12 April 2013
Congee, completed King Lear and got started on Macbeth. I don’t like Macbeth, I must admit: it’s too high school-ey and the text is corrupt beyond the Hecate passages which we know are Middleton; modern scholars say that much of the original text is lost.
However, Middleton must have had, in Shakespeare’s opinion, “a good fist” for playwriting since he was a major co-author when Shakespeare in his later career was too lazy, perhaps too ill (some modern scholars say that Shakespeare may have had a rare cancer of the tear ducts; this would make sense for the guy must have cried many bitter tears over Hathaway and Hamnet).
I very much like the way, in the 1608 version, Albany, “the milk livered man” according to Goneril, takes charge at the end. Feminists think that the don’t need sub-“Alpha” males (who are “alpha” through their own proclamation) and share, in the case of feminists identified with the corporation, the alpha view of the other ranks: non-Alpha males are considered in our culture to be unworthy geeks.
But Albany, unlike Henry VI who merely tries, does a good job in Act V apart from failing to rescue Lear and Cordelia. S clearly felt that the ideal ruler would be humble and if possible non-violent.
Prospero in the Tempest is often cited as a tyrant; his critics refuse to credit him for preferring “closeness and study” to ruling but I find him close to an ideal model of kingship, even fatherhood, for stocking his boat, when fleeing his brother, with books.
Fathers who read make IMHO good fathers. Lincoln is photographed tenderly sharing books with his youngest son. Fathers who read often delight in buying and sharing books, especially their favorites from their own childhood.
In light of this it disturbs me that Prospero is dismissed so readily as less interesting than Miranda or Caliban by feminist-influenced critics. You have only to watch a gender-bender version of the play (such as Helen Mirren’s in which she plays “Prospera” which scans exactly the same as “Prospero”, thus does no violence to the text) to find Prospera an interesting character.