"Are We Being Historical Yet?"
Colonialist Interpretations of Shakespeare's Tempest
By Ben Ross Schneider, Jr.
Not long ago, Carolyn Porter, in an article entitled "Are We
Being Historical Yet?", assessed the achievements of the "new histori-
cists". Agreeing with Louis Montrose that new historicism was "on its
way to becoming the newest academic orthodoxy," especially in Renais-
sance studies, she concluded, that although new historicism had pro-
vided a much-needed corrective to traditionally ahistorical literary
study, the answer to the question raised in her title was "No."~1 In
what follows I shall extend her critique to recent work on The Tem-
pest, a play that has attracted widespread attention among new
historicists as a paradigm of early modern colonialism.~2 My findings
corroborate Professor Porter's conclusion: we still have a long way
to go before we can feel even somewhat confident that we are histori-
cizing, if we ever can.
According to Professor Porter, it is their fixation on Foucault's
conceptualization of power that stands between the new historicists
and effective historicization.~3
Foucault's perspective on the discursive field apparently fosters
[a tendency in new historicist practice] to exclude, which is a
necessary precondition for addressing a particular cultural
discourse, but then to repress the fact of that exclusion, so
that a particular discourse, or set of discourses, comes to stand
for the horizonless field of Discourse.~4
Thus she watches Stephen Greenblatt and Steven Mullaney marginalize
the very others (Algonkians, Welsh) whose othering they so clearly
deplore, erasing their history, in the process of showing how power on
the Foucauldian model, "absolutized as a transhistorical force, . . .
relentlessly produces and recontains subversion."~5 As a result, we
limited to one set of discourses - those which form the site of a
dominant ideology - and then reifying that limit as if it were
coterminous with the limits of discourse in general. It is this
issue of framing the discursive field which new historicists most
urgently need to address.~6
It is "this issue of framing" that I shall address again in a
study of eight recent analyses of The Tempest. By choosing
colonialism as a frame,and then "reifying" that frame as if it were
coterminus with the limits of discourse in general, I find that they
do indeed marginalize not only a large field of pertinent contemporary
discourse, but also The Tempest itself. For as we are constantly
reminded, we must explore, "both the social presence to the world of
the literary text and the social presence of the world in the
literary text."~7 To carry out this project, we have to answer the
question, "What difference did The Tempest make to what fields of
discourse?" By too assiduously implementing the colonialist frame,
the eight critics I study here effectively forestall any attempt to
answer it in terms of a full range of possibilities. This happens
despite the ostensible variety of approaches they take to the play.
Thomas Cartelli (1987)~8, basing his account on the work of
African and Caribbean writers, takes the stance that Shakespeare is to
blame for the way in which British imperialists have justified
colonial oppression on the model of Caliban's apparent ineducability.
Curt Breight (1990)~9 holds that the play is innocent of this charge,
and is instead an expose of James I's rule, in which Prospero's disci-
plinary measures caricature the crown's terror tactics in such broad
strokes that a Jacobean audience could not miss them. Exactly
reversing this position, Lori Leininger (1980)~10 perceives that far
from exposing the injustices of the society in which it is embedded,
the play is guilty of trying to cover them up, although it fails to
handle all sorts of exasperating anomalies. Expressing the same
dissatisfaction in more theoretical terms, Paul Brown (1985)~11
maintains that The Tempest actually "intervened" in "an ambivalent
and even contradictory contemporary discourse" of colonialism:
This intervention takes the form of a powerful and pleasurable
narrative which seeks at once to harmonize disjunction, to
transcend irreconcilable contradictions and to mystify the
political conditions which demand colonialist discourse. Yet the
narrative ultimately fails to deliver that containment and
instead may be seen to foreground precisely those problems which
it works to efface or overcome.~12
The team of Francis Barker and Peter Hulme~13 is more interested in
the contradictions in our own society: "The onus on new readings,
especially radical readings aware of their own theoretical and
political positioning, should be to proceed by means of a critique of
the dominant readings of a text."~14 Stephen Orgel (1987)~15, in the
exhaustive Introduction to his splendid Oxford edition, avoids
theoretical terminology, but his treatment is patently a
deconstruction of the traditional idealist reading. Eric Cheyfetz,~16
who approaches colonialism and The Tempest via the metaphor of
translation finds interesting parallels between Prospero as dictator
of an official language and the way in which official languages are
used in the conquest of native peoples. Finally, Stephen Greenblatt
(1988) in his "Martial Law in the Land of Cokaigne"~17 frames his
critique with his own theory of "salutary anxiety," derived from an
anecdote of Bishop Latimer, and showing that governors, Prospero being
a case in point, may raise the threat of imminent calamity in order to
win credit for averting it.
For some reason the great variety of theoretical underpinning in
this set of essays does not produce a corresponding variety of
interpretation. All critiques proceed in much the same fashion to
dismantle a presumed "authorized version" of the play that idealizes
and romanticizes Prospero as a noble regenerator of fallen
humanity.~18 Or to put it in the words of Barker and Hulme, "athwart
its alleged unity, the text is in fact marked and fissured by the
interplay of the discourses that constitute it."~19 When we have
deconstructed the play, we find ourselves standing in the presence of
naked power. It becomes evident, as one surveys these new historicist
interpretations, that the "fissures" most commonly detected tend to be
the same ones:
All but one of these critics pick, as the opening fissure in the
romantic surface of the play the "refreshingly subversive"~20 storm
scene with which the play begins, in which helpless, hapless nobles
must put up with the insults of desperate mariners trying to save the
ship.~21 Right away power reveals itself in subversion. The nearly
unanimous choice of this scene is symptomatic of the whole critical
approach. By framing the scene as colonial discourse, these critics
foreclose the possibility that the storm (in nature and society)
represents and dramatizes, as in Lear,the social disorder that
ensues when a state is irresponsibly governed. What does the title
signify? It seems more likely here that The Tempest is here
participating in contemporary discourse on government, about which I
shall have more to say later.
Prospero's self-contradictory and contradicted prologue (1.2)~22
In his long exposition to Miranda, telling her who they are, how
they got here, and what they are doing now, Prospero, according to
these critics is at cross-purposes with himself. While his anger at
the usurpers of his Dukedom seems to know no bounds, he at the same
time blames his overthrow on his inattention to duty, his having
retired from public affairs to study "liberal arts."~23 Here we see
power at work, disguising its own motives and intentions, even from
itself. Here contemporary discourse on anger could be relevant, but
the critical approach closes the door in advance on any non-political
Further, by giving credit to "Providence Divine" (1.1.159) for
casting them upon the island, Prospero implies that he legitimately
rules the island by some sort of manifest destiny.~24 But the ensuing
scenes with Ariel and Caliban make it clear that Caliban's mother once
owned the island and that Caliban inherits it from her.~25 In short,
the official version, for Miranda's ears only, is wrong: Prospero
rules not by manifest destiny but by force.~26 Again the frame
marginalizes other options, for it is not a forgone conclusion that
Prospero's primary reason for taking charge of the island is to make
it his colony.
