Shakespearean Negotiations


Steven Greenblatt


Chapter Five




Martial Law in the Land of Cockaigne


I want to begin this chapter with a sermon that Hugh Latimer, the great Protestant divine martyred during the reign of Mary Tudor, delivered before the Lady Catharine Bertie, duchess of Suffolk, in 1552. In the course of expounding his text, the Lord's Prayer, Latimer tells of something that happened many years before in Cambridge. He had gone with Thomas Bilney-the man who converted Latimer and who was himself martyred in the later years of Henry VIII's rule-to the town prison to urge the condemned to acknowledge their faults and to bear patiently their punishments. Among the prisoners was a pregnant woman who had been convicted of murdering one of her children. The woman claimed that the child had been sick for a year and had died of natural causes. Her husband being away, she alone witnessed the death. She went, she said, to her neighbors and friends to seek their help to prepare the child for burial, but it was harvest time and no one was at home. Therefore alone, "in an heaviness and trouble of spirit," she made the necessary preparations and buried the dead. But when her husband returned home, he-who "loved her not; and therefore ... sought means to make her out of the way"-accused her of murdering the child.! The accusation was believed by the Cambridge jury, and the woman was sentenced to be executed, the execution being delayed only until such time as she delivered her baby.


When Latimer spoke with her in prison, the woman steadfastly maintained her innocence, and after "earnest inquisition" he came to believe her story. Immediately thereafter it chanced that he was called to Windsor to preach before Henry VIII. After the sermon the king graciously strolled with the minister in a gallery. Latimer knelt, told the woman's story, begged the king for a royal pardon on her behalf, and received it. He returned to Cambridge, pardon in hand, but he kept it hidden, exhorting the woman to confess the truth. She held fast to her professions of innocence.


In due time the woman had her baby, and Latimer consented to be its godfather. The moment had thus come for the woman's execution, and she was in an agony of apprehension. But she was fearful, Latimer found, not because she was about to die but because she would die without being "churched"-that is, without the Catholic rite of purification based on the Jewish rituals traditionally held after childbirth (or menstruation) to cleanse the woman of the stain associated with any blood or discharge. "For she thought," writes Latimer, "that she should have been damned, if she should suffer without purification."


Latimer and Bilney then set about to disabuse her of this doctrinal error. They explained that the law of purification "was made unto the Jews, and not unto us; and that women lying in child-bed be not unclean before God." Significantly, Latimer opposed not the ritual of purification but only the belief that such a ritual cleanses women of sin, for women, he argues, "be as well in the favour of God before they be purified as after." Purification is not a theological but rather "a civil and politic law, made for natural honesty sake; signifying, that a woman before the time of her purification, that is to say, as long as she is a green woman, is not meet to do such acts as other women, nor to have company with her husband: for it is against natural honesty, and against the commonwealth." Only when the poor prisoner accepted this doctrinal point and agreed that she could go to her death unchurched and still receive salvation did Latimer produce the royal pardon and let her go.


I want to suggest that this little story reveals characteristic Renaissance beliefs and practices, and I propose to begin by noting some aspects of the gender relations it sketches.


First, we encounter the story as an allegorically charged but "real-life" tale about a woman, a tale that Latimer relates in a sermon originally delivered before another woman. As such, perhaps it subtly suggests, in the presence of a social superior, Latimer's moral superiority and power and so reestablishes male dominance in a moment of apparent inferiority. 2


Second, the story could perhaps have been told about a male prisoner in the grip of a comparable "superstition"-let us imagine, for example, that he feared damnation if he did not have auricular confession and absolution prior to execution-but the prisoner's being female manifestly enhances its special symbolic charge. The woman's body after childbirth is polluted in "nature" and in the commonwealth but not in the eyes of God: hence she can exemplify directly and in the flesh the crucial theological distinction between, on the one hand, the domain of law and nature and, on the other, the order of grace and salvation. The distinction applies to all of humanity, but the male body passes through no fully comparable moments of pollution. 3


Third, the particular suitability of the woman's body for this theological allegory rests on an implied Pauline syllogism, conveniently reinforced by Latimer's saving of the woman: the woman is to the man as the man is to God. And this syllogism intersects with other implied analogical relations: the woman is to the man as the simple peasant is to the gentleman and as the prisoner is to the free man.


Fourth, Latimer functions as part of a highly educated, male, professional elite that takes power over the woman away from her husband and lodges it in the punishing and pardoning apparatus of the state. The husband, as Latimer tells the story, had thought he could use that apparatus as an extension of his own power, but instead a gap is disclosed between patriarchal authority in the marital relation and patriarchal authority in the society at large.4


Fifth, the male professional elite, whether constituted as a body of jurists, theologians, or physicians, attempts to regulate the female body: to identify its periods of untouchability or pollution, to cleanse it of its stains, to distinguish between "superstitious" practices and those conducive to public health. What we are witnessing is an instance of transcoding and naturalization: Latimer attempts to transfer the practice of purification from the religious to the civil sphere.s He goes out of his way to distinguish an appeal to "natural honesty"-that is, the demands of cleanliness, decorum, and health-from "superstition": thus he denies that before purification a woman sheds a malign influence on the objects about her and denounces those who "think they may not fetch fire nor any thing in that house where there is a green woman." Such folk beliefs are for Latimer part of the orbit of Catholicism and pose a threat to the commonwealth far greater than any posed by a "green woman." The religious rituals to ward off defilement are themselves defiling and must be cleansed by driving them out of the precinct of the sacred and into the realm of the secular.


Rituals of purification thus transcoded from the religious to the civil sphere serve to shape certain late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century representations, in particular theatrical representations, of women. Thus, for example, Hermione in Shakespeare's Winter's Tale complains bitterly that her husband has denied her "The child-bed privilege ... which 'longs/To women of all fashion" (3.2.103-4) and has brutally hurried her into "th' open air, before" she has "got strength of limit." Leontes has denied his wife the "child-bed privilege" because he believes that her adulterous body is defiled beyond redemption; she is, he is convinced, permanently and irreparably stained. Her sullying, as he perceives it, of the "purity and whiteness" of his sheets threatens to defile him as well, and he imagines that he can save himself only by denouncing and destroying her. The secularized ritual is disrupted by a primal male nausea at the thought of the female body, the nausea most fully articulated in King Lear:


But to the girdle do the gods inherit,

Beneath is all the fiends': there's hell, there's darkness,

There is the sulphurous pit, burning, scalding,

Stench, consumption. Fie, fie, fie! pah, pah!

Give me an ounce of civet; good apothecary,

Sweeten my imagination.


In The Winter's Tale this nausea appears to be awakened in some obscure way by Hermione's pregnancy, as if what it revealed was beyond the power of any ritual to cleanse. The play suggests that Leontes is horribly staining himself, and its last act movingly depicts a ceremony conducted by a woman, Paulina, to cleanse the king. The Winter's Tale then at once symbolically rehearses and reverses the ritual pattern that we glimpse in Latimer: the tainting of the female, her exclusion from the social contacts that normally govern her sex, and her ultimate reintegration into a renewed community.


We could go on to look at other instances of the "green woman" and the tainted man in Renaissance drama, but for an understanding of the circulation of social energy the representational content of Latimer's story is less resonant than its strategic practice. Latimer and Bilney choose to leave the poor prisoner hanging, as it were, until she has accepted the doctrinal point: "So we travailed with this woman till we brought her to a good trade; and at the length showed her the king's pardon and let her go." A student of Shakespeare will immediately think of Measure for Measure where in the interest of moral reformation, Duke Vincentia, disguised as a holy friar, forces Claudio to believe that he is about to be executed-indeed forces virtually all of the major characters to face dreaded punishmentsbefore he pardons everyone.


The resemblance between the tales arises not because Latimer's sermon is one of Shakespeare's sources but because Latimer is practicing techniques of arousing and manipulating anxiety, and these techniques are crucial elements in the representational technology of the Elizabethan and Jacobean theater. 7


English dramatists developed extraordinary mastery of these techniques; indeed one of the defining characteristics of the dramaturgy of Marlowe and Shakespeare, as opposed to that of their medieval predecessors, is the startling increase in the level of represented and aroused anxiety. There is, to be sure, fear and trembling in the mysteries and moralities of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, but a dread bound up with the fate of particular situated individuals is largely absent, and the audience shares its grief and joy in a collective experience that serves either to ward off or to absorb private emotions. Marlowe's Faustus, by contrast, though it appears conventional enough in its plot and overarching religious ideology, seems like a startling departure from everything that has preceded it precisely because the dramatist has heightened and individuated anxiety to an unprecedented degree and because he has contrived to implicate his audience as individuals in that anxiety.


Not all theatrical spectacles in the late sixteenth century are equally marked by the staging of anxiety: both civic pageantry and the masque are characterized by its relative absence. But in the public theater the manipulation of anxiety plays an important part and is brought to a kind of perfection in Shakespeare. This is obviously and overwhelmingly the case in the tragedies: Othello, for example, remorselessly heightens audience anxiety, an anxiety focused on the audience's inability to intervene and stop the murderous chain of lies and misunderstandings. But it is equally the case, in a different register, in the comedies. The pleasures of love, courtship, music, dance, and poetry in these plays are continually seasoned by fear, grief, and the threat of shame and death. The comedy of The Comedy of Errors, for example, floats buoyantly on a sea of epistemological and ontological confusion that is represented as having potentially fatal consequences. The audience's anxiety at these consequences, and for that matter at its own confusion, is different from that in a tragedy but is nonetheless an important element in the aesthetic experience. We could argue that anxiety in the comedies is an emotion experienced only by the characters and not by the audience, that comic pleasure lies in contemplating the anxiety of others. But this Hobbesian account does not do justice to the currents of sympathy in the plays and overlooks Shakespeare's efforts to make us identify powerfully with the dilemmas that his characters face. A sardonic detachment, such as one feels in response to a play like Ben Jonson's Every Man in His Humour, is not called forth by The Merchant of Venice or Twelfth Night, plays in which the audience's pleasure clearly depends upon a sympathetic engagement with the characters' situation and hence the acceptance of a measure of anxiety.s


