The Theme of Natural Order in "The Tempest" Lawrence E. Bowling College English, Vol. 12, No. 4. (Jan., 1951), pp. 203-209. Stable URL: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0010-0994%28195101%2912%3A4%3C203%3ATTONOI%3E2.0.CO%3B2-I College English is currently published by National Council of Teachers of English.
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T H R E E M E T H O D S OF M O D E R N F I C T I O N
fied and embodied. Until this point is naturally alive to the most subtle numade, the reading of modern works of ances of theme. He is not interested literature is sterile and unprofitable. merely in a story, a fabrication-he is Once understood, however, the reader is interested in life.
The Theme o f Natural Order in "The Tempest"
LAWRENCE E. BOWLING'
T H E temptation to see The Tempest as a romance is almost irresistible. Lytton Strachey has excellently summarized this aspect of the play: "In The Tempest, unreality has reached its apotheosis. Two of the principal characters are frankly not human beings a t all; and the whole action passes, through a series of impossible occurrences, in a place which can only by courtesy be said to exist. The Enchanted Island, indeed, peopled, for a timeless moment, by this strange fantastic medley of persons and of things, has been cut adrift for ever from common sense." Strachey concludes, therefore, that a t the time this play was written Shakespeare was "bored with people, bored with real life, bored with drama, bored in fact with everything except poetry and poetical dreams." In like manner, Dover Wilson remarks: "Is not The Tempest of all Shakespeare's plays the most Mozartian, the least amenable to discussion or explanation; a dramatic poem in which the author seems to soar altogether clear of the world of meaning and common sense." The surface appearance of The Tempest does point in the direction of roI Visiting lecturer in English, University of Kentucky. Author of "The Thematic Framework of Romeo and Juliet," PMLA, March, 1949, "The Technique of Faulkner's The Sound and the FzL~Y," Kenyon Review, Autumn, 1948,and "What Is the Stream of Consciousness Technique?" PMLA, June, 1950.
mance; but a close examination of the play reveals that it is not a t all devoid of meaning and common sense, that it is in no way the "poetical dream" of a man bored with real people and real life. On the contrary, The Tempest is really one of the most intellectual and ideological of all Shakespeare's works, reflecting Renaissance ideals, and extremely amenable to discussion and explanation. Among the last works of a mature and practical playwright, it is one of Shakespeare's most significant commentaries upon the conduct of real human beings and practical government in a...
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