While I read this play, I had a realization about what made this work different than our other readings. For the first time, religious themes were not bluntly stated or obviously hinted out. Most of our readings laid everything out for us. With The Tempest, I really had to search out and think about how this reading related to our class. Most weeks, I mention the progression in writing styles with each play. With The Tempest, I think William Shakespeare brings a sophistication to religious-themed writing. By not overtly stating the themes, he makes his readers/audience really think about and consider what is happening within the play.
For example, instead of casting God as a character, like our earlier readings would do, Shakespeare just creates ordinary characters. They get into certain situations, and sometimes they do bad things. So, as Christianity teaches us, there are consequences for bad actions. The character of Ariel is a reminder of that. In Act III, Scene III, the men are discussing the idea of murdering another man. Ariel comes in, like an angelic figure, and say, "You fools! I and my fellows are ministers of Fate..." (p. 46). Ariel goes on and accuses the men of being sinners:
"They have bereft; and do pronounce by me: Lingering perdition - worse than death can be at once - shall step by step attend you and your ways..." (p. 46)
I wonder though what Shakespeare's intention of adding religious themes was. Did he truly care about it? Was it pressures from his society - whether it be by authorities or readers - to add religious themes? Or did he do it for the benefit of his characters?
Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue
As I read the introduction to this reading, this portion stuck out to me:
"jumbled the heraldic and mythical figures together in strange profusion; it was both comic and serious, and anything but realistic..." (p. 1)
I always thought of rituals worshipping deities to be so serious. I find very surprising that there were comic elements to some of these ceremonies. I assumed these people would be afraid to do something that could be misconstrued as being disrespectful to God. Also, I found it very interesting that the participants in these masques intended to lose money. How would they continue to do masques if they had no money? Regardless, I think it was very fitting that we were assigned to read a masque along with a Shakespeare play this week. I saw "As You Like It" this summer. This was the first time I saw a Shakespeare story as a play - not as a movie with a modern twist. Shakespeare's writing rings reminiscent of the extravagance of masques.
But on that note, I found the masque to be hard to read, since it is largely just a series of songs. It doesn't translate to text well, I think. It is clearly a spectacle meant to be viewed, not read about. But obviously, we are at a disadvantage here, since masques are no longer performed. So, we are just left to imagine what they would look and sound like.