However, it turns out that Caliban has attempted to rape Miranda.
Is he an innocent victim of colonial exploitation or a criminal
deservedly punished for a crime? The question could be left open in
the name of that plurality of on which Orgel insists in his
introduction. But the frame does not allow plurality, and the critics
here surveyed do their best to weaken the violence force of the rape.
First, say they, Prospero brings up the matter of the rape to divert
attention from Caliban's rightful claim to the island; and second,
colonialists always excuse their barbarity by attributing sub-human
characteristics to the native population. Read properly, this
business about rape is just another colonialist tactic, a tired excuse
for repressive violence.~27
This rationalization is not very convincing in terms of the text
that it effaces, but which is nevertheless still there. To establish
the rape excuse theory, one must overturn three witnesses, including
the would-be rapist himself still lusting after the victim. And if
Caliban and Ariel are opposites, as we are certainly invited to
suppose, the colonialist frame marginalizes this way of looking at the
play as well.
Barker and Hulme speak of "Prospero's well-known
irascibility."~28 Chiefly noted are
- his impatient asides to Miranda during his introductory speech;~29
- his annoyance at Ariel's plea for freedom;~30
- his "hysterical" response to Caliban's claim of prior ownership;~31
- his irate chastisement of Ferdinand, his own choice for his
daughter's hand, on a trumped-up charge;~32
- his obvious joy at the suffering of his enemies;~33
- and certainly his exasperated realization, in the midst of the
masque celebrating the betrothal of Ferdinand and Miranda, that if he
doesn't act fast he may soon be murdered by Caliban's junta.~34
Prospero's frequent and "puzzling" losses of temper do indeed mar
the beautiful surface of a romantic Tempest. But are they really
leaks in the play's romantic envelope which reveal the ugly
colonialism within, or do they better fit another paradigm. Again the
frame cuts off speculation.
However, close on the point where Prospero's rage peaks (4.1.145)
comes Prospero's renunciation of vengeance and his abjuration of
magic, acts which introduce real problems for the colonialist
hypothesis, for if we accept this reversal at face value, he
repudiates his whole career as a despot. Again, instead of leaving us
in a state of negative capability, the frame requires an elaborate
exercise in looking the other way. In so doing the colonialist
critics simply erase the climax of the play.
For Paul Brown, after the masque, after the trivialization by
ridicule of Caliban's rebellion, after the celebration of upper-class
solidarity in the wedding of Ferdinand and Miranda, Prospero's project
is finished; he has "euphemized" his own power politics so well that
he has virtually nullified himself, and now has nothing to do but go
home and wait for death. "The completion of the colonialist project
signals the banishment of its supreme exponent even as his triumph is
declared."~35 Curt Breight, using the analogy of Prospero's scare
tactics to James I's technique of death sentences and reprieves, sees
Prospero's reformation in almost exactly the same way, as a further
exercise of power.~36 Stephen Orgel argues that the ending in recon-
ciliation and renunciation is a total sham. The evil brother has not
repented; Prospero may not ultimately keep his promise to break his
wand; he has not given up a daughter, but won a throne: in returning
to Milan he will reach all the goals that his magic was meant to
achieve. In the end we witness, not the renunciation of magic, but
magic's "triumph."~37 Nor are Thomas Cartelli and Lori Leininger
fooled by the ending, a vain attempt to hide an outrage that refuses
to be hid.~38 Francis Barker and Peter Hulme allow some ambivalence,
but "the lengths [they say] to which the play has to go to achieve a
legitimate ending may . . . be read as the quelling of a fundamental
disquiet concerning its own functions within the projects of
colonialist discourse.~39 It's just a coverup after all, and the play
is an egregious hypocrite. Here the application of the colonialist
frame requires the "refutation of the ending."~40
It is not just the climax that has been effaced,~41 but with it
an extensive field of early modern European discourse on which it
draws and to which it reports. Prospero's change of heart occurs just
after Caliban and his fellow-mutineers have been punished for their
assault on his life. Ariel is reporting the status of his chastening
of the upper-class conspirators.
Your charm so strongly works 'em
That if you now beheld them, your affections
Would become tender.
<Pros.> Dost thou think so, spirit?
<Ari.> Mine would, sir, were I human.
<Pros.> And mine shall.
Hast thou, which art but air, a touch, a feeling,
Of their afflictions, and shall not myself
One of their kind, that relish all as sharply
Passion as they, be kindlier mov'd than thou art?
Though with their high wrongs I am strook to th'quick,
Yet, with my nobler reason, 'gainst my fury
Do I take part. The rarer action is
In virtue than in vengeance. (5.1.17-28)
Some years ago Eleanor Prosser~42 traced this passage to John
Florio's translation of Montaigne's essay On Cruelty. Florio's
language is indeed close (I have emphasized the words that both he and
He that through a naturall facilitie and genuine mildnesse should
neglect or contemne injuries received, should no doubt performs a
rare action, and worthy commendation: but he who being toucht
and stung to the quicke with any wrong or offence received,
should arme himselfe with reason against this furiously blind
desire of revenge, and in the end after a great conflict yeeld
himselfe master over it, should doubtlesse doe much more. The
first should doe well, the other vertuously: the one action
might be termed Goodnesse, the other Vertue. For it seemeth
that the very name of Vertue presupposeth difficultie, and
inferreth resistance, and cannot well exercise itselfe without an
Long before Florio had Englished these words (1603), Thomas Elyot had
expressed very much the same sentiment in his handbook for gentlemen,
named The Governour (1531), under the heading "Of Pacience in
sustayninge wronges and rebukes:"
Unto hym that is valyaunt of courage, it is a great payne and
difficultie to sustayne Iniurie, and nat to be forthwith
reuenged. And yet often tymes is accounted more valyauntnesse in
the sufferaunce than in hasty reuengynge.~44
In awarding points for degree of difficulty, Elyot manages to
anticipate Montaigne. King James I, in his letter of advice to his
son (1603)--citing Cicero's advice to his son (De Officiis),
Seneca's essay on clemency, the Aeneid, and Aristotle's Ethics--
counsels the apparent future king to
Embrace trew magnanimitie, not in beeing vindictiue, which the
corrupted Judgements of the world thinke to be trew Magnanimitie,
but by the contrarie, in thinking your offendour not worthie of
your wrath, empyring ouer your owne passion, and triumphing in
the commaunding your selfe to forgiue.~45
In his Characters of the Virtues and Vices (1608) Joseph Hall, later
Bishop, counsels likewise:
The Patient Man finds that victory consists in yielding. He is
above nature, while he seems below himself. The vilest creature
knows how to turn again, but to command himself not to resist,
being urged, is more than heroical.~46
These echoes suggest a common origin, and, of course, they have one:
in the writings of the Roman moralists:
[Do not] listen to those who think that one should indulge in
violent anger against one's political enemies and imagine that
such is the attitude of a great-spirited, brave man. For nothing
is more commendable, nothing more becoming in a preeminently
great man than courtesy and forbearance. (Cicero, De
Revenge is the confession of a hurt; no mind is truly great that
bends before injury. . . . There is no surer proof of greatness
than to be in a state where nothing can possibly happen to
disturb you. . . . The lofty mind is always calm, at rest in a
quiet haven; crushing down all that engenders anger, it is re-
strained, commands respect, and is properly ordered. (Seneca,
Editors of The Tempest are puzzled by the fact that "virtue"
and "vengeance" don't seem to be correlatives.~49 In Roman discourse
of morality they are.
