temptopia Theme of Utopianism in The Tempest

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Theme of Utopianism in The Tempest

One traditional theme of The Tempest is Utopianism. Whether it be of physical significance, as Walter Cohen suggests in his essay "Shakespeare and Calderon in an Age of Transition," or of literary significance, as Judith Boss suggests in her essay "The Golden Age, Cockaigne, and Utopia in the The Faerie Queene and The Tempest," it is an important piece of literature in contribution to Utopianism. Judith Boss does an excellent job in breaking down Utopianism within The Tempest into three different categories, the Golden Age, Cockaigne, and Utopia. All three are implemented, or can be derived from The Tempest. In Walter Cohen’s essay, he suggests that Shakespeare wrote The Tempest by no coincidence near the end of his career and life because it was an argument, or representation, of what England’s foreign policy was. It also predetermined in a way where England was headed politically.

Judith Boss does an exceptional critique of The Tempest in identifying Utopianism. She presents three classic forms of Utopianism and illustrates how they are represented in the play. Gonzalo’s speech can be seen as a representation of Montaign’s essay "Of the Caniballes." Gonzalo’s human nature and person can be viewed as a "normal man" in Cockaigne theory. And, Prospero’s actions and status on the island can be considered as a sort of political, philosophical Utopia.

The Golden Age

The whole idea of a Golden Age being possible is something that traces back in literary history through many plays, essays and other treatises carrying this theme. It became rather accelerated by the Renaissance writers who chose to implement it into their writings. The possibility of a Golden Age is taken with th...

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...for this. She has been raised on the somewhat "utopian" island most of her conscious life. Even though I think that Shakespeare was trying to disprove a Utopia he leaves Miranda to represents man’s last hope and possibility for a utopia.

Works Cited and Consulted

Boss, Judith E. "The Golden Age, Cockaigne, and Utopia in The Faerie Queene and The Temepest." Georgia Review 26 (1972) 145-55.

Cohen, Walter. "Shakespeare and Calderon in an Age of Transition." Genre 15 (1983), 123-37.

Hill, Christopher. The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revolution. London: Temple Smith, 1972.

Maus, Katherine Eisaman. "Arcadia Lost: Politics and Revision in the Restoration Tempest." Renaissance Drama 13 (1982): 189-209.

Wolf, A. A History of Science, Technology and Philosophy in the 16th and 17th Centuries. Vol. 2. New York: Harper, 1959.
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