It is worth stressing, however, that the audience accepts theatrical anxiety for the sake of pleasure, since this pleasure enables us to make an important distinction between the manipulation of anxiety in the theater and the comparable practice in Latimer. 9 The dramatist may have a palpable ideological purpose, generating anxiety, for example, to persuade women to submit to their husbands, or to warn men against paranoid suspicions of women, or to persuade subjects to obey even corrupt authority rather than risk rebellion. But in the public theater such purposes are subordinated to the overriding need to give pleasure. Anxiety takes its place alongside other means-erotic arousal, the excitement of spectacle, the joys of exquisite language, the satisfaction of curiosity about other peoples and places, and so forth-that the players employ to attract and satisfy their customers. The whole point of anxiety in the theater is to make it give such delight that the audience will pay for it again and again.10 And this delight seems bound up with the marking out of theatrical anxiety as represented anxiety-not wholly real, either in the characters on stage or in the audience. 11


Latimer, by contrast, insists that the anxiety in which he traffics is real. He does not, as far as we can tell, withhold the prisoner's pardon to heighten her subsequent pleasure; his purpose rather is to use her anxiety as a tool to transform her attitude toward what he regards as superstition.12 Why should anxiety be used for this purpose? The answer perhaps seemed too obvious for Latimer to articulate: anxiety, in the form of threats of humiliation and beating, had long been used as an educative tool. To be sure, the threat of hanging goes well beyond what Shakespeare's Duke Vincentia in Measure for Measure calls "the threat'ning twigs of birch" (1.3.24), but Latimer presumably believes that at moments of crisis, moments beyond hope itself, men and women have to face the truth; their defenses are down, and they are forced to confront their salvation or perdition.13 Latimer may also believe that we are all in effect under a death sentence from which we can be redeemed only by a mysterious and gratuitous act of pardon from God. The situation of the Cambridge prisoner is that of all mankind: hence the appropriateness of the story in a sermon on the Lord's Prayer. If he risked presumptuously casting himself or Henry VIII in the role of God, he could have appealed in good conscience to his certainty that he was God's humble servant. And if he seemed cruel, he could have told himself that he too would prefer death to doctrinal error. "Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man," Latimer was to say as the flames rose around his feet. "We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."


Latimer's last words, as the martyrologist Foxe reports them, move us beyond anxiety to the still point of absolute faith, but very few sixteenth-century Englishmen succeeded in reaching that point. (I doubt that many sixteenth-century Englishmen wanted to reach that point.) Those who governed the church had to be content that the faithful remain in a condition of what we may call salutary anxiety, and those who governed the state actively cultivated that condition. For the ruling elite believed that a measure of insecurity and fear was a necessary, healthy element in the shaping of proper loyalties, and Elizabethan and Jacobean institutions deliberately evoked this insecurity. Hence the church's constant insistence upon the fear and trembling, the sickness unto death, that every Christian should experience; hence too the public and increasingly spectacular character of the punishments inflicted by the state.


At his accession to the English throne, in response to a murky conspiracy known as the Bye Plot, James I staged a particularly elaborate display of the techniques of salutary anxiety. Two of the alleged conspirators-the priests Watson and Clarke-were tortured horribly, "to the great discontent of the people," writes one observer, "who now think that matters were not so heinous as were made show of."14 As usual, the dismembered bodies were stuck on the city gates. A week later another conspirator, George Brooke, was executed, and then after several more days, the sheriff led to the scaffold Lords Grey and Cobham and Sir Gervase Markham, who had also been condemned to die. Markham, who had hoped for a reprieve, looked stunned with horror. After a delay, the sheriff told him that since he seemed ill prepared to face death, he would be granted a two-hour reprieve; similar delays were granted to Grey and Cobham. The prisoners were then assembled together on the scaffold, "looking strange one upon the other," wrote Dudley Carleton, who witnessed the scene, "like men beheaded, and met again in the other world." At this point the sheriff made a short speech, asking the condemned if the judgments against them were just. When the wretches assented, he proclaimed that the merciful king had granted them their lives. 15


The florid theatricality of the occasion was not lost on Carleton; the three men, he observed, were "together on the stage as use is at the end of the play." And in his letter granting the reprieve, James himself seems to confirm Carleton's perception. The king suggests that his clemency is in part a response to the "hearty and general ... applause" given him on his entry into England, applause in which "all the kin, friends, and allies" of the condemned participated.16 The cheering had stopped after the first three executions, for if some anxiety is salutary, it may also go too far and evoke not obedience but a sullen withdrawal into discontented silence or even an outburst of rash rebellion. These scenarios are at most only partially and superficially in the control of the authorities; if at such times the prince seems to manipulate the anxieties of others, he inevitably discloses his own half-buried fearsY The executioner held up Brooke's severed head and cried, "God save the king!" But the cry "was not seconded," Carleton notes, "by the voice of any one man but the sheriff." The spectators to the display of royal clemency, on the other hand, once again found their voices, for their anxiety had been turned into gratitude: "There was then no need to beg a plaudite of the audience," remarks Carleton, "for it was given with such hues and cries, that it went down from the castle into the town, and there began afresh. "lS So too the audience may have cheered the flurry of pardons in the last act of Measure for Measure.


But why should Renaissance England have been institutionally committed to the arousal of anxiety? After all, there was plenty of anxiety without the need of such histrionic methods; like other European countries of the period, England had experienced a population growth that put a heavy strain on food supplies, and the struggle for survival was intensified by persistent inflation, unemployment, and epidemic disease. But perhaps precisely because this anxiety was pervasive and unavoidable, those in power wanted to incorporate it ideologically and manage it. Managed insecurity may have been reassuring both to the managers themselves and to those toward whom the techniques were addressed.


Public maimings and executions were designed to arouse fear and to set the stage for the royal pardons that would demonstrate that the prince's justice was tempered with mercy.19 If there were only fear, the prince, it was said, would be deemed a tyrant; if there were only mercy, it was said that the people would altogether cease to be obedient. Similarly, religious anxiety was welcomed, even cultivated, as the necessary precondition of the reassurance of salvation. William Tyndale suggested that St. Paul had written the Epistle to the Romans precisely to generate a suffering that could then be joyously relieved: "For except thou have born the cross of adversity and temptation, and hast felt thyself brought unto the very brim of desperation, yea, and unto hell-gates, thou canst never meddle with the sentence of predestination without thine own harm. "20


What would be the harm? Why shouldn't the order of things be simply revealed without the prior generation of anxiety? Because, answers Tyndale, unless one is "under the cross and suffering of tribulation," it is impossible to contemplate that order "without secret wrath and grudging inwardly against God"; that is, "it shall not be possible for thee to think that God is righteous and just." Salutary anxiety, then, blocks the anger and resentment that would well up against what must, if contemplated in a secure state, seem an unjust order. And the great virtue of the technique is that it blocks secret wrath and inward grudging-that is, it does not merely suppress the expression of undesirable responses but represses those responses at their source, so that potential anger gives way to obedience, loyalty, and admiration.


Renaissance England had a subtle conception of the relation between anxiety and the fashioning of the individual subject, and its governing institutions developed discursive and behavioral strategies to implement this conception by arousing anxiety and then transforming it through pardon into gratitude, obedience, and love. These strategies were implicated from their inception in the management of spectacles and the fashioning of texts; that is, they arealready implicated in cultural practices that are essential to the making and staging of plays. There was no need in this case for special modifications to adapt the techniques of salutary anxiety to the theater. Indeed the theater is a virtual machine for deploying these techniques in a variety of registers, from the comic anxiety that gives way to the clarification and release of marriage to the tragic anxiety that is at once heightened and ordered by the final solemnity of death. It is not surprising that the disguised duke of Measure For Measure, who fuses the strategies of statecraft and religion, has also seemed to many critics an emblem of the playwright.


This perception seems to me fundamentally correct, but it is complicated by what happens to the techniques of salutary anxiety when they are transferred to the stage. Even as it is evoked with extraordinary technical skill, salutary anxiety is emptied out in the service of theatrical pleasure. This emptying out through representation enables Shakespeare at once to identify the playwright with the mastery of salutary anxiety and to subject that mastery to complex ironic scrutiny. If Shakespeare in Measure for Measure seems to represent the protagonist's task as inflicting anxiety for ideological purposes, he also clearly calls that task into question. In a scene that particularly recalls Latimer's story, the disguised duke pays a pastoral visit to "the afflicted spirits" in the town prison. "Do me the common right," he asks the provost,


To let me see them, and to make me know

The nature of their crimes, that I may minister

To them accordingly.




"Repent you," he asks the pregnant Juliet, who has been imprisoned for fornication, "of the sin you carry?" The question, collapsing the sin and its fruit into one another, is a harsh one, but the prisoner replies serenely: "I do; and bear the shame most patiently." Sensing an unwelcome doctrinal slippage in the shift from sin to shame, Duke Vincentio proposes to teach the unfortunate Juliet


how you shall arraign your conscience,

And try your penitence, if it be sound,

Or hollowly put on.


"I'll gladly learn," Juliet replies, and the remainder of the short scene provides a revealing glimpse of the duke's methods and interests:


Duke: Love you the man that wrong'd you?



Juliet: Yes, as I love the woman that wrong'd him.


Duke: So then it seems your most offenseful act Was mutually committed?



Juliet: Mutually.


Duke: Then was your sin of heavier kind than his.


Juliet: I do confess it, and repent it, father.



Duke: 'Tis meet so, daughter, but lest you do repent

As that the sin hath brought you to this shame,

Which sorrow is always toward ourselves, not heaven,

Showing we would not spare heaven as we love it

But as we stand in fear-


Juliet: I do repent me as it is an evil,

And take the shame with joy.


Duke: There rest.

Your partner, as I hear, must die to-morrow,

And I am going with instruction to him.

Grace go with you, Benedicite!


Juliet: Must die to-morrow? 0 injurious love,

That respites me a life whose very comfort

Is still a dying horror!


Provost: 'Tis pity of him.


The duke's questioning of the prisoner is based upon the medieval distinction between attrition and contrition. As one fourteenth century theologian puts it, "When the will of a man clinging to sin is overcome by fear and by consideration of the punishment owed for sin, and on account of this recoils from sin, he is said to be 'attrite'; but when not only from fear of punishment, but also from love of eternal life he totally recoils from sin by fully detesting it, he is called 'contrite.' "21 Juliet interrupts and in effect silences the duke's attempt to draw this doctrinal distinction:


I do repent me as it is an evil,

And take the shame with joy.


