Awe of Nature

Thinking of nature, I automatically connect it to my childhood. Although I am a true city girl, I am a country girl at heart (pony and all). Growing up in the country of Frankfort, life as a child greatly reflected the themes of pastoral literature. After spending majority of my younger, only child days running through fields and developing a love for making wishes on stars and dandelions, I became fascinated with my surroundings. Life did seem much more simple at the time, most likely due to how young I was, but at the same time there was more of a carefree nature in the people living outside of the city. Most of them have been there all there lives and farming is just a way of life. No matter how many days I spent outside, the beauty of nature never failed to truly amaze me. Whether it be the changing of seasons or the even just a random butterfly, nature is in fact awe inspiring.

That is why when choosing a topic for our first essay, I was immediately drawn to the question which focuses on the pastoral and wonder. The two characters which thus far idealize this view of wonder being Miranda and Gonzalo. Both characters are rather naive and also emphasize the little things. Miranda even has the most famous few lines from The Tempest (“O brave new world…”) which at the same time expresses her sense of wonder in nature. For Gonzalo, he too has this incredible awe for the smaller things in life. For example, her is a few lines of dialogue encompassing those exact sentiments:

Gonzalo: How lush and lusty the grass looks! How green!

Antonio: The ground is indeed tawny.

Sebastian: With an eye of green in’t.

Antonio: He misses not much.

Sebastian: No, he doth but mistake the truth totally.

Gonzalo is known for his naive nature and is made out to be the butt of jokes. When he looks at the grass, he sees lush green blades, but the the others see brown, wilty grass. Whether it is simply perception or a sense of awe in nature, Gonzalo appreciates the environment more than his fellow companions. This sense of astonishment and over excitement over nature is what I would like to focus on. Moments in the text which are exaggerated, but are there for a deeper message. Shakespeare is often questioned as to why he reverted to pastoral literature and I feel that there is a connection between returning to the simple and yet amazing concept of nature that appealed to Shakespeare. I would like to focus on the awe of nature and also why Shakespeare would use it as such a large theme in his last work. I tried for a long time to find articles on EBSCOhost, but was unsuccessful. It has been kind of difficult to find scholarly sources. (Let me know if you stumble upon any relevant articles!)

I also added this clip from a 2010 adaptation of The Tempest, which looks pretty good actually. Interestingly enough, the setting appears quite dark and barren however. I believe that they are going for a more theatrical feel, but I do not know how well that translates to the texts obvious focus on the pastoral. Check it out.

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4 thoughts on “Awe of Nature

  1. Wow, this is the first time I have seen the trailer for this version of The Tempest. Looks awesome! Although, I am wondering if it matters that the figure of prospero is played by a woman. Does this change the interpretation of the play at all? And Russel Brand might be the quintessential Trinculo.

    If you are interested in the concept of wonder in The Tempest, I would consider the scholarship of Stephen Greenblatt, particularly his book _Marvelous Possessions_ which is in our library. His writing is a good starting point.

  2. I think this is a neat theme to explore. I agree that Miranda is a good character to focus on, her naiveness really captures the theme of wonder and awe. I also had some trouble finding an article to use, but hopefully something will turn up!

  3. I too have never seen the trailer for this version of The Tempest and it looks really good! I am usually not interested in these types of movies but after reading the play and understanding the connection that the story has with pastoral nature, I am more intrigued by the movies setting. I really like your topic of pastoral and wonder. The two characters you have chosen to use as evidence of this concept are great examples of exemplifying the simple things in nature. I also like how you have a personal connection to your topic and can relate with the characters. You have a great start, good luck!

  4. The awe-inspiring nature of, uh, nature, is a prevalent theme in the text. Not only are naive Miranda and good old Gonzolo taken by the beauty and wonder of their surroundings, other characters are taken by them as well – particularly Ferdinand and Caliban. Ferdinand seems to have been bit by the ‘love at first sight bug’ when he catches a glimpse of Miranda, whose naivety and feminine beauty could be considered analogs for the beautiful virgin landscape. Caliban seems particularly taken with Stephano, whom he treats as a deity, and is very wowed by him and his magical alcohol.

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