A moral idea of language in Shakespeare’s The Tempest

Troupp, Lotte (1992). A moral idea of language in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

PDF - Accepted Version

Download (3MB)


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: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Faculties (to 1997) > Faculty of Arts
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/4463


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year