Prospero's Books

Art and Nature in The Tempest and Prospero's Books

The direful spectacle of the wreck, which touched

The very virtue of compassion in thee,

I have with such provision in mine art

So safely ordered that there is no soul-

No, not so much perdition as an hair

Betid to any creature in the vessel

Which thou heard'st cry, which thou saw'st sink. (1531)

In William Shakespeare's The Tempest, the character of Prospero utilizes his magic art to create a storm and formulate feelings of compassion in his daughter Miranda. Similarly, Shakespeare uses the theater to stir feelings in his audience, while using art to control each character and their situation. Using the power of theatrical art, Shakespeare attempts to recreate and replace nature in this play. In Prospero's Books, Peter Greenaway examines the play's representation of the relationship between art and nature from a cinematic perspective. In his film, he elaborates the way The Tempest questions the priority of art over nature by incorporating artful techniques and ideas with natural themes.

The Tempest opens with Prospero's magical creation of a dangerous storm. In this scene, Shakespeare stresses the power that theater, as a form of art, has to replace nature. He does this through a storm reproduction and...

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