These words may express a perfect contrition, but they may also signal a quiet rejection of the whole system for which the duke speaks. "I do repent me as it is an evil"-but is it an evil? The provost had remarked of Claudio that he was "a young man/More fit to do another such offense/Than die for this" (2.3.13-15). "And take the shame with joy": earlier Juliet referred to her unborn child as "the shame." If she is still doing so, then her words affirm not repentance but love for her child. In either case, Juliet's words here and throughout the exchange are remarkable for their tranquillity. Each of Duke Vincentio's questions would seem to be an attempt to awaken an instructive anxiety, but the attempt appears to fail.


In response to Juliet's words the duke can only reply, "There rest." But as if this "rest" contradicts his own interest in arousing rather than allaying anxiety, he immediately continues by casually informing Juliet that the man she loves will be executed the next day. Her response provides ample evidence of anxiety, but that anxiety does not appear to serve an orthodox' ideological purpose:


O injurious love, That respites me a life whose very comfort Is still a dying horror!


Again the words are ambiguous (and emendations have been proposed), but Juliet appears either to be calling into question the divine love about which the duke has just been lecturing her or the human love whose fruit-the baby she carries in her womb-has presumably afforded her a "respite" from the execution to which her conviction for fornication would have doomed her. In either case, the anxiety she is expressing simply brushes aside the theological categories the duke had taken it upon himself to instill in her.


None of the duke's other attempts to awaken anxiety and to shape it into what he regards as a proper attitude has the desired effect. When Claudio voices what sounds like an admirable acceptance of his situation-"I have hope to live, and am prepar'd to die II -Duke Vincentio replies, "Be absolute for death: either death or life /Shall thereby be the sweeter" (3.1.4-6). Here the duke would appear to be molding Claudio's emotions into philosophical detachment, but the strategy fails since Claudio almost immediately abandons his detachment and frantically sues for life. We may say that the duke has succeeded in raising Claudio's anxiety level, but the moral purpose for which he set out to do so seems to have collapsed.


The duke had embarked on his course because Vienna seemed insufficiently anxious in the presence of authority:


Now, as fond fathers, Having bound up the threat'ning twigs of birch, Only to stick it in their children's sight


For terror, not to use, in time the rod

Becomes more mock'd than fear'd; so our decrees,

Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead,

And liberty plucks justice by the nose;

The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart

Goes all decorum.



But at the close of the play, society at large seems singularly unaffected by the renewed exercise in anxiety. The magnificent emblems of indifference are the drunken Barnadine and the irrepressible Lucio: if they are any indication, the duke's strategy has not changed the structure of feeling or behavior in Vienna in the slightest degree. All that it has done is to offer the spectators pleasure in the spectacle. But that pleasure is precisely Shakespeare's professional purpose, and his ironic reflections on salutary anxiety do not at all diminish his commitment to it as a powerful theatrical technique.


When near the close of his career Shakespeare reflected upon his own art with still greater intensity and self-consciousness than in Measure for Measure, he once again conceived of the playwright as a princely creator of anxiety. But where in Measure for Measure disguise is the principal emblem of this art, in The Tempest the emblem is the far more potent and disturbing power of magic. Prospero's chief magical activity throughout The Tempest is to harrow the other characters with fear and wonder and then to reveal that their anxiety is his to create and allay. The spectacular storm in the play's first scene gives way to Miranda's empathic agitation: "o! I have suffered/With those that I saw suffer. ... 0, the cry did knock/ Against my very heart." "The direful spectacle of the wrack," replies Prospero,


which touch'd

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 heardst cry, which thou saw'st sink. ( 1.2.26-32)


Miranda has been treated to an intense experience of suffering and to a still more intense demonstration of her father's power, the power at once to cause such suffering and to cancel it. Later in the play the threat of "perdition" -both loss and damnation-will be concentrated against Prospero's enemies, but it is important to recall that at the start the management of anxiety through the "provision" of art is practiced upon Prospero's beloved daughter. Her suffering is the prelude to the revelation of her identity, as if Prospero believes that this revelation can be meaningful only in the wake of the amazement and pity he artfully arouses. He is setting out to fashion her identity, just as he is setting out to refashion the inner lives of his enemies, and he employs comparable disciplinary techniques.


With his daughter, Prospero's techniques are mediated and softened: she suffers at the sight of the sufferings of unknown wretches. With his enemies the techniques are harsher and more direct-the spectacle they are compelled to watch is not the wreck of others but of their own lives. In one of the play's most elaborate scenes, Prospero stands above the stage, invisible to those below him, and conjures up a banquet for Alonso, Antonio, Sebastian, and their party; when they move toward the table, Ariel appears like a Harpy and, with a clap of his wings and a burst of thunder and lightning, makes the table disappear. Ariel then solemnly recalls their crimes against Prospero and sentences the guilty in the name of the powers of Destiny and Fate:


Thee of thy son, Alonso,

They have bereft; and do pronounce by me

Ling'ring perdition (worse than any death

Can be at once).


Prospero is delighted at Ariel's performance:


My high charms work,

And these, mine enemies, are all knit up

In their distractions. They now are in my pow'r.



To compel others to be "all knit up /In their distractions," to cause a paralyzing anxiety, is the dream of power, a dream perfected over bitter years of exile.22 But as we have already seen, the artful manipulation of anxiety is not only the manifestation of aggression; it is also a strategy for shaping the inner lives of others and for fashioning their behavior. Hence we find Prospero employing the strategy not only upon those he hates but upon his daughter and upon the man whom he has chosen to be his daughter's husband. Ferdinand and Miranda fall in love instantly-"lt goes on, I see, / As my soul prompts it" (1.2-420-21), remarks Prospero-but what is missing from their love is precisely the salutary anxiety that Pro spero undertakes to impose: "this swift business II must uneasy make, lest too light winning /Make the prize light" (1.2.451-53). To Miranda's horror, he accuses Ferdinand of treason and employs his magic charms once again to cause a kind of paralysis: "My spirits," exclaims Ferdinand, "as in a dream, are all bound up" (1.2-487). The rituals of humiliation and suffering through which Prospero makes Ferdinand and Miranda pass evidently have their desired effect: at the end of the play the couple displayed to the amazed bystanders are revealed to be not only in a state of love but in a state of symbolic war. The lovers, you will recall, are discovered playing chess, and Miranda accuses Ferdinand of cheating. The deepest happiness is represented in this playas a state of playful tension.


Perhaps the supreme representation of this tension in The Tempest is to be found not in Pro spero' s enemies or in his daught~r and son-in-law but in himself. The entire action of the play rests on the premise that value lies in controlled uneasiness, and hence that a direct reappropriation of the usurped dukedom and a direct punishment of the usurpers has less moral and political value than an elaborate inward restaging of loss, misery, and anxiety. Prospero directs this restaging not only against the others but also-even principally-against himself. That is, he arranges for the reenactment in a variety of registers and through different symbolic agents of the originary usurpation, and in the play's most memorable yet perplexing moment, the princely artist puts himself through the paralyzing uneasiness with which he has afflicted others. The moment to which I refer is that of the interrupted wedding masque. In the midst of the climactic demonstration of Pro spero' s magical powers, the celebration of the paradisal "green land" where spring comes at the very end of harvest, Prospero suddenly starts, breaks off the masque, and declares that he had "forgot that foul conspiracy / Of the beast Caliban and his confederates / Against my life" (4.1.139-41).


In recalling the conspiracy, Prospero clearly exhibits signs of extreme distress: Ferdinand is struck by the "passion/That works him strongly," and Miranda says that "never till this day" has she seen him "touch'd with anger, so distemper'd" (4.1.143-45). Noticing that Ferdinand looks "in a mov'd sort," as if he were "dismay'd," Prospero tells him to "be cheerful" and informs him that "Our revels now are ended." The famous speech that follows has the effect of drastically evacuating the masque's majestic vision of plenitude. "Let me live here ever," the delighted Ferdinand had exclaimed, enchanted by the promise of an aristocrat's equivalent of the Land of Cockaigne:


Honor, riches, marriage-blessing,

Long continuance, and increasing,

Hourly joys be still upon you!



But Prospero now explains that the beneficent goddesses "Are melted into air, into thin air" (4.1.150). What had seemed solid is "baseless"; what had seemed enduring ("the great globe itself")


shall dissolve,

And like this insubstantial pageant faded

Leave not a rack behind.




Prospero offers this sublime vision of emptiness to make Ferdinand feel" cheerful" -secure in the consciousness that life is a dream. It is difficult to believe in the effectiveness of these professed attempts at reassurance: like Duke Vincentio's religious consolations in Measure for Measure, they seem suited more to heighten anxiety than to allay it. The ascetic security Prospero articulates has evidently not stilled his own "beating mind":


Sir, I am vex'd;

Bear with my weakness, my oId brain is troubled.

Be not disturb'd with my infirmity.



Since Prospero' s art has in effect created the conspiracy as well as the defense against the conspiracy, and since the profession of infirmity comes at the moment of his greatest strength, we may conclude that we are witnessing the practice of salutary anxiety operating at the center of the play's world, in the consciousness of Prospero himself, magician, artist, and prince. This does not mean that Pro spero's anxiety about the conspiracy, about his enemies and servants and daughter, about his own inward state is not genuinely felt, nor does it mean that he is in absolute, untroubled control either of the characters whom he has brought onto the island or of himself. Rapt in his own magical vision of bounteousness, he has forgotten a serious threat to his life: "The minute of their plot lIs almost come" (4.1.141-42). But it is important to take seriously his deep complicity in his present tribulations, for only by actively willing them can he undo the tribulations that he unwillingly and unwittingly brought about years before. At that time, absorbed in his occult studies, he had been unaware of the dangers around him; now as the condition of a return to his dukedom, he himself brings those dangers to the center of his retreat. This center, whether we regard it as emblematic of the dominant religious, aesthetic, or political institution, is not the still point in a turbulent world but the point at which the anxieties that shape the character of others are screwed up to their highest pitch. Precisely from that point-and as a further exemplification of the salutary nature of anxiety-reconciliation and pardon can issue forth. This pardon is not a release from the power in which Pro spero holds everyone around him but, as with Latimer and James I, its ultimate expression.23


Shakespeare goes beyond Latimer and James, however, in envisaging a case in which anxiety does not appear to have its full redeeming effect, a case in which the object of attention refuses to be fashioned inwardly, refuses even to acknowledge guilt, and yet is pardoned. The generosity of the pardon in this instance is inseparable from a demonstration of supreme force. "For you, most wicked sir," Prospero says to his brother Antonio,


whom to call brother

Would even infect my mouth, I do forgive

Thy rankest fault-all of them; and require

My dukedom of thee, which perforce,

I know Thou must restore.