The idea that Shakespeare is the universal man, tied to no time
or place, dies very hard, so hard that even the scholars most
dedicated to rehistoricizing him cannot seem to break themselves of
the habit of thinking of him as one of us, seeing his times through
our eyes. Between us and Shakespeare lie the development of
capitalist society, and the French, Romantic, and industrial
revolutions. But we read Shakespeare almost as if nothing had
happened. Should we not, in order to understand him, his audience,
and, by virtue of the uncompromising law of believability, his charac-
ters, become familiar with the "ethic" that preceded The Protestant
Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism? What notions of good and bad
governed early modern decision-making? Social historians generally
agree that they were quite different from ours. According to Karl
The Bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an
end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has
pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to
his 'natural superiors,' and left remaining no other nexus
between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous cash
payment. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstacies of religious
fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism,
in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved
personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the
numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, it has set up that
single unconscionable freedom--Free Trade. (Communist
In his fact-filled study, The World We Have Lost (1965), Peter
Laslett quotes this passage as the "words [of] the most penetrating of
all observers of the world we have lost."~51
The great Max Weber expands on Marx's "icy water of egotistical
calculation" in his Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,
but has more to say about the ethic that comes before in his Essays
The ancient economic ethic of neighborliness [was fostered] by
the guild, or the partners in seafaring, hunting and warring
expeditions. These communities have known two elemental
principles: first, the dualism of in-group and out-group
morality; second, for in-group morality, simple reciprocity: 'As
you do unto me I shall do unto you.' From these principles the
following [consequences] have resulted for economic life: for
in-group morality the principled obligation to give brotherly
support in distress has existed. The wealthy and the noble were
obliged to loan, free of charge, goods for the use of the
propertyless, to give credit free of interest, and to extend
liberal hospitality and support. Men were obliged to render
services upon request of their neighbors, and likewise, on the
lord's estate, without compensation other than mere sustenance.
All this followed the principle: your want of today may be mine
tomorrow. This principle was not, of course, rationally weighed,
but it played its part in sentiment. Accordingly, higgling in
exchange and loan situations, as well as permanent enslavement
resulting, for instance, from debts, were confined to outgroup
morality and applied only to outsiders.~52
For Jurgen Habermas, Marx's "egotistical calculation", stripped
of its emotive ramifications, becomes the "purposive-rational"
behavior of modern western man, in which right action is whatever
makes sense given the goal, as opposed to "symbolic interaction," in
which right action is that which coincides with mutually-understood
social norms, in default of any ultimate goal.~53 Today a "rational
choice model" governs the research of most political scientists,
though it is now strenuously challenged (see, for instance, Sven
Longstreth, Frank Steinmo and Kathleen Thelen, Structuring Politics:
Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Analysis, ch. 1).~54 For
Shakespeare's society, if we are to take the advice of the social
historians, a "symbolic interaction model" would produce a better fit.
Karl Polanyi, in The Great Transformation holds that although
"purposive-rational" ethics go hand in hand with industrialization, no
truly purposive-rational society has ever existed, unless for a short
time in the "satanic mills" of Dickens's England, when some amount of
starvation was rationalized as necessary to labor's becoming a
commodity in fact. Before and since, though they have tolerated a
high degree of rationality in human relations, "free market" societies
have simply refused to tolerate starvation. In 1944 Polanyi wrote
The outstanding discovery of recent historical and
anthropological research is that man's economy, as a rule, is
submerged in his social relationships. He does not act so as to
safeguard his individual interest in the possession of material
goods; he acts so as to safeguard his social standing, his social
claims, his social assets. He values material goods only in so
far as they serve this end.~55
Or, as Shakespeare put the case, out of the mouth of Iago into the ear
Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed. (3.3.155-161)
Or again, from the mouth of Cassio: "O, I have lost my reputation! I
have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial"
The "norms" of which these social scientists speak are of course
a prominent feature of those "primitive" societies that captivate the
anthropologists: for example, Marcel Mauss in his classic The Gift:
Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies, introduced by
E. E. Evans-Pritchard (1954);~56 and Marshall Sahlins in Stone Age
Economics, his amazing account of the idyllic life of actual hunters
and gatherers.~57 In The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of
Property, Lewis Hyde has explored the function of these same stone
age economics in the production of art.~58 The Romans apparently
remembered or observed or retained vestiges of this pre-agricultural
age, and admired it, as Seneca testifies in quoting Virgil's
No ploughman tilled the soil, nor was it right
To portion off or bound one's property.
Men shared their gains, and earth more freely gave
Her riches to her sons who sought them not.
What race of men [comments Seneca] was ever more blest than that
race? They enjoyed all nature in partnership. Nature sufficed
for them . . . and this her gift consisted of the assured
possession by each man of the common resources.~59
When we study Kwakiutl society, we try to find out what the
Kwakiutls think they are doing before we decide what we think they
are doing. If it were known that every Kwakiutl had access to a book
of rules for righteous living, we would certainly consult this book
before presuming to explain Kwakiutl behavior. Closer to home,
before we declare the Jacobean position on colonialism, shouldn't we
know what ethical tools the Jacobeans brought to the task of judging
it? For Shakespeare's society hundreds of moral rule books are
available, but they are almost never consulted. The result, to use
Habermas's terms, is that we're trying to impose a "purposive-
rational" model on a society controlled by "symbolic interaction",
about as sensible a procedure as using the Boy Scout's Law to explain
Considering our manifest need for cultural material pertaining to
Shakespeare's work, it is difficult to imagine how we can have
overlooked the ocean of early modern ethical discourse opened to us in
Ruth Kelso's monumental bibliography of Renaissance books pertaining
to the Doctrine of the English Gentleman (1929) and The Doctrine
for the Lady (1956).~60 These works comprise almost 1500 titles,
about one-third in English. And Professor Kelso does not include
classical moralists in their own or modern languages, which would more
than double that number. In her second book she summarizes her
findings as follows: "the bulk of all that these treatises contain is
made up of commonplaces, culled mostly from the ancients, whose names
besprinkle the pages of all writers. . . . There is plenty of
evidence that these same commonplaces were not of mere academic
interest, for the letters, speeches, and fiction of the time are full
of the same ideas and rules for conduct."~61 The famous "humanists"
who populated Renaissance universities made their livings by teaching
grammar, rhetoric, poetry, history and moral philosophy.~62 Since
both rhetoric and history were given strong moral emphasis, it may be
said that the universities were to a great extent schools of virtue.
At Oxford and Cambridge, undergraduates may still "read" moral
philosophy for the B.A. degree.
