Lecture 7: Shakespeare – Part IIII

Shakespeare: The Final Plays:

– Shakespeare’s final plays are difficult to define.
– Some call them serious comedies others problem plays.
– Some critics call them pastoral comedies since the setting often involves an escape to the countryside.
– “The Tempest” is about giving back harmony to the universe.
– Prospero has been on an island for 16 years, sent by his brother who stole the kingdom.
– Prospero is a man of learning who uses magic to win his kingdom back.
– He defeats the evil spirit of Nature, Caliban.
– Caliban is a play on the word “cannibal” (anagram)
– “The Tempest” can be read as an allegory of imperialism & colonialism.
– Prospero’s daughter and Ferdinand get married and they are the hope for the future.
– At the end of the play, Prospero reminds the audience the play is unreal
We are such as dreams are made on
– The question of dream and reality is seen to be a metaphor for all theatrical images.
– Prospero’s final speech, giving up his magic powers, is read as Shakespeare’s farewell to his art:
Now my charms are all overthrown.

– Shakespeare was an actor himself, as well as a playwright.
– The theatrical metaphor is one of the most important images of the age.
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,

– The nature of human life was a new theme in literature.
– The theatre shows the Renaissance concern with how to understand life and death in the modern life.
– Religion no longer gave the answers as it had done earlier.
– Literature itself questions and discusses and looks for answers.
– But sometimes literature raises more questions that offers answers.
– Shakespeare’s plays are performed all over the world.
– The questions he asked are still relevant today.
– The characters he invented still live in the imagination of the audience and readers.

Questions on Shakespeare:

1) Shakespeare humanises English Kings. But does he also expose them?
2) How could Hamlet be a typical Palestinian guy?
3) As a Palestinian, who do you identify with more, Shylock, the Jew, or Othello, the Moor?
4) Could a woman have achieved what Shakespeare did? Explain.
5) Some believe Shakespeare is anti-feminist; others believe he empowers and gives them a voice? What do you think? Give examples.