Antonio's silence at this point suggests that he remains unrepentant, but it also expresses eloquently the paralysis that is the hallmark of extreme anxiety. It has been argued convincingly that the truculence of the villains at the close of the play marks the limit of Prospero's power-as Prospero's failure to educate Caliban has already shown, the strategy of salutary anxiety cannot remake the inner life of everyone-yet at the very moment the limit is marked, the play suggests that it is relatively inconsequential. It would no doubt be preferable to receive the appropriate signs of inward gratitude from everyone, but Prospero will have to content himself in the case of Antonio with the full restoration of his dukedom.24


What I have been describing here is the theatrical appropriation and staging of a sixteenth- and seventeenth-century social practice. But the strategy of salutary anxiety is not simply reflected in a secondhand way by the work of art, because the practice itself is already implicated in the artistic traditions and institutions out of which this particular representation, The Tempest, has emerged. Latimer may have been indifferent or hostile to the drama and to literature in general, but his tale of the Cambridge prisoner seems shaped by literary conventions, earlier tales of wronged innocence and royal pardons. And if the practice he exemplifies helps to empower theatrical representations, fictive representations have themselves helped to empower his practice.25 So too Dudley Carleton, watching men about to go to their deaths, thinks of the last act of a play, and when a pardon is granted, the spectators applaud. This complex circulation between the social dimension of an aesthetic strategy and the aesthetic dimension of a social strategy is difficult to grasp because the strategy in question has an extraordinarily long and tangled history, one whose aesthetic roots go back at least as far as Aristotle's Poetics. But we may find a more manageable, though still complex, model in the relation between The Tempest and one of its presumed sources, William Strachey's account of the tempest that struck an English fleet bound for the fledgling colony at Jamestown.26


Strachey's account, with its bravura description of a violent storm at sea and its tale of Englishmen providentially cast ashore on an uninhabited island rumored to be devil haunted, is likely, along with other New World materials, to have helped shape The Tempest. The play was performed long before Strachey's narrative was printed in Purchas's Pilgrims as "A true reportory of the wrack, and redemption of Sir Thomas Cates Knight," but scholars presume that Shakespeare read a manuscript version of the work, which takes the form of a confidential letter written to a certain "noble lady. "27 My interest is not the particular verbal echoes, which have been painstakingly researched since Malone in 1808 first called attention to them, but the significance of the relation between the two texts, or rather between the institutions that the texts serve. For it is important to grasp that we are dealing not with the reflections of isolated individuals musing on current events but with expressions whose context is corporate and institutional.


William Strachey was a shareholder and secretary of the Virginia Company's colony at Jamestown; his letter on the events of 1609-10 was unpublished until 1625, not for want of interest but because the Virginia Company was engaged in a vigorous propaganda and financial campaign on behalf of the colony, and the company's leaders found Strachey's report too disturbing to allow it into print. Shakespeare too was a shareholder in a joint-stock company, the King's Men, as well as its principal playwright and sometime actor; The Tempest also remained unpublished for years, again presumably not for want of interest but because the theater company resisted losing control of its playbook. Neither joint-stock company was a direct agent of the crown: despite the legal fiction that they were retainers of the monarch, the King's Men could not have survived through royal patronage alone, and they were not in the same position of either dependence or privilege as other household servants; the crown had deliberately withdrawn from the direction of the Virginia Company. Royal protection and support, of course, remained essential in both cases, but the crown would not assume responsibility, nor could either company count on royal financial support in times of need. Committed for their survival to attracting investment capital and turning a profit, both companies depended on their ability to market stories that would excite, interest, and attract supporters. Both Strachey and Shakespeare were involved in unusually direct and intricate ways in every aspect of their companies' operations:


Strachey as shareholder, adventurer, and eventually secretary; Shakespeare as shareholder, actor, and playwright. Because of these multiple positions, both men probably identified intensely with the interests of their respective companies.


I want to propose that the relation between the play and its alleged source is a relation between joint-stock companies.28 I do not mean that there was a direct, contractual connection.29 As we have already seen with Latimer, the transfer of cultural practices and powers depends not upon contracts but upon networks of resemblance. In the case of Strachey and Shakespeare, there are, in point of fact, certain intriguing institutional affiliations: as Charles Mills Cayley observed many years ago, a remarkable number of social and professional connections link Shakespeare and the stockholders and directors of the Virginia Company; moreover, Strachey in 1605 wfote a prefatory sonnet commending Jonson's Sejanus and in 1606 is listed as a shareholder in an acting company known as the Children of the Queen's Revels, the company that had taken over the Blackfriars Theater from Richard Burbage. 30 Still, I should emphasize that these affiliations do not amount to a direct transfer of properties; we are dealing with a system of mimetic rather than contractual exchange. The conjunction of Strachey's unpublished letter and Shakespeare's play signals an institutional circulation of culturally significant narratives. And as we shall see, this circulation has as its central concern the public management of anxiety.


Strachey tells the story of a state of emergency and a cfisis of authority. The "unmerciful tempest" that almost sank Sir Thomas Gates's ship, the Sea Venture, provoked an immediate collapse of the distinction between those who labor and those who rule, a distinction, we should recall, that is at the economic and ideological center of Elizabethan and Jacobean society: "Then men might be seen to labour, I may well say, for life, and the better sort, even our Governour, and Admiral themselves, not refusing their turn .... And it is most true, such as in all their life times had never done hours work before (their minds now helping their bodies) were able twice forty eight hours together to toil with the best" (in Purchas, 19:9-11). "The best"-the violence of the storm has turned Strachey's own language upside down: now it is the common seamen, ordinarily despised and feared by their social superiors, who are, as the Romans called their aristocrats, the optimi viri, the best of men.31 Indeed the storm had quite literally a leveling force: while the governor was "both by his speech and authority heartening every man unto his labour," a great wave "struck him from the place where he sat, and groveled him, and all us about him on our faces, beating together with our breaths all thoughts from our bosoms, else then that we were now sinking" (10).


Even after the ship had run aground in the Bermudas and the one hundred fifty men, women, and children on board had been saved, the crisis of authority was not resolved; indeed it only intensified then, not because of a leveling excess of anxiety but because of its almost complete absence in the colonists. The alarm of the rulers makes itself felt in quirks of Strachey's style. He reports, for example, that many palmettos were cut down for their edible tops, but the report has a strange nervous tone, as the plants are comically turned into wealthy victims of a popular uprising: "Many an ancient Burgher was therefore heaved at, and fell not for his place, but for his head: for our common people, whose bellies never had ears, made it no breach of Charity in their hot bloods and tall stomachs to murder thousands of them" (19).



The strain registered here in the tone stands for concerns that are partially suppressed in the published text, concerns that are voiced in a private letter written in December 1610 by Richard Martin, secretary of the Virginia Company in London, to Strachey, who was by then in Jamestown. Martin asks Strachey for a full confidential report on "the nature & quality of the soil, & how it is like to serve you without help from hence, the manners of the people, how the Barbarians are content with your being there, but especially how our own people do brook their obedience, how they endure labor, whether willingly or upon constraint, how they live in the exercise of Religion, whether out of conscience or for fashion, And generally what ease you have in the government there, & what hope of success."32


Here the deepest fears lie not with the human or natural resources of the New World but with the discipline of the English colonists and common seamen. And the principal questions- whether obedience is willing or forced, whether religious observance is sincere or feigned-suggest an interest in inner states, as if the shareholders in the Virginia Company believed that only with a set of powerful inward restraints could the colonists be kept from rebelling at the first sign of the slippage or relaxation of authority. The company had an official institutional interest in shaping and controlling the minds of its own people. But the Bermuda shipwreck revealed the difficulty of this task as well as its importance: set apart from the institutional and military safeguards established at Jamestown, Bermuda was an experimental space, a testing ground where the extent to which disciplinary anxiety had been internalized by the ordinary venturers could be measured.


The results were not encouraging. As Strachey and others remark, Bermuda was an extraordinarily pleasant surprise: the climate was healthful, the water was pure, there were no native inhabitants to contend with, and, equally important, there was no shortage of food. Tortoises-"such a kind of meat, as a man can neither absolutely call Fish nor Flesh" (24)33-were found in great number, and the skies were dark with great flocks of birds:


Our men found a pretty way to take them, which was by standing on the Rocks or Sands by the Sea side, and hollowing, laughing, and making the strangest out-cry that possibly they could: with the noise whereof the Birds would come flocking to that place, and settle upon the very arms and head of him that so cried, and still creep nearer and nearer, answering the noise themselves: by which our men would weigh them with their hands, and which weighed heaviest they took for the best and let the others alone. (Purchas, 19:22-23)


Even to us, living for the most part in the confident expectation of full bellies, this sounds extraordinary enough; to seventeenthcentury voyagers, whose ordinary condition was extreme want and who had dragged themselves from the violent sea onto an unknown shore with the likely prospect of starvation and death, such extravagant abundance must have seemed the fantastic realization of old folk dreams of a land where the houses were roofed with pies and the pigs ran about with little knives conveniently stuck in their precooked sides. In this Land of Cockaigne setting, far removed not only from England but from the hardships ofJamestown, the authority of Sir Thomas Cates and his lieutenants was anything but secure. For the perception that Bermuda was a providential deliverance contained within it a subversive corollary: why leave? why press on to a hungry garrison situated in a pestiferous swamp and in grave tension with the surrounding Algonquian tribesmen?34


According to Strachey, Cates was initially concerned less about his own immediate authority than about the possible consequences of his absence in Virginia. The Sea Venture had come to grief in the tempest, but Cates thought (correctly, as it happened) that the other two vessels might have reached their destination, and this thought brought not only consolation but anxiety, which focused, in characteristic Renaissance fashion, on the ambitions of the younger generation. Fearful about "what innovation and tumult might happily [haply] arise, among the younger and ambitious spirits of the new companies to arrive in Virginia" (26) in his absence, Cates wished to construct new ships as quickly as possible to continue on to Jamestown, but the sailors and the colonists alike began to grumble at this plan. In Virginia, they reasoned, "nothing but wretchedness and labour must be expected, with many wants and a churlish entreaty"; in Bermuda, all things "at ease and pleasure might be enjoyed" (29) without hardship or threatening. There is, at least as Strachey reports it, virtually no internalization of the ideology of colonialism; the voyagers appear to think of themselves as forced to endure a temporary exile from home. As long as "they were (for the time) to lose the fruition both of their friends and Country, as good, and better it were for them, to repose and seat them where they should have the least outward wants the while" (29)' And to this dangerous appeal-the appeal, in Strachey's words, of "liberty, and fulness of sensuality" (35)-was added a still more dangerous force: religious dissent.


