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A moral idea of language in Shakespeare’s The Tempest

Troupp, Lotte (1992)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

Against the background of the creationist world picture and biblical beliefs about language - shared by Shakespeare and his audience this thesis elicits the idea of language which Shakespeare deliberately presents in The Tempest. The theme of language is attached to Shakespeare's search for a definition of man in this 'mankind* play. A triple language experiment is plotted, given that the concept of language in the Renaissance includes non-verbal communication and that language was believed to mirror the speaker's mind. The first experiment isolates the unique human ingredient, defined by its absence at the demarcation lines of the human: both the spirit Ariel and the demi-devil Caliban lack an identification with the feelings of others. Thus they lack 'the very virtue of compassion' which leads to caritas. Charity is the repair of Babel's confusion of tongues through pride, and is the content of the disciples' pentecostal language, the true communicative language of individuals and societies. A second experiment contrasts morally the speech of two children grown up together in isolation in the controlled island environment, enabling a distinction to be made between good and bad natures and the speech that reveals them. This leads into a linguistic virtue and vice characterization of all the dramatis personae. Thirdly the play is metadramatic, defining itself as an agent of the 'virtue-causing delightfulness' claimed for literature by Sidney.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
School/Faculty:Faculties (to 1997) > Faculty of Arts
Department:School of English
Subjects:PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
PR English literature
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:4463
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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