blind ambition in the Tempest

The Tempest is one of my favourites by Shakespeare. The fact that it is set in such an enclosed,  isolated, and exotic place makes for not only a nicely different visual aesthetic  from many Shakespeare plays, but it also initiates an interesting social experiment between the characters. For it was intriguing to watch the behaviours of people with such controlling, ambitious personalities in a place too desolate for there to be much to control at all. There was a sense of juvenile futility and desperation in seeing such a mass of (literally) washed up noblemen with obstinately determined personalities conspiring for control of whatever they could get their hands on. The characters in the Tempest are so seized by their ambitions of gaining status, that they continuously overlook the logistics of the situation. Very rarely is their a discussion surrounding actually getting back to the country they all so wish to rule. Furthermore, the plot Caliban leads (all while drunk) to help usurp Prospero on an island with little to rule anyways emphasizes the potential pettiness which ambition can lead to. This is especially true when put into the context of people who are unable to reap the benefits of their potential successes, as are the likes of Sebastien and Antonio, as they’re trapped on an island.


On another note, the idea that Platonic themes were incorporated into the play confused me a bit. How exactly is Prospero a philosopher king? It was also mentioned in lecture that some characters in the play have “soul-types” which can be categorized into those outlined in The Republic (that of appetite, spirit, and reason). This seems accurate, but not like complete proof of the connection.

Antigone would vote Tea Party

The comparably specific themes and issues of Antigone were a nice change from the behemoth that was the Republic. Yet I found the situation in Sophocles’ work to be no less gripping. For Antigone’s dilemma seemed fairly pertinent and universal-  should she abide by the law or follow what she thinks is right? The fact that such a problem could even exists points out the flaws in law-making and laws in general.  Furthermore, it conveys a political issue that is still around today- the anarchy question.  Antigone’s story is an excellent case -in- point argument which any modern libertarian would love to use against big government.  It proves that it is very difficult, if not impossible for one to demonstrate absolute faith and obedience to a leader they may not even have chosen or liked, and that it’s possible for humans to remain lawlessly noble.  On the other hand it is a bit of a copout to justify breaking the law because you  simply can’t agree with it or those involved in making it. Yet when it comes down to it, this is what Antigone is doing. The play’s premise is perfect for making a law-breaker not only look innocent but utterly benevolent. However the piece doesn’t do this by focusing on the corruption or unfairness of the law being broke, but rather on the untouchable virtue of family duty and religion. (Although Kreon doesn’t strike my as a particularly good leader.) Should these virtues be prioritized below rules implemented by a leader?  This is the conversation Antigone brings up. In my opinion, the answer to this question would be yes, as I think laws and regulations help maintain equality and keep people from doing crazy things they’ll probably regret. But I’m also non-religious and like to think I agree with most laws anyway, so this is likely a bias outlook.