Tag Archives: Stage History

Conventions. 10 Sept.



Historical Terms Description
16th & 17th century Shakespeare, and the thriving theater business to which he contributed, performed in public, open air theaters; private, indoor theaters; at court; at the ins-at-court; at the colleges; and on tour from 1576 (when James Burbage opened The Theater in Shoreditch) till 1642 (when the staging of plays was banned by the Puritans who controlled Parliament during the First English Civil War).
Elizabethan Queen Elizabeth I ruled England 1559-1603. 
Jacobean James I ruled England and Scotland 1603-1625.
Renaissance (1450-1600 approx.) The term “Renaissance” came into use in the later half of the 19th century to describe cultural production in mostly Italy and France. Literary critics and historians began describing Shakespeare as an author belonging to the “English Literary Renaissance” in the early part of the 20th century. Might want to keep in mind: Terms contemporary scholars use to describe the past are “…more typically extensions of the naming practices seen in examples of ‘Renaissance’ businesses found in any telephone directory: labels that seek to suggest qualities in objects, practices, persons, and times that do not obviously possess them” (Douglas Bruster “Shakespeare and the End of History” 149). 
Early Modern (1500-1700 approx.) Term applied by scholars and historians in the late 20th century to describe the period defined by events such as the Reformation, the printing press, the Age of Discovery, Vanishing Point Perspective, etc. This term emphasizes and affinity between Shakespeare’s time and post-war America. The term is also useful because, unlike Renaissance, it does not assume that the period prior was somehow dead enough to be reborn.
Restoration (1660-1689) Last gasp of the Tudor/Stuart monarchy and a production of art, especially theater, that advanced impulses similar to those Shakespeare and fellow authors, actors, impresarios. This little slice of English history describes the years Charles II and briefly his brother James II ruled England were restored to the throne in England after eleven years of Parliamentary rule called the Interregnum. The theaters in England remained closed from 1642-1660.

Writing Workshop

Part I. Take 10 minutes and read through the draft of the short paper that you brought to class. Once you have finished make note of the following:

  • What is your main claim and how have you developed it?
  • Do you define your key terms?
  • Do you attend to the citations you chose from The Tempest at the sentence level? 
  • In a couple of sentences describe the next steps you plan to take.

Part II. Push the desks into a circle, and each of you can read her/his paper aloud or describe your claim, terms, and evidence. Take note as your peers read and/or describe their papers, so you can ask questions/make suggestions when they finish speaking.

RQ: Tempest Act 3 & 4

after Unknown artist,print,circa 1649


Keep the following questions in mind as you read The Tempest, Act 3 & 4. 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.

The Tempest, Act 3

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?

The Tempest, Act 4

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

Banqueting House, Whitehall

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?





Banqueting House, Inigo Jones, 1619