Arguments against leaving Bermuda began to be voiced not only among the "idle, untoward, and wretched number of the many" (29) but among the educated few. One of these, Stephen Hopkins, "alleged substantial arguments, both civil and divine (the Scripture falsely quoted) that it was no breach of honesty, conscience, nor Religion, to decline from the obedience of the Governour, or refuse to go any further, led by his authority (except it so pleased themselves) since the authority ceased when the wrack was committed, and with it, they were all then freed from the government of any man" (30-31). Hopkins evidently accepted the governor's authority as a contractual obligation that continued only so long as the enterprise remained on course. Once there was a swerve from the official itinerary, that authority, not granted a general or universal character, lapsed, and the obedience of the subject gave way to the will and pleasure of each man.35 We cannot know, of course, if Hopkins said anything so radical, but this is how his "substantial arguments, both civil and divine," sounded to those in command. In Strachey's account, at least, the shipwreck had led to a profound questioning of authority that seems to anticipate the challenge posed by midseventeenth-century radicals like Winstanley. What are the boundaries of authority? What is the basis of its claim to be obeyed? How much loyalty does an individ ual owe to a corporation?


When the seditious words were reported to Gates, the governor convened a martial court and sentenced Hopkins to death, but the condemned man was so tearfully repentant that he received a pardon. This moving scene-the saving public display of anxietyevidently did not settle the question of authority, however, for shortly after, yet another mutiny arose, this time led by a gentleman named Henry Paine. When Paine was warned that he risked execution for "insolency," he replied, Strachey reports, "with a settled and bitter violence, and in such unreverent terms, as I should offend the modest ear too much to express it in his own phrase; but its contents were, how that the Governour had no authority of that quality, to justify upon anyone (how mean soever in the colony) an action of that nature, and therefore let the Governour (said he) kiss, &c." (34). When these words, "with the omitted additions," were reported, the governor, "who had now the eyes of the whole Colony fixed upon him," condemned Paine "to be instantly hanged; and the ladder being ready, after he had made many confessions, he earnestly desired, being a Gentleman, that he might be shot to death, and towards the evening he had his desire, the Sun and his life setting together" (34). "He had his desire" -Strachey' s sarcasm is also perhaps the representation of what those in authority regarded as an intolerable nonchalance, a refusal to perform those rituals of tearful repentance that apparently saved Hopkins's life. In effect Paine is killed to set an example, condemned to die for cursing authority, for a linguistic crime, for violating discursive decorum, for inadequate anxiety in the presence of power.


In his narrative, Strachey represents the norms Paine has challenged by means of his" &c." -the noble lady to whom he is writing, like Mr. Kurtz's intended, must be sheltered from the awful truth, here from the precise terms of the fatal irreverent challenge to authority. The suppression of the offending word enacts in miniature the reimposition of salutary anxiety by a governor "so solicitous and careful, whose both example ... and authority, could lay shame, and command upon our people" (28). The governor is full of care-therefore resistant to the lure of the island-and he manages, even in the midst of a paradisal plenty, to impose this care upon others. When the governor himself writes to a fellow officer explaining why all of the colonists must be compelled to leave the island, he invokes not England's imperial destiny or Christianity's advancement but the Virginia Company's investment: "The meanest in the whole Fleet stood the Company in no less than twenty pounds, for his own personal Transportation, and things necessary to accompany him" (36). On the strength of this compelling motive, new ships were built, and in an impressive feat of navigation, the whole company finally reached Jamestown.


Upon their arrival Gates and his people found the garrison in desperate condition-starving, confused, terrorized by hostile and treacherous Indians, and utterly demoralized. In Gates's view, the problem was almost entirely one of discipline, and he addressed it by imposing a set of "orders and instructions" upon the colony that transformed the" government" ofJamestown "into an absolute command." The orders were published in 1612 by Strachey as the Laws Divine, Moral, and Martial, an exceptionally draconian code by which whipping, mutilation, and the death penalty might be imposed for a wide range of offenses, including blasphemy, insubordination, even simple criticism of the Virginia Company and its officers. These orders, the first martial law code in America, suspended the traditionallegal sanctions that governed the lives of Englishmen, customary codes based on mutual constraints and obligations, and instituted in their stead the grim and self-consciously innovative logic of a state of emergency. The company's claim upon the colonists had become total. The group that had been shipwrecked in Bermuda passed from dreams of absolute freedom to the imposition of absolute control.


Such then were the narrative materials that passed from Strachey to Shakespeare, from the Virginia Company to the King's Men: a violent tempest, a providential shipwreck on a strange island, a crisis in authority provoked by both danger and excess, a fear of lower-class disorder and upper-class ambition, a triumphant affirmation of absolute control linked to the manipulation of anxiety and to a departure from the island. But the swerve away from these materials in The Tempest is as apparent as their presence: the island is not in America but in the Mediterranean; it is not uninhabited-Ariel and Caliban (and, for that matter, Sycorax) were present before the arrival of Pro spero and Miranda; none of the figures are in any sense colonists; the departure is for home rather than a colony and entails not an unequivocal heightening of authority but a partial diminution, signaled in Prospero' s abjuration of magic.


I'll break my staff, Bury it certain fadoms in the earth,

And deeper than did ever plummet sound I'll drown my book.


If the direction of Strachey's narrative is toward the promulgation of the martial law codes, the direction of The Tempest is toward forgiveness. And if that forgiveness is itself the manifestation of supreme power, the emblem of that power remains marriage rather than punishment.


The changes I have sketched are signs of the process whereby the Bermuda narrative is made negotiable, turned into a currency that may be transferred from one institutional context to another. The changes do not constitute a coherent critique of the colonial discourse, but they function as an unmooring of its elements so as to confer upon them the currency's liquidity. Detached from their context in Strachey's letter, these elements may be transformed and recombined with materials drawn from other writers about the New World who differ sharply from Strachey in their interests and motives-Montaigne, Sylvester Jourdain, James Rosier, Robert Eden, Peter Martyr-and then integrated in a dramatic text that draws on a wide range of discourse, including pastoral and epic poetry, the lore of magic and witchcraft, literary romance, and a remarkable number of Shakespeare's own earlier plays.


The ideological effects of the transfer to The Tempest are ambiguous. On the one hand, the play seems to act out a fantasy of mind control, to celebrate absolute patriarchal rule, to push to an extreme the dream of order, epic achievement, and ideological justification implicit in Strachey's text. The lower-class resistance Strachey chronicles becomes in Shakespeare the drunken rebellion of Stephano and Trinculo, the butler and jester who, suddenly finding themselves freed from their masters, are drawn to a poor man's fantasy of mastery: "the King and all our company else being drown'd, we will inherit here" (2.2.174-75). Similarly, the upper-class resistance of Henry Paine is transformed into the murderous treachery of Sebastian, in whom the shipwreck arouses dreams of an escape from subordination to his older brother, the king of Naples, just as Antonio had escaped subordination to his older brother Prospero:


Sebastian: I remember You did supplant your brother Prospero.


Antonio: True.

And look how well my garments sit upon me,

Much feater than before. My brother's servants

Were then my fellows, now they are my men.



By invoking fratricidal rivalry here Shakespeare is not only linking the Strachey materials to his own long-standing theatrical preoccupations but also supplementing the contractual authority of a governor like Sir Thomas Gates with the familial and hence culturally sanctified authority of the eldest son. To rise up against such a figure, as Claudius had against old Hamlet or Edmund against Edgar, is an assault not only on a political structure but on the moral and natural order of things: it is an act that has, as Claudius says, "the primal eldest curse upon't." The assault is magically thwarted by Ariel, the indispensable agent of Prospero's "art"; hence that art, potentially a force of disorder, spiritual violence, and darkness, is confirmed as the agent of legitimacy. Through his mastery of the occult, Prospero withholds food from his enemies, spies upon them, listens to their secret conversations, monitors their movements, blocks their actions, keeps track of their dealings with the island's native inhabitant, torments and disciplines his servants, defeats conspiracies against his life. A crisis of authority-deposition from power, exile, impotence-gives way through the power of his art to a full restoration. From this perspective Prospero's magic is the romance equivalent of martial law .


Yet The Tempest seems to raise troubling questions about this authority. The great storm with which the play opens has some of the leveling force of the storm that struck the Sea Venture. To be sure, unlike Strachey's gentlemen, Shakespeare's nobles refuse the boatswain's exasperated demand that they share the labor, "Work you then," but their snarling refusal-"Hang, cur! hang, you whoreson, insolent noisemaker!" (1.1.42-44)-far from securing their class superiority, represents them as morally beneath the level of the common seamen.37 Likewise, Shakespeare's king, Alonso, is not "groveled" by a wave, but-perhaps worse-he is peremptorily ordered below by the harried boatswain: "What cares these roarers for the name of king? To cabin! silence! trouble us not" (1.1.16-18). And if we learn eventually that these roarers are in fact produced by a king-in his name and through his command of a magical language-this knowledge does not altogether cancel our perception of the storm's indifference to the ruler's authority and the idle aristocrat's pride of place.