Perhaps we have slighted Renaissance morality because we're
following a false scent. Although a great many classical writers were
re-discovered and re-born during the Renaissance, there was no re-
naissance of moral philosophers, because they never died, and couldn't
be reborn. They simply weren't what happened, and therefore they do
not figure in our history of the Renaissance.~63 So, for example,
Kerrigan and Braden's Idea of the Renaissance (1989) abandons the
period's enormous investment in morality in order to pursue a vision
of personal, political, and philosophical development leading to
democratic (bourgeois) individualism and Kantian idealism.~64
Similarly, in a chapter of his book on the Senecan tradition actually
entitled "Stoicism in the Renaissance," Braden omits any mention of
Stoicism's domination of school and college education and the self-
improvement market.~65 In such ways the vast ocean of moral discourse
on which Shakespeare's plays float has been drained out of the past by
the whig view of history and the idea of progress.
We may also be victims of a mis-definition of Stoicism leading to
the mistaken notion that Shakespeare rejected the whole system. If
Stoicism is defined simply as lack of feeling, as we tend to do,~66
then Shakespeare is obviously not a Stoic. But Stoics have lots to
say about responsibility, reciprocity, courage, integrity, reputation,
fortune, love, duty, death, education, government, and many other
categories of life. They cannot be reduced to their position on
passion. And because Stoic discourse only makes explicit for
Shakespeare's generation a pre-capitalist ethical scheme whose origins
are the tribal experience, antiquity, Christianity, chivalry, the
Roman occupation itself, and school and university education, they
only reinforce habits that already make up the fabric of society.
Although his status as an intellectual requires him to show
familiarity with their discourses, the Stoics do not really
"influence" Shakespeare. They are already an integral part of his
reality and of the test of probability that his characters must pass.
Fortunately for us Professor Kelso's list of those ancients most
commonly cited in conduct books is very short, consisting solely of
Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and Seneca.~67 Since only scholars commonly
read Greek, that leaves Cicero and Seneca in command of the greater
part of the reading public. Apparently the principal conduits of
classical moral thought in Shakespeare's time were Cicero's De
Officiis and Seneca's Essays and Epistles, in particular his De
Beneficiis, a comprehensive philosophical investigation of every
possible ramification of gift exchange (translated into English in
De Officiis was the first classical text ever printed.
(1465)~68 The British Museum Catalogue lists 11 printed editions of
it before 1600--8 interlinear trots, 1 English without Latin, and 2 in
Latin. 18 more editions were published before 1700. For comparison,
the BMC lists no edition of any dialogue of Plato in any language
printed in England before 1600, and only one edition of Aristotle's
Ethics, a translation into English of Brunetto Latini's compendium
of its "preceptes of good behauour and perfighte honestie." Sir
Thomas Elyot, in his famous Governour (1531), a standard work on the
training of gentlemen, lists three essential texts: Plato's works,
Aristotle's Ethics, and De Officiis. "Those three bokes," Elyot
says, "be almost sufficient to make a perfecte and excellent gover-
nour".~69 In The Complete Gentleman (1622), Henry Peacham implies
that De Officiis is a standard beginning Latin text, along with
Aesop's Fables for beginning Greek.~70 In the preface to his
translation of 1681 Sir Roger L'Estrange calls it "the commonest
school book that we have," and goes on to observe, "as it is the best
of books, so it is applied to the best of purposes, that is to say, to
training up of youth in the study and exercise of virtue." King
James I's own de officiis, Basilikon Doron, in which he tells his
son Prince Henry his duties as man and ruler, refers him to Cicero 55
times, 16 of them to De Officiis.
"In the Renaissance no Latin author was more highly esteemed than
Seneca," said T. S. Eliot.~71 Montaigne confesses that his oeuvre is
totally dependent on Seneca and Plutarch.~72 Erasmus, Justus Lipsius,
and J. F. Gronovius published "famous editions" of Seneca's Essays
in the 16th and 17th centuries.~73 The BMC shows that in 1547 the
first Senecan epistle was translated into English by R. Whyttynton,
Poet Laureate. Arthur Golding translated his De Beneficiis in 1578,
quite soon enough for Shakespeare to have read it before writing The
Merchant, and in 1614 Thomas Lodge translated the complete moral
works. Something called Seneca's Morals, probably a compendium of
excerpts, was published in English in 1607. Then, in 1678, Sir Roger
L'Estrange published Seneca's Morals by Way of Abstract. By 1793 it
had gone into 17 editions. I found a copy (Cleveland: 1856) in my
mother-in-law's Illinois farmhouse.
If Ann Jennalie Cook is right, the field of discourse I have been
describing would have been a major means of communication between
Shakespeare and his audience, for her copious evidence shows that the
best educated and most well-read segment of society, and therefore the
most steeped in classical morality, composed the main body of his
audience.~74 Some discourses dominate the way other discourses are
understood, as for instance, nowadays, feminist discourse. Was not
Stoicism, in the comprehensive sense I argue for here, such a
discourse during the Renaissance?
Discourse of Anger
If what I am proposing is true, it is no surprise that
Montaigne's essay on Cruelty, where Professor Prosser found the
passage on virtue and vengeance, is a remake of Seneca's treatise on
Anger.~75 For Seneca, this passion is one of the two most destructive
that plague mankind. (The other is Lust.)
Anger [he says] is temporary madness. For it is equally devoid
of self-control, forgetful of decency, unmindful of ties, persis-
tent and diligent in whatever it begins, closed to reason and
counsel, excited by trifling causes, unfit to discern the right
If we identify Prospero as an exemplar of the Senecan angry man, his
behavior is easier to explain. He joins a sizable list of Shakespea-
re's angry madmen, whose fury drives them down an irreversible course
to certain disaster, notably Lear, Hotspur, Coriolanus, Macbeth,
Othello, Timon. Anger interrupts the tale of Prospero's deposition--
that he had himself to blame only adds fuel to the flame. Anger
bridles at Ariel's recalcitrance. Anger punishes Caliban's
insubordination with extreme cruelty.~77 Anger makes him unable to
contain his hatred of Ferdinand, his chosen heir, because he is the
son of his mortal enemy. And anger produces his evident glee at the
success of his punishments of the conspirators.
It is only an illusion of romantic critics that Prospero is in
control of his domain. (In their adaptation of The Tempest for
Restoration audiences, Dryden and Davenant emphasize his bungling
incompetence.~78 "A man cannot be called powerful--no, not even free
if he is the captive of his anger," says Seneca.~79 Anger is in
charge, and Prospero dances to its tune. No wonder he explodes into
the most remarkable rage in his daughter's memory when he remembers,
during the masque, that he is about to be murdered by Caliban and his
drunken crew. We have been watching a slow burn. When will he have
peace? Seneca speaks to his predicament:
Rage will sweep you hither and yon, this way and that, and your
madness will be prolonged by new provocations that constantly
arise. Tell me, unhappy man, will you ever find time to love?
