Saturday, December 27, 2014

Inventing Meaning for "The Tempest"

There is a strong resemblance.
Now my charms are all o’erthrown

And what strength I have’s my own.

- Prospero, The Tempest (Epilogue)
Writing is like magic.

Picture the aging William Shakespeare, summoning to him the spirit of creativity, a tricksy spirit which reveals to him the true story of a shipwreck I the recently “discovered” Bermudas.

Shakespeare sees himself as master of this island, drawing to it this doomed vessel. Aboard, lords and gentlemen who have shown disrespect for his writing, but also a fine husband for his younger daughter (already 26 and without prospects).

At that same time, he struggles with his Bête Noire, that which inhibits his creation; lust, anger, drink, vulgarity, struggles to keep this Devil down in the hole. He plays with the nobility, terrifying them with monsters, treating them as toys.

Finally he composes a great play for his child and her man, forgives his ignorant enemies and critics, sets down his pen and paper (“staff” and “book”) and chooses to retire from writing.

Wouldn’t that make a good play?

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