26 Feb. Tempest Final & Best Possible Futures


  • 1. You all did such an awesome job on the remote worksheet that I feel like we should have remote classes more often! Bravo! 
  • 2. If there’s ever a discrepancy between the course site prompts and the Canvas prompt, follow the course cite.

Class Leads

  • Give us a quick overview of the main highlights from the Google Doc discussion and then write your discussion questions on the board

Class Section Students
ENGL 1102.F3 Omar, Catherine, & Darren
ENGL 1102.HP3 Craig & Danielle
ENGL 112.D3 Michael

Problems in Shakespeare’s Tempest

Let’s chat about the following:
  • 1. What are some examples in The Tempest of the ways in which spaces or geographical regions or nature is/are never really empty of life or even civilization? What are the implications of Shakespeare’s critique of the castaway’s or settler’s expectations of empty landscapes?
  • 2. What are some examples in The Tempest of way in which it is difficult or impossible for the characters to start over or erase their pasts? What are the implications of Shakespeares critique of the ways that attempts to erase history effect the present?
  • 3. What are some examples of “soft power” and its applications in The Tempest? How well does “soft power” influence characters’ behavior and/or enact or even undermine state power?
  • 4. What are some examples of objects used on stage or in the characters’ imaginations that can represent the world of The Tempest as a whole?

New World Curiosities

Fold-out engraving from Ferrante Imperato’s Dell’Historia Naturale (Naples 1599), the earliest illustration of a natural history cabinet


Problems in Our Futures

Get into small groups, read over each others’ Blog Post 4: Advertise Your Future, respond to the following in conversation, and then be prepared to share your answers:
  • 1. Whose future world would you most like to visit & why? I whose future world would you most like to live & why?
  • 2. Given some of the critiques of rational society building that Shakespeare raises in his play, discuss how the futures you have invented are vulnerable in the same ways as Prospero’s or Caliban’s worlds are.

RQ: The Tempest, Acts 4 & 5


Keep the following questions in mind as you read The Tempest, Act 4.& 5 The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

What’s the relationship between the disappearing banquet in 3.3 and the nuptial masque in 4.1?

In his aside at the end of act 3, Prospero says, “My high charms work” (3.3.88). What does he mean? Should we credit Prospero with saving Alonso or stirring up trouble between Trinculo and Stephano? Then compare Prospero’s previous claims to “art” with the play-in-the-play that he calls, “Some vanity of mine art” (4.1.41) he puts on for Miranda and Ferdinand.

What sorts of stipulations does Prospero attach to the the “gift” he gives to Ferdinand? What sorts of things will befall the couple if they do not follow Prospero’s instructions?

Compare Iris’ opening intonation to Ceres in the masque to Gonzalo’s utopian vision of the island? What rhetorical features do they share?

Does the weird pagan celebration at the heart of this play seem pagan and/or potentially sacrilegious? Is this the blessing that Prospero warned the couple to wait for?

Why can’t Venus come to the wedding celebration?

What sorts of blessings do the goddesses wish on the couple?

What does Ferdinand mean when he says: “Let me live here ever;/So rare a wondered father and a wise/Makes this place a paradise” (4.1.123-5)?

How & why does the masque end?

How does Prospero comfort Miranda and Ferdinand? Is he successful?

How does Prospero snare the conspirators?

Where does Prospero’s magic (or technical knowledge) come from?

Why does Prospero want to toss out his magic book and staff? Is he successful?

What is Prospero wearing when he reveals himself as “sometime Milan”?

Does Prospero get his revenge on Alonso? On Antonio?

How have the characters transformed over the course of the play? Is it possible for them to ever change back to what they were before the island?

Do the Europeans ever leave?

How does The Tempest end & why?

What’s “Original Pronunciation”? How does it compare to the pronunciation we’ve heard so far?

Why does The Tempest feel so contemporary? To what uses can put it in our world?


RQ: The Tempest, Acts 2 & 3


Keep the following questions in mind as you read The Tempest, Acts 2 & 3The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

What does the Island look like? Where is it? Why can’t the nobles cannot agree on what should be object facts?

Who’s Dido & what purpose does the classical reference serve?

If Gonzalo had a plantation on the island, what would it be like? What assumptions does Gonzalo’s vision of his “plantation” make about “nature”?

Is Alonso, the King of Naples, a good leader/administrator? Compare Alonso’s leadership with some of the other characters and their leadership skills: Prospero, Gonzalo, Sebastian, and Trinculo. Who’s kingdom would you most like to live in? Why does Ariel save Alonso from assassination?

What does Caliban look like when Trinculo meets him for the first time? How does Trinculo react to his first meeting with Caliban?

Compare Caliban’s description of the Island to other descriptions.

Where does Trinculo get the “sack” (fortified wine) that he and the rest of the conspirators drink?

Do the two scenes in act two suggest that conspiracy to overthrow the king is natural?

What sorts of monsters do the Europeans believe inhabit the island? What sorts of monsters actually inhabit the island?

Why does Caliban agree to help Trinculo and Stephano? Can he ever really be set free?

What key words, phrases, or images that get repeated in this act?

What does Ferdinand mean when he says, “The mistress which I serve quickens what’s dead” (3.1.6)?

How’s Ferdinand’s history with women?

Ferdinand refers to himself as a “patient log man” (3.1.68) conscripted to “wooden slavery” (3.1.62). How do his descriptions of himself and his service compare to the epithet Stephano gives Caliban, “servant monster” (3.2.3)?

Has Miranda ever seen any other women?

Are Ferdinand and Miranda married by the end of 3.1?

Why does Caliban kneel before Trinculo & Stephano in 3.2? Why does Ariel contradict the story Caliban tells the other men?

There are a lot of vows taken in Act 3. Compare the vows Miranda and Ferdinand make to one another to the vows Caliban and Stephano exchange.

How do the conspirators plan to Kill Prospero? Compare the rebellion against Prospero to the plot to kill Alonso. Might also compare the two attempted murders to the attempted rape mentioned in 1.2.?

Why does Caliban instruct Stephano to “Burn but his books” (3.2.90) before he kills Prospero?

Why do you think that Caliban pledges his service to Stephano instead of leading the insurgency?

Is Caliban’s description of the isle based on experience or desire? Compare his description to Gonzalo & Trinculo’s.

What’s a “Living Drollery!” (3.3.21)? What does sight of it confirm for the nobles?

What’s a “quaint device” (SD 3.3.52)?

How does the sea function like a character in 3.3?


RQ: The Tempest, Act 1


Keep the following questions in mind as you read The Tempest, Act 1. The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

How does Prospero cause the storm? Does he cause it? Why does he cause the tempest that seems, to the nobles and sailors, at least, to wreck their ship?

How does Shakespeare make the play feel like its set in the future?

What do Sycorax to Prospero have in common? What do Ariel to Miranda have in common? What do Caliban and Ferdinand have in common?

What sorts of transformations have all of the characters on the island undergone by the end of the first act?

Does Prospero manipulate Miranda and Ferdinand at the end of act one, or do they really experience “love at first site”? How does the “love a first site” motif compare to the tempest with which the play opens?

Feel free to use the a database such as Open Source Shakespeare for these sorts of usage questions: What’s the relationship between the words ‘wrack’ and ‘rack’? What does the lack of aural distinction imply? Does Shakespeare repeat any other words or phrases in the first act? If yes, what are the implications?

If you had to stage the magical elements the first act of The Tempest how would you do it? In other words, how would you communicate storm at sea (1.1); Ariel’s invisibility (1.2.374); or Caliban’s supposed strangeness?