What precious time you are wasting upon an evil thing! How much
better would it be at this present moment to be gaining friends,
reconciling enemies, serving the state, devoting effort to
private affairs, than to be casting about to see what evil you
can do to some man, what wound you may deal to his position, his
estate, or his person. . . ~80
When, prompted by his "nobler reason (5.1.26), he admits his
common humanity --admits "feeling [the same] passion as they"
(5.1.24)--the play is again speaking the language of Stoicism, for
following reason to such a conclusion is Seneca's recommended therapy
No man of sense will hate the erring; otherwise he will hate
himself. Let him reflect how many times he offends against
morality, how many of his acts stand in need of pardon; then he
will be angry with himself also.~81
Whereas Seneca gloomily insists that we are all as bad as the worst,
Elyot trusts that we are all as good as the best:
Of no better claye (as I mought frankely saye) is a gentilman
made than a carter, and of libertie of wille as moche is gyuen of
god to the poore herdeman, as to the great and mighty
But perhaps equating up is no different from equating down.
Observing that we do not get revenge on dumb animals who injure
us, Seneca wonders why we are so hard on our own species:
For what difference does it make that [a man's] other qualities
are unlike those of dumb animals if he resembles them in the one
quality that excuses dumb animals for every misdeed - a mind that
is all darkness?~83
That "darkness~84 that fills the mind" torments Seneca--
not so much the necessity of going astray, as the love of
straying. That you may not be angry with individuals, you must
forgive mankind at large, you must grant indulgence to the human
From here it is an easy step to Prospero's final position with respect
to the "beast Caliban" (4.1.141), pp. "This thing of darkness I ac-
knowledge mine" (5.1.275)~86, not so puzzling a remark in its moral
context as it is in the strictly-framed view of colonialist
Discourse of Freedom
At the climax of the play, then, Prospero wins freedom from the
darkness that fills his mind. "Freedom" is another of The Tempest's
power words, so important that Shakespeare uses his dramatic medium's
points of strongest emphasis to call it to our attention. Three acts
close on freedom, and the play ends with the word "free." At the end
of act 1, Ariel asks for his freedom. At the end of act 2, Caliban
runs offstage shouting "Freedom, high-day!" Act 4 ends with Prospero
promising Ariel his freedom after one more task.
If freedom is mastery, act 3 also ends on freedom, when
Prospero's has his enemies where he wants them. This is the same kind
of freedom that Caliban crowed about at the end of act 2. But the
only true freedom in all these act endings is the one that the
audience may or may not give the actor of Prospero by applauding his
last line: "As you from crimes would pardoned be/Let your indulgence
set me free."
Much of The Tempest is devoted the pursuit of freedom as power.
At the end of act 2, this kind of freedom comes into vivid contrast
with an entirely different kind. As act 2 closes, Caliban goes
offstage singing that he will no more "fetch in firing / At requiring
. . . . Freedom, high-day! high-day, freedom! freedom, high-day,
freedom!" (2.2.184-187}. The very next scene opens, "Enter
Ferdinand bearing a log," introducing an entirely different attitude
toward fetching firing at requiring. This juxtaposition highlights a
dialog between two senses of freedom that drives the play as a whole.
Lets call them freedom of the soul and freedom of the body.
Before the play starts, before Antonio usurped his dukedom,
Prospero sought freedom of the body from the cares of office and
retired to his chamber to study the "liberal arts" (1.2.73). Again,
the context is Stoic. Seneca opposed the study of "liberal arts,"
because their aim was to make money. The one exception was philoso-
phy, which Prospero obviously hadn't studied.~88 Cicero takes a
very dim view of reluctant administrators like Prospero, declaring
flatly: "to be drawn by study away from active life is contrary to
moral duty."~89 Following this emphasis on doing one's job, James I
warns his son and heir not to seek
for knowledge nakedly, but that your principall ende be, to make
you able thereby to vse your office; . . . not like these vaine
Astrologians, that studie night and day on the course of the
starres, onely that they may, for satisfying their curiositie,
know their course."~90
Prospero's magic, be it black or white, is analogous to Gyges' ring,
but as Plato wrote his whole Republic to prove, Gyges' ring is a
snare and a delusion: absolute power over one's fellow men is not the
route to freedom. Cicero tells the whole story of Gyges in De
Seneca thought that a man who avoided public service had "died
even before he was dead."~92 The ancients and their Renaissance
popularizers agree that rulers have an especially strong obligation to
serve the public. "The citizen who is patriotic, brave, and worthy of
a leading place in the state . . . will dedicate himself unreservedly
to his country, without aiming at influence or power for himself,"
says Cicero.~93 In fact, Seneca agrees, "ruling [is] a service, not
an exercise of royalty."~94 And moreover, "Instead of sacrificing the
state to themselves, [rulers] have sacrificed themselves to the
state."~95 Elyot echoes these sentiments, saying "that auctorite,
beinge well and diligently used, is but a token of superioritie, but
in very dede it is a burden and losse of libertie."~96 On this note
James I begins his advice to his son, reminding him "that being borne
to be a king, ye are rather borne to onus, th[a]n honos."~97
As defined in Stoic discourse, freedom is a state of mind, not of
body. As Ferdinand very significantly says, provided that we are
tuned in to this dialog, he is as happy to be a slave for Miranda's
sake "as bondage e'er of freedom" (3.1.89) If it is the way to win
her, he accepts bondage to labor as eagerly as Prospero, Ariel, and
Caliban seek freedom from it. Love, as defined so beautifully in this
scene, is mutual voluntary servitude, and voluntary servitude is the
only freedom The Tempest offers. When Alonso and Prospero give each
other their children in the denouement, this ancient ritual of gift-
exchange signifies peace between them. There are two ways of
establishing cooperation in society: enslavement (either to a master
or to the law, as in modern democratic societies); and reciprocal
exchange of benefits (gifts or services).
Starting from the Aristotelian premise that man is a social
animal, Cicero finds that the social bond is established by means of a
system of "mutual interchange of kind services; . . . [for] those
between whom they are interchanged are united by the ties of an
enduring intimacy."~98 Hence
we ought to follow Nature as our guide, to contribute to the
general good by an interchange of acts of kindness, by giving and
receiving, and thus by our skill, our industry, and our talents
to cement human society more closely together, man to man.~99
Seneca allegorizes the social cement in the process of answering some
questions about the Three Graces (Gratiae, as in "gratitude,"
"congratulate," "gratuity," "gracias," etc). First, why are there
three of them?
Some would have it appear that there is one for bestowing a
benefit, another for receiving it, and a third for returning it .
. . . Why do the sisters hand in hand dance in a ring which
returns upon itself? For the reason that a benefit passing in
its course from hand to hand returns nevertheless to the giver;
the beauty of the whole is destroyed if the course is anywhere
broken, and it has most beauty if it is continuous and maintains
an uninterrupted succession. In the dance, nevertheless, an
older sister has especial honor, as do those who earn benefits.
