Cover image for Understanding The Tempest : a student casebook to issues, sources, and historical documents
Understanding The Tempest : a student casebook to issues, sources, and historical documents
Nostbakken, Faith, 1964-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, CT : Greenwood Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xviii, 195 pages ; 25 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR2833 .N67 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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While The Tempest has always been one of Shakespeare's most entertaining and enchanting plays, it continues to stir up passionate debate throughout the world because of its ideas and attitudes toward race, class, political power, and colonialism. This casebook systematically examines these issues, as well as several others, from dramatic and historical perspectives and through parallel contemporary applications. Readers are first introduced to the play with a dramatic analysis that situates the work within Shakespeare's canon and within the romantic tradition. This fresh interpretation also casts much light on the use of imagery and language in setting, character, and thematic development. This casebook draws on the themes and issues introduced, and examines each one in turn with insightful original essays and primary documents. The shipwreck that sets the play in motion is examined in terms of the discovery of the new world, and the prevailing attitudes toward colonialism. A brief chronology of New World events helps situate the historical excerpts. Another intriguing topic explored in the casebook is the diverging Elizabethan views on science and religion, with a particular focus on the role of magic. Primary documents that help readers appreciate the significance of matters of sorcery and the supernatural include excerpts from Reginald Scott's 1584 The Discovery of Witchcraft, James I's Demonology (1597) as well as Marlowe's Doctor Faustus . Other topic chapters examine political power and treachery, as well as society in terms of marriage and the court. A full chapter is also devoted to performance and interpretation of the play. The final Contemporary Applications section investigates current global concerns that parallel those in the play, and help readers appreciate Shakespeare's play in relation to the world around us. Readers are shown dramatically contrasting perspectives on colonialism in Zimbawe. The casebook concludes with a fascinating discussion of the parallel elements of fantasy in The Tempest and in literary works by popular contemporary writers J.R.R. Tolkien and J. K. Rowling.

Understanding The Tempest follows the successful casebook format developed specifically for the Literature in Context series. Following a dramatic analysis, each topic chapter presents an important historical issue in the play, with insightful narrative essays supported by primary documents. In several chapters, brief chronologies of significant related events help readers understand the historical context of the play and its thematic concerns. As a tool for student research and classroom work, educators will appreciate the numerous topics for written and oral discussion suggested at the conclusion of each unit. Suggested readings further complement the content and research applications of the casebook.

Author Notes

FAITH NOSTBAKKEN is the author of four other casebooks in the Literature in Context series including Understanding Othello and Understanding a Midsummer Night's Dream .

