Through the Microscope: Understanding "The Tempest" in the Context of the Introduction to Pico della Mirandola’s "Oration on the Dignity of Man"

Michaela Krämer

Abstract


In the format of interpretation the creative laboratory of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” is being revealed. By all accounts “The Tempest” has no specific sources. This study, however, supposes, that Shakespeare could refer to the basic concept and, from this perspective, even very closely rely on the details. Hence, it is proved, that the philosophical impulse of Shakespeare’s tragedy can be considered the introduction to the “Oration on the Dignity of Man” by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, created for the forbidden later theological discussions on relevant topics in Rome (1486), which dealt with the possibility of moral self-determination and individual responsibility. Imposing the lines of the treatise by Pico on the images and plot of the drama by Shakespeare, we immediately notice a twisted three-dimensional image, the transition from abstract relationship to the visible processes of existence and consciousness, at the same time fantastic and real. This analysis is based on the statement, that “The Tempest” can be interpreted as the staging of memorable images of Pico. This statement is relevant to point of view, according to which Shakespeare could choose the idea of the Oration, or directly from the passage of the text. Shakespeare consciously goes beyond the ideas of Pico. If the quotations from the text of Pico are considered as a subtext, it immediately becomes evident that scene, characters and action of the play are based in some way on a complex conceptual scheme. With the underlying meaning of the Oration by Pico, “The Tempest” is a powerful creative experiment and a reasonable appeal to the uniqueness of human life and spiritual freedom of a man. Thus, this study, without resorting to discuss specific aspects of the play, aspires to promote scientific debate about its hidden meaning.

Keywords


William Shakespeare; “The Tempest”; Giovanni Pico della Mirandola; “Oration on the Dignity of Man”; intertext; reception; interpretation

Full Text:

PDF

References


Aquinas, St Thomas. Of the Various Kinds of Law, q. 91, art. 1, FS. In: The Summa Theologica : in 3 vols. New York, 1947–1948, vol. 1. Available at: http://dhspriory.org/thomas/summa/FS/FS091.html#FSQ91OUTP1 (accessed 15 August 2015).

Aquinas, St Thomas. Questiones Disputatae de Veritate, q. 17, art. 1. In: Truth : in 3 vols. Chicago, 1952–1954. Available at: http://dhspriory.org/thomas/QDdeVer.htm (accessed 15 August 2015).

Bloom H. Shakespeare. The Invention of the Human. London, 1999, 745 p.

Cassirer E. An Essay on Man: An Introduction to a Philosophy of Human Culture. Garden City, 1954, 294 p.

Collected Works of Erasmus. Toronto, 1974, vol.1, 368 p.

Craven W. G. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Symbol of his Age: Modern Interpretations of a Renaissance Philosopher. Genève, 1981, 173 p.

Döring T. Change and Strange: Transformations of Shakespeare's The Tempest. An Introduction. In: Critical and Cultural Transformations: Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' – 1611 to the Present. Tübingen, 2013, pp. xi–xxi.

Grant P. The Magic of Charity: A Background to Prospero. Review of English Studies, 1976, vol. 27, pp. 1–16.

Kermode F. Introduction. In: Shakespeare W. The Tempest. London, 1983, pp. xi–xciii.

Kristeller P. O. Eight Philosophers of the Italian Renaissance. London, 1965, 194 p.

Kristeller P. O. Renaissance Thought II: Papers on Humanism and Arts. New York, 1965, 234 p.

Lowell J. R. Shakespeare Once More. In: The Writings of James Russell Lowell in Prose and Poetry. Volume 3: Literary Essays. Boston, 1910, pp. 1–94.

McConica J. Thomas More as Humanist. In: The Cambridge Companion to Thomas More. Cambridge, 2011, pp. 22–45.

Mirandola G. P. On the Dignity of Man. On being and the One. Heptaplus. Indianapolis, 1998, 174 p.

Nabokov V. Strong Opinions. New York, 1990, 335 p.

O'Donnel A. M. Erasmus Desiderius (c. 1466/1469–1536). In: The Routledge Encyclopedia of Tudor England. London, 2010, pp. 237–238.

Safranski R. Das Böse oder das Drama der Freiheit [Evil or the Drama of Freedom]. Frankfurt, 1999, 334 p.

Shakespeare W. The Tempest: An Authoritative Text, Sources and Contexts, Criticism, Rewritings and Appropriations. New York, 2004, 355 p.

Stoll E. E. Shakespeare and other Masters. Cambridge, 1940, 430 p.

Stoll E. E. Shakespeare's Young Lovers; The Alexander Lectures at the University of Toronto, 1935. London, New York, 1937, 118 p.

Strachey L. Shakespeare's Final Period. In: Books and Characters: French and English. London, 1934, pp. 41–56.

Vaughan A. T., Vaughan V. M. Shakespeare's Caliban: A Cultural History. Cambridge, 1991, 290 p.

Vaughan V. M., Vaughan A. T. Additions and Reconsiderations. In: Shakespeare W. The Tempest. London, 2011, pp. 139–160.

Vaughan V. M., Vaughan A. T. Introduction. In: Shakespeare W. The Tempest. London, 2011, pp. 1–138.

Yates F. A. Shakespeare's Last Plays: A New Approach. London, 1975, 140 p.


GOST Style Citations


Aquinas, St Thomas. Of the Various Kinds of Law, q. 91, art. 1, FS [Electronic resource] / St. Thomas Aquinas // The Summa Theologica : in 3 vols. ; trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province. – New York : Benziger Bros., 1947–1948. – Vol. 1. – Available at : http://dhspriory.org/thomas/summa/FS/FS091.html#FSQ91OUTP1.