Their faces are cheerful, as are ordinarily the faces of those
who bestow or receive benefits. They are young because the
memory of benefits ought not to grow old. They are maidens
because benefits are pure and undefiled and holy in the eyes of
all; and it is fitting that there should be nothing to bind or
restrict them, and so the maidens wear flowing robes, and these,
too, are transparent because benefits desire to be seen.~100
For Elyot the virtue that cements us all together
is called humanitie whiche is a generall name to those vertues in
whome seme to be a mutuall concorde and loue in the nature of
man. And all thoughe there be many of the said vertues, yet be
there thre principall by whome humanitie is chiefly compact;
beneuolence, benificence ["goode tournes"], and liberalitie.
By virtue of this instinct human beings, while still inferior to God,
are superior to beasts.~101
Essentially what happens in The Tempest is that Prospero tries
to gain freedom by maximizing his power--the Gyges ring method--but
eventually, perhaps prompted by Ferdinand and Miranda, he melts into a
generous paradigm. He learns that a cruel master cannot ever have the
joy of a willing servant. That discovery, I believe, induces
Prospero's change of heart, and that is what his epilogue is about:
Prospero (duke/actor), having used magic/stagecraft to coerce his
subjects (audience/islanders/citizens of Milan) into obedience, now
breaks his magic wand/theatrical spell and frees his erstwhile slaves
(audience/islanders/citizens). Essentially, he commits unilateral
disarmament. Of such grand gestures, Seneca says, "To help, to be of
service . . . [to give] benefits, imitates the gods; he who seeks a
return [imitates] money-lenders."~102 The anti-social Duke has come a
A typical actor/audience relationship differs radically from the
duke/citizen relationship that has prevailed up to this point, for it
is a form of the reciprocal benefit system we have been discussing, in
which the actor gives entertainment and the audience returns applause.
It is love, it is mutual satisfaction: gratitude warms both sides of
the footlights. Perhaps, if Prospero now alters radically his tactics
of rule and becomes a magnanimous and just ruler concerned only with
the welfare of the city entrusted to him, the people will be grateful,
and will serve him with all their hearts. The moralists believe so.
Tyranny never works, says Elyot, brandishing potent authorities
For the beneuolente mynde of a gouernour nat onely byndeth the
hartes of the people unto hym with the chayne of loue, more
stronger than any materiall bondes, but also gardeth more
saulfely his persone than any toure or garison. The eloquent
Tulli, saithe in his officis, A liberall harte is cause of
beneuolence, although perchance that powar some tyme lackethe.
Contrary wise he saith, They that desire to be feared, nedes must
they drede them, of whom they be feared. Also Plini the yonger
saith, He that is nat enuironed with charite, in vaine is he
garded with terrour; sens armure with armure is stered. Whiche
is ratified by the mooste graue philosopher Seneke, in his boke
of mercye that he wrate to Nero, where he saith, He is moche
deceiued that thinketh a man to be suer, where nothynge from hym
can be saulfe. For [only] with mutuall assurance suertie is
But the final effect of a good deed cannot be assumed in advance, for
if it is calculated, then it isn't a good deed: it's a deal. It's
entirely up to the citizens of Milan, as it is to an audience at the
end of a play, whether to catcall/kill the actor/duke or applaud/serve
him and "with [their] indulgence [to] set [him] free"--by gratefully
applauding his willing service.
The colonialist approach perceives that Prospero's final gambit
fails. After all Antonio and Sebastian do not burst into tears and
fall on their knees.~104 But read in terms of the relevant field of
discourse, their inaction signifies no failure. In Stoic terms,
Prospero is concerned with getting control over himself, not over his
enemies. Stoicism also puts a different spin on the situation: what
we have here is clemency, not forgiveness, and the point is to deprive
the injuror of any enjoyment from watching the injured one's anger and
chagrin. On this point Elyot says
The best waye to be aduenged is so to contemne Iniurie and
rebuke, and lyue with suche honestie, that the doer shall at the
laste be therof a shamed, or at the leste, lese [lose] the frute
of his malyce, that is to say, shall nat reioyce and haue glorie
of thy hyndraunce or domage [damage].~105
Hall's Characters (1608) focuses on the glory of imperturbability,
rather than on the repentance of the perturber:
The Valiant Man['s] power is limited by his will, and he holds it
the noblest revenge, that he might hurt and doth not.~106
Furthermore, when we reach the end of a Shakespearean comedy things
seldom are settled. There is never any guarantee that the remedies
discovered in the green world will serve when the persons of the play
return to the real world. The poet says goodbye and good luck. He
has shown the audience what they are capable of (both good and evil).
Now they're on their own. Will gratitude for Prospero's new start
overcome the years of his neglect? The sulking characters remain to
keep this question on the table.
But wait: there's still that final note of despair. When
Prospero tells us, in his epilogue that after his return to Milan his
"every third thought will be [his] grave." Can we call this a happy
ending? Their vision still hampered by their frame, the colonialist
critics who pick up on this talk of the grave think not.~107 Again
Stoic discourse sheds a better light on the passage. Cicero said "to
think as a philosopher is to learn to die." Montaigne used this
sentence as the title of a long essay on death.~108 Epictetus
exhorts, "Let death . . . be daily before your eyes . . . and you will
never think of anything mean."~109 Montaigne would have us
combat [death] with a resolute minde. And being to take the
greatest advantage she hath upon us from her, let us take a
cleane contrary way from the common, let us remove her
strangenesse from her, let us converse, frequent, and acquaint
our selves with her, let us have nothing so much in minde as
death, let us at all times and seasons, and in the ugliest manner
that may be, yea with all faces shapen and represent the same
unto our imagination. At the stumbling of a horse, at the fall
of a stone, at the least prick with a pinne, let us presently
ruminate and say with our selves, what if it were death it selfe?
and thereupon let us take heart of grace, and call our wits
together to confront her. . . . The premeditation of death is a
fore-thinking of libertie.~110
Again Montaigne sounds like Seneca, who is always advising that "the
soul must be hardened by long practice, so that it may learn to endure
the sight and the approach of death."~111 Indeed Seneca is
antiquity's expert on death, and one gathers that he conceives of a
man's life as a tale that has no meaning until it's over. For a Duke,
one assumes, dying well would mean dying well-beloved. Furthermore,
since death is one of those common denominators that level out the
distinction between the angry man and his victim, thinking on death
will ease Prospero's fury.~112 "Nothing will give you so much help
toward moderation as the frequent thought that life is short and
uncertain here below; whatever you are doing, have regard to
death."~113 Finally, one must come to terms with death in order to
achieve that precious freedom of the soul, because fear of death is
certainly the ultimate slavery. "To think on death," counsels Seneca,
is to "think on freedom. He who has learned to die has unlearned
slavery; he is above any external power, or, at any rate, he is beyond
These sentiments and those I have already quoted, I argue, tether
The Tempest to the discursive field of early modern ethical
discourse, to which the play reports back, in terms defined by that
field, a vivid illustration of what it means to be free.
