RQ: Tempest, Act 2 & Berensmeyer



Keep the following questions in mind as you read The Tempest, Act 2 and the second half of Ingo Berensmeyer, “Shakespeare and Media Ecology: Beyond Historicism and Presentism.” 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.

Tempest Act 2, Reading Questions

  • 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”? (2.1.143-59).
  • 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 reptead in this act?

“Shakespeare and Media Ecology” Questions:

  • According to Berensmeyer, how have ideas about Shakespeare as an author shifted over the years & why? Is ‘history’ in The Tempest politically mediated and if so, why and/or how?
  • How does Berensmeyer’s definition of “media ecology” help account for supernatural elements in The Tempest?
  • Berensmeyer cites McLuen definition of media as “extensions of man” (520). When do we see media or technology as an extension of a character in The Tempest?
  • What does Berensmeyer mean when he says “Costumes provide a good example of this multilayered process of medialization” (524)?
  • What does Shakespeare expect from his audiences?
  • What’s a masque? why does it mean different things to early 17th c. audiences than it does to early 21st century audiences according to Berensmeyer? Why does Berensmeyer connect the fourth act nuptial masque with the 2012 London Olympics? Is he successful?

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