Sunday, January 30, 2011

Shakespeare - The Tempest

"This book was very boring, it was hard to understand and i didnt like it at all. Its about a man named prospero and a girl named miranda. miranda marries ferdenand and prospero is making a plan to see if they are worthy.
I would not recommend this book to anyone because it is from shakespear and that makes it a bad book to read."

"This could have been one of the most boringest and confusing books of all time. I had no idea what was going on, and I still don't."

"A really weird languaged book about the main character, Prospero. How he got back his dukedom after losting it. I learned from this book of how millde English become Modern English."

"This was never written to be read as literature, and still shouldn't be."

"I HATE SHAKESPEARE!!! This book was dumb. I quote 'widow dido? Ay widow dido! Yes, widdow dido.' WTF?!?"

"Prospero was the over protective father that had his greed and power. Miranada and Ferninad was the young couple that met, it was love at first site. The whole story was very clique."

"the only reason i understanded this play even a little was because of episode of wishbone"

"it's soooooooooooooooooooooo imaginary....i don't like it so much"

"the plot just did not bone me up."

"Actually I think it's just a tale for kids.No one would believe in that kind of magic in the world today(in my opinion)."

"Thank God for Amazon reviews, since it would be suicidal for somebody in the academy to point out all the obvious flaws of this crud. So allow me:

1. We're constantly being reminded about Ariel's upcoming freedom: Was this meant to be the real tension of the play? Because even at final curtain, we never actually see him freed. This is dramatically unsatisfying.
2. Prospero breaks his staff and drowns his books before sailing back to Milan. So what's to prevent him from being stabbed, thrown overboard, or dispensed with once everybody reaches the shore? He's made tons of enemies - and now he hasn't his magic to protect him. Admit it: this was in the back of your mind as the play ended, marring its grace.
3. Doesn't anybody in this play ever have a look around before jumping to three pages of high-blown philosophical conclusions? (E.g., "This is some monster of the isle...")
4. On this island, what has Miranda been using for tampons and stuff?
5. You get leery when thinking what a cruddy job Prospero does of vetting his daughter's future husband. I suppose the idea of having him make Ferdinand's pursuit of Miranda fraught with difficultly so's he'd appreciate her more was serviceable enough, but all it really amounts to is making him schlep some logs around for an afternoon.
6. It would appear that Prospero was usurped with good reason. He apparently had his nose in books all the time, whereas his brother evidently has the wherewithal to manage affairs of state with a more hardheaded realpolitik. (He's just concluded, for example, a valuable alliance-by-marriage with Tunis.) If Prospero really had the makings of a Prince, he would have demonstrated same by offing Alonso and company right there and then, since permitting them to live is bound to lead Milan into civil war later, when they regroup.
7. That sappy, stilted, and pretentious "masque" scene doesn't belong there. Or at least not at such length. The young lovers aren't even married yet! That's another thing:
8. The subplot between Ferdinand and Miranda is resolved far too early in the play, making the ending intolerably long.
9. The introductory shipwreck scene is totally unnecessary! What does it add? It's like Shakespeare was trying to show off his command of nautical terminology.
10. Most of the poetry is forgettable. Some of it blows outright. E.g.: "You sunburned sicklemen, of August weary, / Come hither from the furrow and be merry. / Make holiday; your rye-straw hats put on, / And these fresh nymphs encounter everyone / In country footing." Uh, you're joking, right?
11. What's up with Prospero having Ariel maliciously taunt the bereaved Ferdinand about his drowned father? What did Ferdinand do to deserve that?
12. Seems like there more characters than are really needed. If this has been bandied about as a script these days, any Hollywood studio would have immediately made the obvious decision: combine Antonio, Sebastian, Adrian, and Fransisco into fewer, or delete them. And that studio would have been right.
13. Uh . . . has anybody noticed that the entire five-minute scene between Prospero and Miranda just after the shipwreck scene is nothing more than bald, unimaginative exposition? Master playright, eh? Heck, same thing goes for the scene just after that with Ariel, now that I think about it.

Oh, you're being too literal, too realistic, you might complain. You've been ruined by the 19th century. Okay, then let's take the play on its grander meanings. Here's what it teaches us:

12. Usurpation is bad. Everybody should know their place in society and not rock the boat by getting uppity. Caliban was wrong to have pursued his freedom: he should have known his place as a slave.
13. It's the height of wisdom to marry somebody you just met yesterday without investing a greater effort in trying to get to know them.
14. Women must not have their "virgin knots" broken, or they are impure and will not make acceptable wives.
15. Getting drunk helps you make stupid decisions.
16. Big psychological insight: Instead of endlessly justifying themselves, people have sudden epiphanies where they immediately and clearly perceive their guilt, causing them to change their worldview and lives on the spot (e.g., "Therefore my son i' th' ooze is bedded.")
17. As always in Shakespeare, prophecies always come true, so it's pointless to try to change one's destiny. Just once I'd like to see some withered old hag utter some omen of doom, then at the end of the play it turns out to be nothing. That, at least, would constitute some insight into the human condition: people can't tell the future!

So literally the play is a flop. And as for the play's deeper meanings - can somebody tell me why such sentiments are thought to be worth our time these days?

I think people find this play gratifying because the setup (i.e., a remote, green, magical island; a shipwreck; a benign magician; a beautiful and innocent daughter; a misshapen fish-like beast) is such an alluring daydream: people like to picture themselves in such a setting. Hard for me to play along, though: apparently that island won't shut up long enough for you to take a nap."

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