The colonialist critics have laid to rest forever the idealist
interpretation of Prospero, and definitively located the mythos of
colonialism in his treatment of Caliban. But it appears that we do
find, upon extending Professor Porter's critique of new historicism to
The Tempest, that the oversights she describes in the work of
Greenblatt and Mullaney do also occur in new historicist work on The
Tempest, that the play is too large to look at through the knothole
of colonialist discourse. In so doing these critics unconsciously
silence other kinds of discourse that the play could clearly hear, and
overlooks the rhetorical strategy by which the play talks back to the
"horizonless field." Certainly The Tempest hears and talks about
many other fields of discourse: Arthurian legend, Jungian archetypes,
Freudian psychoses, regeneration rituals, vegetation cults, Plato's
three parts of the soul, good angels/bad angels, chess, Italy, drama
theory, Shakespeare's life, magic, the ethics of magic, and who knows
what else? And discourse of colonialism does of course participate.
But if we open the window far enough to include Stoicism, Prospero's
conquistadorial activities become a product of his anger, and his
colonizing becomes a category of tyranny, which by definition governs
by enslavement. Since both anger and tyranny are bad, and their
consequences are bad, the play deplores colonization. But The
Tempest's relation to colonialism is more complex than the view from
the colonialist critics' window.
1. Carolyn Porter, "Are We Being Historical Yet?" South Atlantic Quarterly
87 (1988): 743-86, esp. 750, 782.
2. In "Discourse and the Individual: The Case of Colonialism in The Tem-
pest", Meredith Anne Skura tests the claims of colonialist critics against an
exhaustive reconstitution of contemporary English discourse on the new
world. She finds that records of British colonization were not available to
Shakespeare when he wrote The Tempest, at which time colonialist discourse
in England was still in its romantic phase. She also contributes a most useful
comprehensive survey of extant literature on The Tempest. (Shakespeare
Quarterly 40 [Spring 1989], 42-69.) However, the ugly practices of other
nations had been published abroad long before the writing of The Tempest,
and Montaigne protests against them in the very essay "Of Canniballes" to
which Shakespeare clearly refers in Gonzalo's speech at 2.1.143-160. (The
essays of Michael lord of Montaigne, trans. John Florio, World's classics edn.
[London: Frowde, 1904], 1: ch. 30.)
3. Similar doubts about Foucaldian methods have recently been voiced in other
quarters. See essays in The New Historicism, ed. H. Aram Veeser (New York:
Routledge, 1989) by Frank Lentricchia: "Foucault's Legacy: a New Historicism?"
231-242; by Gerald Graff: "Co-Optation," 168-181, esp. 172; and by Brook Thomas:
"New Historicism and Other Old-Fashioned Topics," 182-203, esp. 202.
4. Porter, 771.
5. Porter, 767.
7. Greenblatt, quoted in Porter, 747.
8. "Prospero in Africa: The Tempest as Colonialist Text and Pretext," in
Shakespeare Reproduced: The Text in History and Ideology, ed. Jean E.
Howard and Marion F. O'Connor (New York & London: Methuen, 1987), 95-115.
9. "'Treason doth never Prosper': The Tempest and the Discourse of
Treason," Shakespeare Quarterly 41(1990): 1-28.
10. "Cracking the Code of The Tempest," Shakespeare: Contemporary Critical
Approaches, ed. Harry Garvin (Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press,
11. "'This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine': The Tempest and the Discourse
of Colonialism," Political Shakespeare: New Essays in Cultural Materialism,
ed. Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield (Manchester: Manchester University
Press, 1985), 48-71.
12. Brown, 46.
13. Francis Barker and Peter Hulme, "Nymphs and Reapers Heavily Vanish: The
Discursive Con-texts of The Tempest," Alternative Shakespeare, ed. John
Drakakis (London: Methuen, 1985).
14. Barker and Hulme, 195.
15. Stephen Orgel, "Introduction," The Tempest, The Oxford Shakespeare
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), 1-87.
16. Eric Cheyfetz, The Poetics of Imperialism: Translation and Colonization
from The Tempest to Tarzan (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).
17. Stephen Greenblatt, "Martial Law in the Land of Cocaigne," Shakespearean
Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), 129-98.
18. They have been anticipated by at least two critics of the play who reject
the "authorized version" without the aid of theory. As early as 1906 Lytton
Strachey objected to the received opinion that Prospero portrays a "spirit
of wise benevolence," perceiving instead
an unpleasantly crusty personage, in whom a twelve years' monopoly of
the conversation had developed an inordinate propensity for talking.
These may have been the sentiments of Ariel, safe at the Bermoothes;
but to state them is to risk at least ten years in the knotty entrails
of an oak, and it is sufficient to point out that if Prospero is wise, he
is also self-opinionated and sour, that his gravity is often another
name for pedantic severity, and that there is no character in the play
to whom, during some part of it, he is not studiously disagreeable.
(Books and Characters, English and French [New York: Harcourt Brace,
Sixty-two years later John P. Cutts read Prospero as another Faustus,
manipulating people for his own enjoyment, an almost certain candidate for
damnation whose repentance likewise comes too late. (Rich and Strange: A
Study of Shakespeare's Last Plays [Pullman: Washington State University
19. Barker and Hulme, 197.
20. Breight, 10.
21. Breight, 10, 18; Brown, 53; Barker and Hulme, 198; Cheyfetz, 27, 73;
Greenblatt, 156; Leininger, 122; Orgel, 4, 13.
22. All citations of Shakespeare's plays are taken from the Riverside Shake-
speare, edited by G. Blakemore Evans, 1974.
23. Brown, 59-60; Cheyfetz, p.76; Orgel, 8, 14, 15-6, 21, 52; Breight, 10, 14;
Greenblatt, 46, 142-3, 156, 160.
24. Orgel, 36, 47, 52; Brown, 59; Greenblatt, 147, 154; Breight, 10, 17, 23.
25. Cartelli, 105; Barker, 195, 198-200, 202; Brown, 65; Cheyfetz, 72, 158;
Greenblatt, 157; Orgel, 24, 25ff, 36, 37.
26. Brown, 109.
27. Cartelli, 106, 107, 110; Brown, 61-2, 58; Breight, 10; Barker and Hulme, 199;
Cheyfetz, 161; Leininger, 125; Orgel, 41, 49.
28. Barker and Hulme, 196.
29. Breight, 24; Brown, 60.
30. Brown, 60; Barker and Hulme, 199; Greenblatt, 160; Orgel, 15, 22; Cheyfetz,
31. Barker and Hulme, 199; Cartelli, 106-7; Greenblatt, 157; Orgel, 23, 28.
32. Breight, 11; Greenblatt, 143, 144; Orgel, 28-9.
33. Breight, 18; Greenblatt, 143.
34. Breight, 11; Brown, 196; Barker and Hulme, 202; Cheyfetz, 77; Greenblatt, 144;
35. Brown, 67.
37. Orgel, 54.
38. Cartelli, 116; Leininger, 127-30.
39. Barker and Hulme, 202.
40. The critical malpractice of "refuting the ending" was first identified by
Richard Levin in New Readings vs. Old Plays (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1979). Edward Pechter finds the practice still prevalent in his "New
Historicism and Its Discontents," PMLA 102 (1987): 292-303, esp. 299.