The perception would perhaps be overwhelmed by the display of Prospero's power were it not for the questions that are raised about this very power. A Renaissance audience might have found the locus of these questions in the ambiguous status of magic, an ambiguity deliberately heightened by the careful parallels drawn between Prospero and the witch Sycorax and by the attribution to Prospero of claims made by Ovid's witch Medea. But for a modern audience, at least, the questions center on the figure of Caliban, whose claim to the legitimate possession of the island-"This island's mine by Sycorax my mother" (1.2.331)-is never really answered, or rather is answered by Pro spero only with hatred, torture, and enslavement.38 Though he treats Caliban as less than human, Prospero finally expresses, in a famously enigmatic phrase, a sense of connection with his servant-monster, standing anxious and powerless before him: "this thing of darkness I / Acknowledge mine" (5.1.275-76). He may intend these words only as a declaration of ownership, but it is difficult not to hear in them some deeper recognition of affinity, some half-conscious acknowledgment of guilt. At the play's end the princely magician appears anxious and powerless before the audience to beg for indulgence and freedom.


As the epilogue is spoken, Pro spero' s magical power and princely authority-figured in the linked abilities to raise winds and to pardon offenders-pass, in a startling display of the circulation of social energy, from the performer onstage to the crowd of spectators. In the play's closing moments the marginal, vulnerable actor, more than half-visible beneath the borrowed robes of an assumed dignity, seems to acknowledge that the imaginary forces with which he has played reside ultimately not in himself or in the playwright but in the multitude. The audience is the source of his anxiety, and it holds his release quite literally in its hands: without the crowd's applause his "ending is despair" (Epilogue, 15). This admission of dependence includes a glance at the multitude's own vulnerability:


As you fram crimes would pardon'd be,

Let your indulgence set me free.

(Epilogue, 19-20)


But it nonetheless implicates the prince as well as the player in the experience of anxiety and the need for pardon.


Furthermore, even if we may argue that such disturbing or even subversive reflections are contained within the thematic structure of the play, a structure that seems to support the kind of authority served by Strachey, we must acknowledge that the propagandists for colonization found little to admire in the theater. That is, the most disturbing effects of the play may have been located not in what may be perceived in the text by a subtle interpreter-implied criticisms of colonialism or subversive doubts about its structures of authority-but in the phenomenon of theatrical representation itself. In 1593 Sir Thomas Smith reminded each captain in Virginia that his task was "to lay the foundation of a good and ... an eternal colony for your posterity, not a May game or stage play. "39 Festive, evanescent, given over to images of excess, stage plays function here as the symbolic opposite to the lasting colony. So too in a sermon preached in London in 1610 to a group of colonists about to set out for Virginia, William Crashaw declared that the enemies of the godly colony were the devil, the pope, and the players-the latter angry "because we resolve to suffer no Idle persons in Virginia. "40 Similarly, at the end of the martial law text, Strachey records an exceptionally long prayer that he claims was" duly said Morning and Evening upon the Court of Guard, either by the Captain of the watch himself, or by some one of his principal officers." If Strachey is right, twice a day the colonists would have heard, among other uplifting sentiments, the following: "Whereas we have by undertaking this plantation undergone the reproofs of the base world, insomuch as many of our own brethren laugh us to scorn, 0 Lord we pray thee fortify us against this temptation: let Sanballat, & Tobias, Papists & players, & such other Ammonites & Horonites the scum & dregs of the earth, let them mock such as help to build up the walls of Jerusalem, and they that be filthy, let them be filthy still."41 Even if the content of a play seemed acceptable, the mode of entertainment itself was the enemy of the colonial plantation.


What then is the relation between the theater and the surrounding institutions? Shakespeare's play offers us a model of unresolved and unresolvable doubleness: the island in The Tempest seems to be an image of the place of pure fantasy, set apart from surrounding discourses; and it seems to be an image of the place of power, the place in which all individual discourses are organized by the halfinvisible ruler. By extension art is a well-demarcated, marginal, private sphere, the realm of insight, pleasure, and isolation; and art is a capacious, central, public sphere, the realm of proper political order made possible through mind control, coercion, discipline, anxiety, and pardon. The aesthetic space-or, more accurately, the commercial space of the theatrical joint-stock company-is constituted by the simultaneous appropriation of and swerving from the discourse of power.


And this doubleness in effect produces two different accounts of the nature of mimetic economy. In one account, aesthetic representation is unlike all other exchanges because it takes nothing; art is pure plenitude. Everywhere else there is scarcity: wretches cling to "an acre of barren ground, long heath, brown furze, any thing" (1.1.66-67), and one person's gain is another's loss. In works of art, by contrast, things can be imitated, staged, reproduced without any loss or expense; indeed what is borrowed seems enhanced by the borrowing, for nothing is used up, nothing fades. The magic of art resides in the freedom of the imagination and hence in liberation from the constraints of the body. What is produced elsewhere only by intense labor is produced in art by a magical command whose power Shakespeare figures in Ariel's response to Prospero' s call:


All hail, great master, grave sir, hail! I come

To answer thy best pleasure; be't to fly,

To swim, to dive into the fire, to ride

On the curl'd clouds. To thy strong bidding, task

Ariel, and all his quality.


This account of art as pure plenitude is perhaps most perfectly imaged in Prospero's wedding masque, with its goddesses and nymphs and dancing reapers, its majestic vision of


Barns and garners never empty;

Vines with clust'ring bunches growing,

Plants with goodly burthen bowing.



But the prayer at the end of the martial law code reminds us that there is another version of mimetic economy, one in which aesthetic exchanges, like all other exchanges, always involve loss, even if it is cunningly hidden; in which aesthetic value, like all


other value, actively depends upon want, craving, and absence; in which art itself-fantasy ridden and empty-is the very soul of scarcity. This version too finds its expression in The Tempest in the high cost Pro spero has paid for his absorption in his secret studies, in Ariel's grumblings about his "pains" and "toil," and in the sudden vanishing-"to a strange, hollow, and confused noise" -of the masque that had figured forth plenitude and in Prospero's richly anxious meditation on the "baseless fabric" of his own glorious vision.


It is this doubleness that Shakespeare's joint-stock company bequeathed to its cultural heirs. And the principal beneficiary in the end was not the theater but a different institution, the institution of literature. Shakespeare served posthumously as a principal shareholder in this institution as well-not as a man of the theater but as the author of the book. During Shakespeare's lifetime, the King's Men showed no interest in and may have actually resisted the publication of a one-volume collection of their famous playwright's work; the circulation of such a book was not in the interests of their company. But other collective enterprises, including the educational system in which this study is implicated, have focused more on the text than on the playhouse.


For if Shakespeare himself imagined Pro spero' s island as the great Globe Theater, succeeding generations found that island more compactly and portably figured in the bound volume. The passage from the stage to the book signals a larger shift from the joint-stock company, with its primary interest in protecting the common property, to the modern corporation, with its primary interest in the expansion and profitable exploitation of a network of relations. Unlike the Globe, which is tied to a particular place and time and community, unlike even the traveling theater company, with its constraints of personnel and stage properties and playing space, the book is supremely portable. It may be readily detached from its immediate geographical and cultural origins, its original producers and consumers, and endlessly reproduced, circulated, exchanged, exported to other times and places.42


The plays, of course, continue to live in the theater, but Shakespeare's achievement and the cult of artistic genius erected around the achievement have become increasingly identified with his collected works. Those works have been widely acknowledged as the central literary achievement of English culture. As such they served-and continue to serve-as a fetish of Western civilization, a fetish Caliban curiously anticipates when he counsels Stephano and Trinculo to cut Prospero's throat:43


Remember First to possess his books; for without them

He's but a sot, as I am; nor hath not

One spirit to command: they all do hate him

As rootedly as I. Burn but his books.



I want to close with a story that provides an oddly ironic perspective on Caliban's desire and exemplifies the continued doubleness of Shakespeare in our culture: at once the embodiment of civilized recreation, freed from the anxiety of rule, and the instrument of empire. The story is told by H. M. Stanley-the journalist and African explorer of "Doctor Livingstone, I presume?" fame-in his account of his journeyings through what he calls "the dark continent." In May 1877 he was at a place called Mowa in central Africa. I will let him tell the story in his own words:


On the third day of our stay at Mowa, feeling quite comfortable amongst the people, on account of their friendly bearing, I began to write down in my note-book the terms for articles in order to improve my already copious vocabulary of native words. I had proceeded only a few minutes when I observed a strange commotion amongst the people who had been flocking about me, and presently they ran away. In a short time we heard war-cries ringing loudly and shrilly over the table-land. Two hours afterwards, a long line of warriors, armed with muskets, were seen descending the table-land and advancing towards our camp. There may have been between five hundred and six hundred of them. We, on the other hand, had made but few preparations except such as would justify us replying to them in the event of the actual commencement of hostilities. But I had made many firm friends amongst them, and I firmly believed that I would be able to avert an open rupture.


When they had assembled at about a hundred yards in front of our camp, Safeni [the chief of another tribe with whom Stanley had become friendly] and I walked up towards them, and sat down midway. Some half-dozen of the Mowa people came near, and the shauri began.


"What is the matter, my friends?" I asked. "Why do you come with guns in your hands in such numbers, as though you were coming to fight? Fight! Fight us, your friends! Tut! this is some great mistake, surely."


"Mundele," replied one of them, ... "our people saw you yesterday make marks on some tara-tara" (paper). "This is very bad. Our country will waste, our goats will die, our bananas will rot, and our wornen will dry up. What have we done to you, that you should wish to kill us? We have sold you food, and we have brought you wine, each day. Your people are allowed to wander where they please, without trouble. Why is the Mundele so wicked? We have gathered together to fight you if you do not burn that tara-tara now before our eyes. If you burn it we go away, and shall be friends as heretofore."


I told them to rest there, and left Safeni in their hands as a pledge that I should return. My tent was not fifty yards from the spot, but while going towards it my brain was busy in devising some plan to foil this superstitious madness. My note-book contained a vast number of valuable notes; plans of falls, creeks, villages, sketches of localities, ethnologi2al and philological details, sufficient to fill two octavo volumes-everything was of general interest to the public. I could not sacrifice it to the childish caprice of savages. As I was rummaging my book box, I came across a volume of Shakespeare (Chandos edition), much worn and well thumbed, and which was of the same size as my field-book; its cover was similar also, and it might be passed for the note-book provided that no one remembered its appearance too well. I took it to them.