Aquinas, St Thomas. Questiones Disputatae de Veritate, q. 17, art. 1 [Electronic resource] / St. Thomas Aquinas // Truth : in 3 vols. ; trans. Robert W. Mulligan, James V. McGlynn, and Robert W. Schmidt. – Chicago : H. Regnery Co., 1952–1954. – [Repr.: Indianapolis : Hackett Pub. Co., 1994]. – Available at : http://dhspriory.org/thomas/QDdeVer.htm.

Bloom H. Shakespeare. The Invention of the Human / Harold Bloom. – London : Fourth Estate, 1999. – 745 p.

Cassirer E. An Essay on Man: An Introduction to a Philosophy of Human Culture / Ernst Cassirer. – Garden City : Doubleday, 1954. –294 p.

Collected Works of Erasmus ; ed. Alexander Dalzell. – Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 1974. – Vol.1. – 368 p.

Craven W. G. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Symbol of his Age: Modern Interpretations of a Renaissance Philosopher / William G. Craven. – Genève : Librairie Droz, 1981. – 173 p. – (Traveaux d'Humanisme et Renaissance CLXXXV).

Döring T. Change and Strange: Transformations of Shakespeare's The Tempest. An Introduction / Tobias Döring // Critical and Cultural Transformations: Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' – 1611 to the Present ; ed. Tobias Döring and Virginia Mason Vaughan. – Tübingen : Narr, 2013. – P. xi–xxi. – (REAL: Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature, 29).

Grant P. The Magic of Charity: A Background to Prospero / Patrick Grant // Review of English Studies. – 1976. – Vol. 27. – P. 1–16.

Kermode F. Introduction / Frank Kermode // Shakespeare W. The Tempest ; ed. Frank Kermode. – 6th ed., repr. – London : Methuen, 1983. – P. xi–xciii. – (Arden edition of the works of William Shakespeare).

Kristeller P. O. Eight Philosophers of the Italian Renaissance / Paul Oskar Kristeller. – London : Chatto & Windus, 1965. – 194 p.

Kristeller P. O. Renaissance Thought II: Papers on Humanism and Arts / Paul Oskar Kristeller. – New York : Harper & Row, 1965. – 234 p.

Lowell J. R. Shakespeare Once More / James Russell Lowell // The Writings of James Russell Lowell in Prose and Poetry. Volume 3: Literary Essays. – Boston : Houghton, Mifflin, 1910. – P. 1–94.

McConica J. Thomas More as Humanist / James McConica // The Cambridge Companion to Thomas More ; ed. George M. Logan. – Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2011. – P. 22–45.

Mirandola G. P. On the Dignity of Man. On being and the One. Heptaplus / Giovanni Pico della Mirandola ; [trans. Charles Glenn Wallis, Paul J. W. Miller, and Douglas Carmichael]. – Repr. – Indianapolis : Hackett Pub., 1998. – 174 p.

Nabokov V. Strong Opinions / Vladimir Nabokov. – New York : Vintage Books, 1990. – 335 p.

O'Donnel A. M. Erasmus Desiderius (c. 1466/1469–1536) / Anne M. O'Donnel // The Routledge Encyclopedia of Tudor England ; ed. Arthur F. Kinney and Thomas W. Copeland. – London : Routledge, 2010. – P. 237–238.

Safranski R. Das Böse oder das Drama der Freiheit [Evil or the Drama of Freedom] / Rüdiger Safranski. – 4th ed. – Frankfurt : Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verl., 1999. – 334 p.

Shakespeare W. The Tempest: An Authoritative Text, Sources and Contexts, Criticism, Rewritings and Appropriations / William Shakespeare ; ed. Peter Hulme and William H. Scherman. – New York : W. W. Norton, 2004. – 355 p.

Stoll E. E. Shakespeare and other Masters / Elmer Edgar Stoll. – Cambridge : Harvard University Press, 1940. – 430 p.

Stoll E. E. Shakespeare's Young Lovers; The Alexander Lectures at the University of Toronto, 1935 / Elmer Edgar Stoll. – London, New York : Oxford University Press, 1937. – 118 p.

Strachey L. Shakespeare's Final Period / Lytton Strachey // Books and Characters: French and English. – London : Chatto & Windus, 1934. – P. 41–56.

Vaughan A. T. Shakespeare's Caliban: A Cultural History / Alden T. Vaughan, Virginia Mason Vaughan. – Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1991. – 290 p.

Vaughan V. M. Additions and Reconsiderations / Virginia Mason Vaughan, Alden T. Vaughan // Shakespeare W. The Tempest : [Revised Edition] ; ed. Virginia Mason Vaughan and Alden T. Vaughan. – London : A & C Black, 2011. – P. 139–160. – (The Arden Shakespeare).

Vaughan V. M. Introduction / Virginia Mason Vaughan, Alden T. Vaughan // Shakespeare W. The Tempest : [Revised Edition] ; ed. Virginia Mason Vaughan and Alden T. Vaughan. – London : A & C Black, 2011. – P. 1–138. – (The Arden Shakespeare).

Yates F. A. Shakespeare's Last Plays: A New Approach / Frances A. Yates. – London : Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975. – 140 p.



Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c) 2016

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The journal publishes research papers on terms: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License 

 

Pytannia literaturoznavstva
ISSN 2306-2908 
Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University
2 Kotsiubynsky str., Chernivtsi 58012, Ukraine