41. The advocates of a benevolent magus also ignored Prospero's change of
heart, because it contradicted their hypothesis as well. In their interpre-
tations D'Orsay Pearson ("'Unless I Be Reliev'd by Prayer': The Tempest in
Perspective," Shakespeare Studies 7 , 253-82, esp. 273) and Joseph
Summers ("The Anger of Prospero," Dreams of Love and Power: On Shake-
speare's Plays [Oxford: Clarendon, 1984]) restore the climax, Pearson having
Prospero recover from the sin of magic, and Summers, relying on intra-textual
evidence, having him recover from a seizure of anger, thus anticipating what
42. Eleanor Prosser, "Shakespeare, Montaigne, and the Rarer Action,"
Shakespeare Studies 1 (1965): 261-64.
43. Montaigne, 2:11.
44. Thomas Elyot, The Governour, Everyman edn. (London: Dent, 1907), 235.
45. James I, "Basilikon Doron," Political Works of James I, ed. C. E. McIlwain
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1918), 3-52, esp. 41.
46. Joseph Hall, "Characters of Virtues and Vices," Works, vol. vi, ed. Philip
Wynter (New York: AMS Press, 1969), 89-125, esp. 97.
47. Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Officiis, trans. Walter Miller, Loeb edn.
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968), 89.
48. Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Moral Essays, trans. John W. Basore, Loeb edn.
(London: W. Heinemann, 1928-1935), 1:268-9.
49. In their glosses on the line both Frank Kermode (Arden edn. [London:
Methuen, 1958]) and Stephen Orgel (Oxford edn. [Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1987]) feel the need to explain (unconvincingly) why "vengeance" (5.1.28)
is not balanced by "forgiveness" or "pardon." See also Prosser, 262.
50. Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto (Chicago: Regnery, 1954), 12-13.
51. Peter Laslett, The World We Have Lost (New York: Scribner, 1965), 17.
52. Max Weber, Essays in Sociology, ed. Hans Gerth and C. Wright Mills (New
York: Oxford University Press, 1946), 329.
53. Jurgen Habermas, Toward a Rational Society: Student Protest, Science,
and Politics (Boston: Beacon Press, 1970), 91-93.
54. Sven Longstreth, Frank Steinmo, and Kathleen Thelen, Structuring
Politics: Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Analysis (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1992)
55. Karl Polan]yi, The Great Transformation  (Boston: Beacon Press,
56. Marcel Mauss, The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic
Societies , trans. Ian Cunnison (New York: Norton, 1954).
57. Marshall Sahlins, Stone Age Economics (Chicago and New York: Aldine-
Atherton, 1972), 2-14
58. Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property (New
York: Vintage Books, 1979).
59. Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Moral Epistles, trans. Richard M. Gummere, Loeb
edn. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1917-25), 2:423-4.
60. Ruth Kelso, The Doctrine of the English Gentleman in the Sixteenth
Century (Gloucester, Mass: Peter Smith, 1964); Doctrine for the lady of the
Renaissance (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1956).
61. Kelso, Lady, 322.
62. Paul Oskar Kristeller, Renaissance Thought and Its Sources, ed. Michael
Mooney (New York: Columbia University Press, 1979), 22.
63. Kristeller, 25, 36-7, 128.
64. William Kerrigan and Gordon Braden, The Idea of the Renaissance
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989).
65. Gordon Braden, Renaissance Tragedy and the Senecan Tradition: Anger's
Privilege (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985).
66. For a random example consider Marvin Vawter, "'Division 'tween Our Souls.':
Shakespeare's Stoic Brutus," Shakespeare Studies (Columbia: University of
South Carolina Press, 1974), 173-195, esp. 173-79. Or consider William R.
Elton's magnum opus, King Lear and the Gods (San Marino, Calif.: Huntington
Library, 1966), a book heavily documented by primary sources, in which Stoicism
stands for little else than hardness of heart. Though Elton calls upon Cicero
many times, he pays no attention to De Officiis, his most important (and most
67. Lady, 311).
68. Cicero, xvii.
69. Elyot, 47-8.
70. Henry Peacham, The Complete Gentleman, The Truth of Our Times, and The
Art of Living in London , ed. Virgil B. Heltzel (Ithaca: Cornell University
Press, 1962), 29.
71. T. S. Eliot "Shakespeare and the Stoicism of Seneca," Selected Essays
(New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1950), 107-120, esp. 52.
72. Montaigne, 1:161.
73. Seneca, Essays, 1:xv.
74. Ann Jennalie Cook, The privileged playgoers of Shakespeare's London,
1576-1642 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1981).
75. Seneca, "De Ira," Essays, 1:107-355.
76. Seneca, Essays, 1:107.
77. Cf. Breight, 20-1, 24-6.
78. Cf. Matthew M. Wikander, "'The Duke My Father's Wrack': The Innocence of the
Restoration Tempest," Shakespeare Survey, ed. Stanley Wells (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1991), 91-98, esp. 91, 93, 95, 97.
79. Seneca, Essays, 1:263.
80. Seneca, Essays, 1:325.
81. Seneca, Essays, 1:143.
82. Elyot, 202.
83. Seneca, Essays, 1:323.
84. The Latin word is "caligo," one meaning of which, according to the Oxford
Latin Dictionary is "moral and intellectual darkness."
85. Seneca, Essays, 1:185.
86. Lear's anger similarly subsides when he learns "to feel what wretches feel"
(3.4.34) and recognizes in Poor Tom a fellow human being.
87. Brown, 68; Cartelli, 111; Greenblatt, 157; Orgel, 23; Leininger, 127.
88. Seneca, Epistles, 2:349.
89. Cicero, 6.
90. James I, 38-39.
91. Cicero, 305.
92. Seneca, Epistles, 3:5.
93. Cicero, 89.
94. Seneca, Epistles, 2:399.
95. Seneca, Epistles, 3:271.
96. Elyot, 140.
97. James I, 3.
98. Cicero, 59.
99. Cicero, 25.
100. Seneca, Essays, 3:13.
101. Elyot, 147.
102. Seneca, Essays, 3:155.
103. Elyot, 155.
104. Greenblatt, 46; Breight, 13; Orgel, 51, 52, 55; Cheyfetz, 158.
105. Elyot, 236.
106. Hall, 96.
107. Breight, 20; Barker, 67; Brown, 68; Cheyfetz, 76; Orgel, 29.
108. Montaigne, 1: ch. xix.
109. Epictetus, Discourses of Epictetus with the Encheiridion and Frag-
ments, trans. George Long (London: George Bell, 1877), 387.
110. Montaigne, 1:80-1.
111. Seneca, Epistles, 2:251.
112. cf. Seneca, Essays, 1:353.
113. Seneca, Epistles, 3:319.
114. Seneca, Epistles, 1:191. Montaigne thinks of the day of death as the only
day in our lives when "whatever the pot containeth must be shown." (1:71)