The Tempest and its’ spurious link to “The Voyage of the Sea Venture” is the most quoted by academic Stratfordians to refute the Oxfordian assertions that the Earl of Oxford, who died in 1604 wrote Shakespeare’s poetry and plays. This supposed or blatantly flawed academic theory was confirmed by E. K. Chambers who theorised that the play was inspired and written describing the wreck of the Sea Venture, captained by Sir George Somers on its’ way to Virginia on 25th July 1609. It was based on a manuscript report (printed in 1625) written by William Strachey to the London Council of Virginia in 1610. Charlton Ogburn suggests that the jobbing actor, William Shagspere was not even in London at that time and could not have had access to the letter let alone used it as a source for his play. Had William Shakespeare required some actual narrative report for the Tempest he might easily have turned to Henry May’s report of a shipwreck in the Bermudas in 1593 in the Edward Bonaventure owned by Edward de Vere. However, the real problem or crux of this narrative dilemma is the play is actually set just off the coast of Tunisia not in the West Indies, indeed the name of the character of Calypso is derived from an island among the Balearics off the coast of Spain. The Tempest is quite likely the last play the Earl of Oxford would have written and could have even been uncompleted on his death. In this newly discovered ancient Eden we can sow the seeds of a New Kingdom of Virginia. The idea of establishing an “English Utopia” in a land already populated by supposedly “ignorant natives” obsessed the free thinkers of England since the time of John (Giovanni) Cabot who travelled to North America on his second voyage in 1497 and lived in Henry VIIIth’s reign. As many people know the scholar, essayist and lawyer, Sir Thomas More (1477-1535) was beheaded for treason when he refused to acknowledge the King’s Act of Succession which would deny any illegitimate child of the presiding monarch accession to the English throne after their death. This act did not prevent Elizabeth Tudor from accession much to the chagrin of her stepdaughter Mary Stuart, later Queen of Scots. Sir Thomas More wrote his own Utopia in 1516 and a History of King Richard III which were no doubt sources for other Shakespeare history plays. Incidentally, the play Sir Thomas More (a version of which Christopher Marlowe wrote in collaboration with William Shakespeare) was first produced in 1529 and performed by Cardinal Wolsley’s Men. Furthermore, in 1902 Edward Everett Hale theorised that the dramatic location described by Shakespeare bears no resemblance whatsoever to a “Tropical or Mediterranean Island”, since there are no palm trees or hint of tropical vegetation in the scenes or locations of The Tempest.
Instead, and a quite contradictory assertion by Hale states that the play was probably inspired by the landing of Bartholomew Gosnold on the shores of Cuttyhunk, (Elizabeth Islands) south of Falmouth, Virginia (USA) in 1602. His expedition was financed and commissioned by Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton (Oxford’s illegitimate son) so it maybe more likely that the Earl of Oxford not Will Shakspere who had met and conversed with these marine adventurers on their return.
Furthermore, it seems quite likely that the dedication in the Sonnets was actually addressed to “The Well-wishing Adventurer in setting forth” could be referring to that particular voyage even though the Sonnets were not published until 1609, five years after the death of Edward de Vere. Numerous parallels suggest that Shakespeare’s description “How lush and lusty the grass looks, how green”, while Gosnold writes “meadows very large and full of green grass” and “Stearnes, geese, and divers other birds which did breed upon the cliffs” which is similar in thread to Caliban’s description: “I’ll get thee young sea-mews [scamels] from the rock”. Other parallels include Gosnold’s report of “herbs and roots and ground nuts…mussel shells” while Ferdinand talks of: “Thy food shall be fresh brook mussels,-roots and herbs” and Caliban also suggests “Dig thee pig nuts, with my long nails”. Of the trees mentioned there are oak, pine and cedar, nothing remotely tropical. William Shagspere of Stratford-upon-Avon on the other hand had never even been near a coastline let alone set forth in a ship or boat to anywhere. However, the question remains who else might have completed the remainder of the play in the Earl’s absence. Several theories have been presented for example either Ben Jonson , Sir Francis Bacon or the Earl of Derby might have been responsible since the adventurer William Strachey, who wrote the letter, was a good friend of both men who wrote plays and worked in the theatre. Given this set of circumstances references to the wreck of the Sea Venture must have been deliberate attempts by “anonymous agents” to erase any connection with Shakespeare’s plays to the Earl of Oxford. Karl Elze states that “all external arguments and indications are in favour of the year 1604” because Ben Jonson paraphrases and satirises the play in Volpone in 1605. Furthermore, there are similarities to another play (Die Schöne Sidea) by Jacob Ayrer of Nuremburg who died in 1605. Even so despite his own foreknowledge of this fact, E. K. Chambers fails to admit any connection to that work as it would undermine the Stratfordian’s false hypothesis to a much later date. To sow doubt with some carefully chosen anomaly, ambiguity or omission is the sublime art of the propagandist. A. S. Cairncross, along with Charlton Ogburn appears to support the modern view that conventional academics have for too long overestimated by some ten years the dating of Shakespeare’s plays and poetry.
