Of Prospero's Magic, The Age Of Death In The Tempest

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Prospero’s Magic, the Age of Death and the 1610 Anthropocene
When Prospero -- the hero in William Shakespeare’s last play The Tempest -- buries his magical books near a cliff of an uninhabited island, he sings out the first song of the “Anthropocene” at the edge of the great globe. As the Duke of Milan, he and his daughter are exiled to the isolated island for 12 years, during which process he uses his magic to enslave the natives on the island, including “ a savage and deformed slave” -- Caliban (Shakespeare 3). One may argue that the master-slave relationship shows Shakespeare’s postcolonial reflection while others may think that this viewpoint takes too far from Shakespeare’s original intention. Steve Mentz, in his essay “Enter Anthropocene, c.1610,” interprets The Tempest through lenses of the 1610 …show more content…

The “Orbis Spike” specifies that the Anthropocene, as a geological epoch when human activities begin to take the dominant role in changing the earth in a global scale, starts at the year 1610 (Lewis and Maslin 171, 177). Mentz draws upon Lewis and Maslin’s “Defining the Anthropocene” and Prospero’s speeches from The Tempest to define “the Orbis Spike” as “an age of death” (2). In this essay, I will respond to Mentz 's essay with two passages from The Tempest to argue that the 1610 Anthropocene is indeed “an age of death” as Mentz proposed not only due to the depopulation of human especially the natives from the “New World”, but I will also add that human’s awareness on the limitation of the technology and inevitability of death both lead us to thinking about our position in the Anthropocene that we are the

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