those things to daughters who are only out for their own gain, they are doing everything in their power to get rid of their annoying and senile father. Goneril and Regan have been planning from the moment they received Lear's powers and land to get rid of their father so they wouldn't have to deal with him.

Lear is ignorant to their planning and when he runs to Regan's house to escape Goneril's rude behavior, he is confronted by his servant who is locked up in the stocks by Cornwall. Lear is furious because he cant understand why Cornwall would lock up his servant and then refuse to talk with Lear about why he did it. Eventually Goneril shows up with Regan and Cornwall, and they explain that they are sick of their father's demands and that they don't want him to have his knights anymore. Goneril spends the scene exaggerating the events that happened at her home and the behavior of the knights and of Lear himself. Regan and Cornwall readily believe her without giving Lear a chance to explain his side of the story. Regan then says that she wont care for her father unless he limits his posse to twenty-five knights. This infuriates Lear because that was the only thing he asked for when he graciously gave up all of this power to his daughters. By the end of the argument, both girls refuse to let Lear have any servants. Lear yells that he is leaving and walks outside the castle into a dangerous storm. The girls lock the doors and leave their father outside.

Lear is having a breakdown in this scene. He is switching between extreme anger and sadness that he has lost his power. He keeps switching between the two emotions so rapidly that he seems to be going crazy. His daughters see their father going mad and attribute it to his old age. When the daughters refuse to take care of him and his knights, Regan asks why he needs them. Lear responds, "O, reason not the need!" which means that he doesn't need them in the sense that the daughters think he needs them. It is more of a symbolic need for the knights. Lear feels that the knights represent the last little bit of his power that he retains. They are the last little part of his identity that his daughters have not taken from him. They are refusing the last small part that defines their father as the human being he has made himself to be. And now that they are taking that part of him away, Lear threatens that, "O fool, I shall go mad!" (2.4.281). which is foreshadowing of what might happen in the rest of the play. Which leaves us believing that Lear has now crossed the line from being sane to insane.

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