The Tempest

I found the first scene in the Tempest quite reflective of several of the themes that appear later on in he play. The main theme I noticed was the master and slave relationship between the characters. Aboard the ship in the middle of the tempest, the boatswain is tasked with (essentially) a captain’s duties which result in him ordering around the noble passengers on the ship.  The reaction of the nobles is outrage that a commoner order them around, threatening him and refusing to comply. Where many normally would apologize for such transgressions, the boatswain doesn’t care and continues to insist to nobles proceed below deck. However, the nobles reappear after grudgingly obeying the boatswain’s orders, still extremely irritated at having been spoken to in such a manner by a commoner. I saw this as the introduction of the motif of the very prominent master-servant motif. Seen later with Prospero and Caliban, Stephano and Trinculo and their later relationship with Caliban and again with Prospero and Ariel. Like Robert Crawford said in lecture, this motif (especially when examining Caliban) can be seen as reflective of colonialism. I found the first scene very interesting in that it immediately introduced such a key motif in the play. This phenomenon seems fairly common in Shakespeare’s works, as many of the primary themes are introduced in the first couple scenes (King Lear, Othello, Hamlet…etc)


I quite liked Antigone, it served as a nice break after The Republic. In reading the play I found a couple of things I found interesting, the main point being the role of the prophet, Tiresias. I found it amusing that when Haimon told Kreon what he was doing was wrong he was met with a swift “Don’t ‘father’ me. You’re no man. You’re a slave. Property of a woman” (914-915) but when Tiresias gave similar advice (albeit more theatrical) it was met eventually by a ” I must not fight wrongly, only to be defeated, against fate” (1282-1283)”. It appears, to me anyway, that in order to be taken seriously by Kreon, one must be a blind old prophet. Even when Koryphiaos agrees with what Haimon is saying Kreon dismisses it. He ignores the word of his son and the leader of the chorus (and seemingly his chief advisor) only to eventually accept the advice of an old blind man talking about oozing altars. I understand that respect in such matters comes with age but there is no way Tiresias could have witnessed any of the events he is describing, so essentially Kreon changes his mind on the testimonials of a boy and the grandiose words of a blind old man (backed by Koryphiaos, of course at lines 1268-1270). Those who are close and claim to be close to the gods hold an immense power in Greek culture, one that perhaps surpasses reason in certain cases.

The second thing I found interesting was not in the play itself but a comparison. I though it might be interesting to compare Virginia Woolfe’s essay “The Patriarchy” to Antigone. Although it is a 20th century piece, I think a lot of the themes and ideas found in the essay could relate to Antigone. It might be cool.