"Is this the tara-tara, friends, that you wish burnt?"


"Yes, yes, that is it!"


"Well, take it, and burn it or keep it."


"M-m. No, no, no. We will not touch it. It is fetish. You must burn it." "I! Well, let it be so. I will do anything to please my good friends of Mowa."


We walked to the nearest fire. I breathed a regretful farewell to my genial companion, which during rnany weary hours of night had assisted to relieve my mind when oppressed by almost intolerable woes, and then gravely consigned the innocent Shakespeare to the flames, heaping the brush-fuel over it with ceremonious cale.


"Ah-h-h," breathed the poor deluded natives, sighing their relief. "The Mundele is good-is very good. He loves his Mowa friends. There is no trouble now, Mundele. The Mowa people are not bad." And something approaching to a cheer was shouted among them, which terminated the episode of the Burning of Shakespeare. 44


Stanley's precious notebook, with its sketches and ethnographic and philologic details, survived then and proved invaluable in charting and organizing the Belgian Congo, perhaps the most vicious of all of Europe's African colonies. As Stanley had claimed, everything was indeed of general interest to the public. After Stanley's death, the notebooks passed into the possession of heirs and then for many years were presumed lost. But they were rediscovered at the time of the Congo independence celebrations and have recently been edited. Their publication revealed something odd: while the notebook entry for his stay at Mowa records that the natives were angry at his writing-"They say I made strong medicine to kill their country"Stanley makes no mention of the burning of Shakespeare. 45 Perhaps, to heighten that general interest with which he was so concerned, he made up the story. He could have achieved his narrative effect with only two books: Shakespeare and the Bible. And had he professed to burn the latter to save his notebook, his readers would no doubt have been scandalized.


For our purposes, it doesn't matter very much if the story "really" happened. What matters is the role Shakespeare plays in it, a role at once central and expendable-and, in some obscure way, not just expendable but exchangeable for what really matters: the writing that more directly serves power. For if at moments we can convince ourselves that Shakespeare is the discourse of power, we should remind ourselves that there are usually other discourses-here the notes and vocabulary and maps-that are instrumentally far more important. Yet if we try then to convince ourselves that Shakespeare is marginal and untainted by power, we have Stanley's story to remind us that without Shakespeare we wouldn't have the notes. Of course, this is just an accident-the accident of the books' resemblance-but then why was Stanley carrying the book in the first place?


For Stanley, Shakespeare's theater had become a book, and the book in turn had become a genial companion, a talisman of civility, a source not of salutary anxiety but of comfort in adversity. The anxiety in his account-and it is not salutary-is among the natives, and it is relieved only when, as Caliban had hoped, the book is destroyed. But the destruction of one book only saves another, more practical, more deadly. And when he returned to London or New York, Stanley could always buy another copy (Chandos edition) of his genial companion.




Chapter 5. Martial Law in the Land of Cockaigne


1. "First Sermon on the Lord's Prayer," in The Works of Hugh Latimer, 2 vols., ed. George Elwes Corrie, Parker Society (Cambridge: Cambridge Universi ty Press, 1844), 1: 335. Though her mother was a nearrela tion of Ca therine of Aragon, the duchess of Suffolk was a staunch Protestant who went into exile during the reign of Mary Tudor.


Latimer's rhetorical occasion for relating this story is an odd one: he is commenting on the appropriateness of addressing God as "our father," since God "hath a fatherly and loving affection towards us, far passing the love of bodily parents to their children." Latimer then cites a passage from Isaiah in which the prophet asks rhetorically, in speaking of God's love, "Can a wife forget the child of her womb, and the son whorn she hath borne?" Isaiah uses the image of a wife, Latimer rernarks, "because women most commonly are more affected towards their children than men be." He then recalls with horror that under the devil's influence some women have in fact killed their own children, but he warns his listeners not to believe every story of this kind that they hear. And he proceeds to support this warning with the story of the Cambridge woman.


2. Alternatively, we might say that Latimer occupies a peculiarly intermediate position, anticipating that occupied by the players: at once free and constrained, the strutting master of the scene and the social inferior, the charismatic object of intense cathexis and the embodirnent of dependence.


3. The closest parallel, I suppose, would be nocturnal emissions, about which there is a substantial literature in the Middle Ages and early modern period, but I am not sure a story about them would have been suitable for the duchess of Suffolk.


4. The gap is, at this point, a very small one, and on her release from prison the woman may well have been sent back to her husband. Latimer does not bother to say, presumably because the wornan's fate was irrelevant to his homiletic point.


5. Though the justification for a transfer (as opposed to a sirnple elimination) is left vague, perhaps to spare the sensibility of the duchess of Suffolk, Latimer may believe that for some tirne after childbirth the woman's body is tainted-hence "a green woman," as in green or tainted meat-and that in the interest of public health she should not be permitted contact, in particular sexual contact, with others. Or perhaps he Simply believes that a woman still weakened from the ordeal of childbirth-hence a different meaning for "green woman," as in a green or fresh woundshould be spared the normal demands on her energies.


6. See similarly Spenser's account of Duessa (Faerie Queene 1.8-46-48). There are many medical as well as literary and theological reflections on the innate filthiness of women.


7. The sermon is probably not a source for Measure for Measure, though it is intriguing that another, more famous, sermon by Latimer-the first of the "Sermons on the Card"-includes an emblematic story that bears a certain resemblance to Shakespeare's play. The king in Latimer's fable accepts into his favor "a mean man," "not because this person hath of himself deserved any such favour, but that the king casteth this favour unto him of his own mere motion and fantasy." The man thus favored is appointed "the chief captain and defender of his town of Calais," but he treacherously violates his trust (The Works of Hugh Latimer 1:4-5).


8. Although one can readily imagine a detached response to a Shakespearean comedy, such a response would signal the failure of the play to please or a refusal of the pleasure the play was offering.


9. This is, however, only a working distinction, to mark an unstable, shifting relation between anxiety and pleasure. Anxiety and pleasure are not the same, but they are not simple opposites. Anxiety in the presence of real bodies put at real risk is a source of pleasure for at least some of the spectators, whereas in the theater pleasure in imaginary situations is not entirely unmixed with (and does not entirely absorb and transform) anxiety. Even if we discount the rhetorical exaggerations of that anxiety in a literary criticism that often speaks of the excruciating pain and difficulty of spectators hip (or reading), we must acknowledge that Shakespeare often arouses considerable anxiety. Still, we must also acknowledge that for the collective body of spectators the ratio of anxiety to pleasure in the theater was likely to have differed from that outside its walls.


10. Theatrical anxiety must not only give pleasure in the theater but generate a longing for the theater in those who have left its precincts. If large numbers of potential spectators feel they can get what they need in other places, they will not take the trouble to return. The point is obvious but still worth remarking, since we are likely to forget, first, that Elizabethan and Jacobean public theaters had extremely large capacities (as high as two thousand spectators) and hence expected to draw substantial crowds and, second, that it was by no means simple to attend most of the theaters. A trip to the Globe took a good part of the day and involved considerable expense, including transportation by boat and refreshments. The theater had to contrive to make potential spectators think, and think frequently, "I wish I were at the theater." To do so, it could advertise through playbills and processions, but it could also count on deep associations: that is, certain anxieties would remind one of the theater where those same anxieties were turned to the service of pleasure.


11. The very point of theatrical anxiety may be that it is not "real"-that is, we are not threatened, there are no consequences in the real world to fortune or station or life, and so forth. But this formulation is at best only a half-truth, since at the level of feelings it is not always so easy to distinguish between the anxiety generated by a literary experience and the anxiety generated by events in one's own life.


12. He does, however, in some sense tell the story for his hearers' pleasure as well as instruction, and I think it is important to resist making too sharp a distinction between the purely theatrical uses of anxiety and the uses elsewhere in the culture. The distinction is practical and relative: no less important for that, but not to be construed as a theoretical necessity.


I}. His strategy may also derive from a late-medieval clerical preoccupation with the distinction between attrition and contrition. The former was a change in behavior caused by the buffets of fortune and the hope of escaping punishment through a prudent repentance; the latter was a more authentic repentance rooted not in calculation but in grief. Latimer may have felt that only when the woman was at the point of death could she experience a genuine contrition. I discuss below an instance of this dis tinetion in Measure for Measure.


14. It is worth reflecting on the implications of this casual remark: "the people" appear to believe that there is an inverse relation between the severity of the punishment and the heinousness of the crime.


15. For an account of the scene, see Catherine Drinker Bowen, The Lion and the Throne: The Life and Times of Sir Edward Coke (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1956), pp. 220-22.


16. For the text of James's letter, see Letters of King James VI and I, ed. G. P. V. Akrigg (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), pp. 21819


17. James himself was one of the most notoriously anxious monarchs in British history, and with good reason. In the event, his son, as well as his mother and father, met a violent end.


18. Dudley Carleton's letter, dated December 11, 160}, is reprinted in Thomas Birch, The Court and Times of James the First, 2 vols. (London: Henry Colburn, 1849), 1:27-}2. Carleton suggests that Sir Walter Ralegh, who had also been convicted in the Bye Plot, was the particular object of the king's techniques of anxiety arousal. Ralegh was to be executed on the following Monday and was watching the scene on the scaffold from a window in his cell. "Raleigh, you must think," writes Carleton, "had hammers working in his head, to beat out the meaning of this strategem" (31). In a comparable last-minute reprieve, James suspended Ralegh's execution as well; Ralegh was kept prisoner (and was considered to be legally dead) for thirteen years until, in the wake of the Guiana fiasco, he was executed (technically on the original charge from 1603) in 1618.


19. Their popularity as spectacle suggests that the fear was to some degree pleasurable to the onlookers, whether, as Hobbes argued, because they delighted in not being themselves the victims or, as official spokesmen claimed, because the horror was produced by a higher order whose interests it served. In either case, the experience, it was assumed, would make the viewers more obedient subjects.