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introduction: For Students and Teachersp. xv
1. Dramatic Analysisp. 1
2. Colonialism: The Discoverer and the Discoveredp. 25
from: William Strachey, A True Repertory of the Wrack, and Redemption of Sir Thomas Gates, Knight; Upon, and From the Ilands of the Bermudas: His Coming to Virginia, and the Estate of that Colony Then, and After, under the Government of the Lord La Warre, 1610, in Samuel Purchas, Purchas His Pilgrimes, Vol. XIX (1625)p. 31
from: Sylvester Jourdain, A Discovery of the Barmudas, Otherwise Called the Isle of Devils (1610)p. 36
from: A True Declaration of the Estate of the Colony in Virginia, With a Confutation of Such Scandalous Reports as Have Tended to the Disgrace of So Worthy an Enterprise (1610), in Geoffrey Bullough, ed., Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare, Vol. VIII (1975)p. 38
from: Michel de Montaigne, "Of the Cannibals," in The Essays of Montaigne, Trans. John Florio (1603), 1892p. 40
3. Magic: Religion, Art, and Sciencep. 45
from: Sir Walter Raleigh, The History of the World (1614)p. 57
from: Reginald Scot, The Discovery of Witchcraft (1584), Intro. by Hugh Ross Williamson (1964)p. 60
from: King James the First, Demonology (1597), Ed. G. B. Harrison, Elizabethan and Jacobean Quartos (1966)p. 64
from: John Dee, A Letter, Containing a Most Brief Discourse Apologeticall (1604)p. 69
from: Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus (1592), in The Complete Plays, Ed. J. B. Steane (1986)p. 72
from: Ben Jonson, The Alchemist (1610), Ed. F. H. Mares (1967)p. 73
4. Power: Legitimacy and Treacheryp. 79
from: A True and Perfect Relation of the Whole Proceeding Against the Late Most Barbarous Traitors, Garnet a Jesuit and His Confederates (1606)p. 89
from: King James I, Basilicon Doron (1599), in The Political Works of James I, Ed. Charles Howard McIlwain (1918)p. 91
from: King James VI and I, A Speech to the Lords and Commons of the Parliament at White-hall, March 1609, in The Political Works of James I, Ed. Charles Howard McIlwain (1918)p. 93
from: Elizabeth Read Foster, ed., Proceedings in Parliament (1610), Vol. 2 (1966)p. 96
from: Samuel Rawson Gardiner, Parliamentary Debates in 1610, Edited, from the Notes of a Member of the House of Commons (1862)p. 97
from: Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (1513), Harvard Classics Collection (1910)p. 98
5. Society: Marriage and the Courtp. 105
from: William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18 (c. 1590s), in The Riverside Shakespeare, Ed. G. Blakemore Evans et al. (1974)p. 114
from: Thomas Becon, A New Catechism (1564)p. 115
from: John Dod and Robert Cleaver, A Godly Form of Household Government: For the Ordering of Private Families, According to the Direction of God's Word (1598)p. 117
from: "The Magnificent Marriage of the Two Great Princes Frederick Count Palatine, &c. and the Lady Elizabeth," in The Progresses, Processions, and Magnificent Festivities of King James the First, His Royal Consort, Family, and Court, Vol. II (1828)|p119
from: Ben Jonson, The Masque of Blackness (1605), in Court Masques: Jacobean and Caroline Entertainments, Ed. David Lindley (1995)p. 124
6. Performance and Interpretationp. 129
from: Daniel Wilson, Caliban: The Missing Link (1873)p. 140
from: Ralph Berry, On Directing Shakespeare: Interviews with Contemporary Directors (1989)p. 142
from: John Goodwin, ed., Peter Hall's Diaries: The Story of a Dramatic Battle (1983)p. 144
from: John Gielgud, An Actor and His Time (1979)p. 145
from: David L. Hirst, The Tempest: Text and Performance (1984)p. 146
from: Roger Warren, Staging Shakespeare's Late Plays (1990)p. 147
from: Octave Mannoni, Prospero and Caliban: The Psychology of Colonization (1950), Trans. Pamela Powesland (1964)p. 148
7. Contemporary Applicationsp. 155
from: David Blair, Degrees in Violence: Robert Mugabe and the Struggle for Power in Zimbabwe (2002)p. 161
from: Martin Meredith, Our Votes, Our Guns: Robert Mugabe and the Tragedy of Zimbabwe (2002)p. 162
from: Susan Raghavan, "Zimbabwe's Land-Reform Policies Add to Hunger Crisis" (November 24, 2002)p. 163
from: George Soros, On Globalization (2003)p. 172
from: William K. Tabb, Unequal Partners: A Primer on Globalization (2002)p. 173
from: Naomi Klei, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies (2000)p. 174
from: Amory Starr, Naming the Enemy: Anti-Corporate Movements Confront Globalization (2000)p. 174
from: Larry Kettelkamp, Investigating Psychics: Five Life Histories (1977)p. 179
from: Gary L. Blackwood, Secrets of the Unexplained: Paranormal Powers (1999)p. 179
from: J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)p. 183
from: J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings; Part One: The Fellowship of the Ring (1954-55), 1966p. 184
from: J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings; Part Two: The Two Towers (1954-55), 1966p. 184
from: J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997)p. 185
Indexp. 189