The Enchanted Isle
The play begins aboard a ship carrying Alonso, King of Naples, his son Ferdinand, his brother Sebastian, old Gonzalo and Antonio the usurping Duke of Milan. They are suddenly caught up in a terrific storm, near an island and are forced to abandon ship. We soon discover that the storm has been deliberately conjured up by the Magus Prospero, who was deposed of his Dukedom in Milan by Antonio. Prospero relates to his daughter Miranda how 12 years previously they had been set adrift in a boat, by Gonzalo, a superintendent, with a few provisions, some magical texts and left to fend for themselves, they arrived on the island and remained ever since. Prospero charms his daughter into a deep sleep and then summons Ariel (his spirit-guide) for news of the ship’s whereabouts. Ariel tells him that the ship is in safe harbour, the passengers, captain and crew safe but dispersed into different parts of the island. Ariel became a servant of Prospero when he saved him from the wicked witch Sycorax, and he now begs to be free of any further obligation. Prospero refuses because he still needs his services, he requires that he bring Ferdinand, the Prince of Naples to him. Prospero then awakens Miranda and they call upon the slave Caliban, the deformed mutant son of Sycorax, now dead. Caliban curses Prospero as a usurper, mutters incantations and poetic allusions to his tyranny. Ferdinand appears somewhat amazed to be alive after such a battering storm and on seeing Miranda falls hopelessly in love with her. Although secretly in his heart Prospero approves of the match he adopts a sceptical role, knowing that Miranda needs a companion and that she is enamoured of the Prince. In act II Alonso, Ferdinand, his brother Sebastian, and old Gonzalo discuss their escape from drowning and presume that Ferdinand has died. Then Ariel makes all except Sebastian and Antonio fall asleep. Antonio then suggests to Sebastian that he kill his brother Alonso and take his title, while he disposes of Gonzalo. As they draw their swords Ariel suddenly appears and awakens Gonzalo and the others and the assassins explain that they thought there were wild beasts in their camp. While bringing firewood for Prospero, Caliban encounters another survivor, Trinculo, a jester who hides inside his cloak. When another survivor, Stefano comes upon them he thinks they are a four-legged monster. He gives them food and drink and Caliban swears allegiance to Stefano, thinking him a god, and saying he will no longer work for Prospero. In act III Ferdinand now, replacing Caliban carries for Prospero and declares his undying love for Miranda. Stefano, Trinculo and Caliban meanwhile plot to kill Prospero, but are bewildered by Ariel’s invisible interventions. Prospero appears before Sebastian and Antonio, who still resolved at the next opportunity to kill Alonso and Gonzalo, are invited to a banquet, conjured by the magician. Ariel appears and charges them of crimes against Prospero who had been disposed of earlier. Stricken by guilt Alonso rushes off to drown himself, followed by Sebastian and Antonio. However, the faithful Gonzalo instructs some men to follow them and prevent them from coming to harm.
In act IV we see a masque being performed by elemental spirits in celebration of love and marriage. This is interrupted by Prospero’s recollection of Caliban’s betrayal. Ariel then appears to inform him that he has led Caliban and his drunken crew into a bog, and then hangs some gaudy garments on a line outside Prospero’s cave. Emerging from the filthy bog, Caliban and his friends attempt to steal these garments but are besieged by fairy spirits and hobgoblins. Seeing his enemies dispersed, Prospero tells Ariel that he will grant his freedom soon. Prospero then awaits the conclusion of his scheme in act V, when Ariel then informs him that the King of Naples, together with his men are imprisoned in a lime grove. Prospero’s heart softens towards them and they are then released and led into a “magical circle”. Prospero then comforts Alonso with the knowledge that Ferdinand is still alive and courting his daughter. The captain then arrives to say that the ship has been miraculously restored and awaits them in the harbour. Caliban, Stefano and Trinculo arrive with the former chiding himself for his desertion of Prospero. The Royal party then depart back to Italy and Prospero releases Ariel from his duties.
|The links to my publications “Shakespeare’s Qaballah”, a Companion to Shakespeare Studies and my anthology of poetry, “Parthenogenesis” are as follows:|
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