20. Quoted in my Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), p. 1O}.


21. Durandus of St. Pourc;ain, quoted in Thomas N. Tentler, Sin and Confession on the Eve of the Reformation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977), p. 251. Tentler observes that this psychologizing of the distinction is not characteristic of the medieval summae for confessors; the crucial distinction rather was between sorrow that was imperfect and sorrow that had been formed by grace and hence was perfect. In either case the limitation-and perhaps the cunning-of the distinction is that it is virtually impossible to establish with any confidence.


22. Recall Carleton's description of the expression on the faces of the Bye Plot conspirators as they were assembled together on the scaffold.


23. On the significance of pardon as a strategy in Renaissance monarchies, see Natalie Zemon Davis, Fiction in the Archives (Stanford: Stanford University Press, forthcoming). Davis's wonderful book, which she graciously allowed me to read in manuscript, shows that the system of pardons in France generated a remarkable range of narratives. Though the English legal system differed in important ways from the French, pardon played a significant, if more circumscribed, role. Shakespeare seems to have deliberately appropriated for The Tempest the powerful social energy of princely pardons.


24. In this regard Prospero resembles less a radical reformer like Latimer than a monarch like Queen Elizabeth: a ruler who abjured the complete inquisitorial control of the inner life and settled when necessary for the outward signs of obedience.


For a brilliant discussion of Prospero's relations with Antonio, see the introduction to the Oxford Shakespeare edition of The Tempest, ed. Stephen Orgel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987). Throughout this chapter, I have profited from Orgel's introduction, which he kindly showed me in advance of its publication.


25. I am trying to resist here the proposition that Latimer's story is the actual practice that is then represented in works of art, and hence that in it we encounter the basis in reality of theatrical fictions. Even if we assume that the events in Cambridge occurred exactly as Latimer related themand this is a large assumption based on a reckless act of faith-those events seem saturated with narrative conventions. It is not only that Latimer lives his life as if it were material for the stories he will tell in his sermons but that the actions he reports are comprehensible only if already fashioned into a story.


26. On Strachey's career, see S. G. Culliford, William Strachey, 15721621 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1965). See also Charles Richard Sanders, "William Strachey, the Virginia Colony, and Shakespeare," Virginia Magazine 57 (1949): 115-}2. Sanders notes that "many of the eighteenth and nineteenth century Stracheys became servants of the East India Company" (118).


27. William Strachey, in Samuel Purchas, Hakluytus Posthumus or PI!;chas His Pilgrimes, 20 vols. (Glasgow: James Maclehose and Sons, 1905-7), 19:5-72. It seems worth remarking the odd coincidence between this circumstance and Latimer's presenting his sermon also to a noble lady. Men in this period often seem to shape their experiences in the world to present them as instruction or entertainment to powerfully placed ladies. The great Shakespearean exploration of this social theme is Othello.


28. On joint-stock companies in the early modern period, see William Robert Scott, The Constitution and Finance of English, Scottish, and Irish JointStock Companies to 1720, 3 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1912). On the theater and the marketplace, see the excellent book by JeanChristophe Agnew, Worlds Apart: The Market and the Theater in AngloAmerican Thought, 1550-1750 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986).


29. Indeed the demand for such connections, a dernand almost always frustrated in the early modern period, has strengthened the case for the formalist isolation of art.


30. Charles Mills Gayley, Shakespeare and the Founders of Liberty in America (New York: Macmillan, 1917); William Strachey, The Historie of Travell into Virginia Britania (1612), ed. Louis B. Wright and Virginia Freund, Hakluyt Society 2d seT., no. 10} (London, 195}), p. xix.


31. Detestation of the sailors is a common theme in the travel literature of the period. One of the strongest elements of an elitist utopia in The Tempest is the fantasy that the sailors will in effect be put to sleep for the duration of the stay on the island, to be awakened only to labor on the return voyage.


32. Quoted in the introduction to The Historie of Travell into Virginia Britania, p. xxv.


33. I quote these lines because they may have caught Shakespeare's attention: "What have we here?" asks Trinculo, catching sight of Caliban, "a man or a fish? dead or alive? A fish, he smells like a fish" (2.2.24-26). Prospero in exasperation calls Caliban a tortoise (1.2.}16).


34. The promotional literature written on behalf of the Virginia Company prior to the voyage of 1609 makes it clear that there was already widespread talk in England about the hardships of the English colonists. No one on the Sea Venture is likely to have harbored any illusions about conditions at Jamestown.


35. The office of governor was created by the royal charter of 1609. The governor replaced the council president as the colony's chief executive. He was granted the right to "correct and punishe, pardon, go verne, and rule all such the subjects of us ... as shall from time to time adventure themselves ... thither," and he was empowered to impose martial law in cases of mutiny or rebellion (quoted in The Three Charters of the Virginia Company of London, with Seven Related Documents, 1606-1621, ed. S. F. Bemiss, Jamestown 350th Anniversary Historical Booklet 4 [Williamsburg, Va., 1957], p. 52). See Warren M. Billings, "The Transfer of English Law to Virginia, 1606-1650," in The Westward Enterprise: English Activities in Ireland, the Atlantic, and America, 1480-1650, ed. K. R. Andrews, N. P. Canny, and P. E. H. Hair (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1978), pp. 214ff.


36. Leaving the island is not in itself, as is sometimes claimed, an abjuration of colonialism: as we have seen in the case of Bermuda, the enforced departure from the island signals the resumption of the colonial enterprise. On the other hand, insofar as The Tempest conflates the Berrnuda and Virginia materials, the departure for Italy-and by implication England-would necessitate abandoning the absolute rule that had been established under martial law .


37. The noblemen's pride is related to the gentlemanly refusal to work that the leaders of the Virginia Company bitterly complained about. The English gentlemen in Jamestown, it was said, preferred to die rather than lift a finger to save themselves. So too when the boatswain urges Antonio and Sebastian to get out of the way or to work, Antonio answers, "We are less afraid to be drown'd than thou art" (1.1.44-45).


38. For acute observations on the parallels with Sycorax, see Stephen Orgel, "Prospero's Wife," Representations 8 (1985): I-I}; among the many essays on Caliban is one of my own: "Learning to Curse: Aspects of Linguistic Colonialism in the Sixteenth Century," in First Images of America:


The Impact of the New World on the Old, 2 vols., ed. Fredi Chiappelli (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976),2:561-80.


39 Quoted in Nicholas Canny, "The Permissive Frontier: The Problem of Social Control in English Settlements in Ireland and Virginia, 15501650," in The Westward Enterprise, p. }6.


40. William Crashaw, A sermon preached in London before the right honorable the Lord Lawarre, Lord Governour and Captaine Generall of Virginia ... at the said Lord Generall his leave taking of England ... and departure for Virginea, Febr. 21, 1609 (London, 1610), pp. HIV-Hu. The British Library has a copy of Strachey's Lawes Diuine, Morall and Martiall with a manuscript inscription by the author to Crashaw; see Sanders, "William Strachey, the Virginia Colony, and Shakespeare," p. 121.


41. William Strachey, For the Colony in Virginea Britannia. Lawes Diuine, Morall and Martiall, &c. (London: Walter Burre, 1612), in Peter Force, Tracts and Other Papers, Relating Principally to the Origin, Settlement, and Progress of the Colonies in North America, from the Discovery to the Year 1776, 4 vols. (Washington, D.C., 18}6-46), }:67.


42. In our century the market for Shakespeare as book has come to focus increasingly upon adolescents in colleges and universities who are assigned expensive texts furnished with elaborate critical introductions and editorial apparatus. On the ideological implications of Shakespeare in the curriculum, see Alan Sinfield, "Give an account of Shakespeare and Education, showing why you think they are effective and what you have appreciated about them. Support your comments with precise references," in Political Shakespeare: New Essays in Cultural Materialism, ed. Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985), pp. 1}4-57


43. But if Shakespeare's works have become a fetish, they are defined for their possessors not by their magical power to command but by their freedom from the anxieties of rule. They are the emblems of cultivation, civility, recreation, but they are not conceived of as direct agents in the work of empire.


44. Henry M. Stanley, Through the Dark Continent, 2 vols. (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1878), 2:384-86. I owe this story to Walter Michaels, who found it quoted by William James in a footnote. James's interest was aroused by what he saw as primitive literalism. The natives' oral culture makes it impossible for them to understand writing. They cannot distinguish between books that are reproducible and books that are unique, or for that matter between fiction and field notes, and because of this inability they cannot identify what was at least the immediate threat to their culture. In making the book a fetish they fail to make the necessary distinction between fantasy and truth, a distinction whose origins reside in texts like The Tempest, that is, in texts that thematize a difference between the island of art and the mainland of reality.


It is difficult to gauge how much of this analysis is only James's own fantasy. The natives may not actually have been incapable of making such a distinction. It is interesting, in this regard, that they are said to be carrying muskets, so there must already have been a history of involvement with Arabs or Europeans, a history that Stanley, making much of his role as explorer, represses. It is noteworthy too that as Stanley warms to his story, his natives increasingly speak in the racist idiom familiar from movies like King Kong: "M-m. No, no, no." And it is also possible, as I have already suggested, to see in Stanley the actual fetishism of the book: the attribution of power and value and companionship to the dead letter. In Stanley's reverie Shakespeare becomes a friend who rnust be sacrificed (as Stanley seems prepared to sacrifice Safeni) to protect the colonial project. Shakespeare is thus indispensable in two ways-as a consolation in the long painful trials of empire and as a deceptive token of exchange.


45. The Exploration Diaries of H. M. Stanley, ed. Richard Stanley and Alan Neame (New York: Vanguard Press, 1961), p. 187. Many of the journal entries that Stanley professes to transcribe in Through the Dark Continent are in fact invented: "The so-called 'extracts from my diary' in Through the Dark Continent," the editors remark, "are hardly more than a device for varying the typeface, for they are quite as deliberately composed as the rest of the narrative" (xvi). I should add that the day after the burning of his" genial companion," Stanley lost his close friend and associate Frank Pocock, who drowned when his canoe overturned. There is an odd sense of a relation between the loss of these two friends, as if Stanley viewed the burning of the one and the drowning of the other as linked sacrifices for the cause of empire.