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Noises in the Isle: Revisiting Echoes of Shakespeare’s Tempest

Catherine Lanone
p. 217-228


The Tempest est une pièce emblématique, où les chants d’Ariel, ineffable tissu de voix, semblent, selon Tom McCarthy, préfigurer l’invention de la radio. On abordera ici quelques-unes des métamorphoses intertextuelles contemporaines, pour voir comment les échos de la pièce permettent de négocier rebellion et culpabilité, à travers d’abord une pièce radiophonique d’Angela Carter, jouant sur le vertige synesthésique pour convoquer non seulement Shakespeare mais aussi avant tout Richard Dadd, le peintre victorien devenu parricide, et les toiles étrangement fascinantes peintes dans la folie. Toujours la petite musique d’Ariel se fait entendre, comme elle hante les derniers poèmes de Ted Hughes, revisitant ceux de Sylvia Plath, avec la lancinante figure du père et les images shakespeariennes obsédantes. Voyage vers l’ombre et la hantise de la perte, les poèmes de Hughes s’écartent de la vision du shaman qu’il défend dans sa critique mythique, pour trouver des accents plus intimes et inattendus.

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  • 1 She was rewarded by being awarded an honorary BAFTA award.
  • 2 I thank Natacha Seneviratne for bringing this to my attention.

1In 2012, Danny Boyle’s pageant opening the Olympics celebrated iconic images of England, from the pastoral island and the Queen performing feats with James Bond to the NHS. The unexpected concession of the Queen to spectacular media1 was a sign of the nation uniting for the event, as if re-enacting the dramatic sense of togetherness achieved during the Blitz, as suggested by the statue of Churchill waving its stick as the Queen flew with James Bond overhead—or so would the cinematic magic of Danny Boyle have us believe. The pageant was greeted worldwide as the epitome of Britain and British humour, and praised for recalling tradition while avoiding elitism, all but silencing opponents of the Olympics such as Iain Sinclair (Sinclair saw the whole Olympic show as a smokescreen hiding Britain’s economic difficulties and the stadium as a dubious addition to London). Shakespeare was bound to feature in Boyle’s show, but whereas everyone may have expected Gaunt’s speech from Richard II, England as a precious stone set in the silver sea, Boyle opted for Caliban’s speech in The Tempest, "Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises" (3.2.133). The speech was delivered by Kenneth Branagh, an actor and director well-known for his Shakespearian film adaptations. In Boyle’s pageant, The Tempest functions as an ambiguous allusion troping the blessed isle’s nightmarish inversion from pastoral to industrial. Branagh plays the part of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the engineer of transport and railways. Branagh’s beaming Brunel takes centre stage, an embodiment of smug Victorian middle-class values and belief in technology. He holds his book, here presumably an account book, close to his chest, not the book of magic relinquished and drowned by Prospero. The great chimneys of industry begin to sprout, erasing the traces of the pastoral island. A celebration that can be read against the grain, the scene is part of the complex legacy of the Tempest, both canonical and subversive. It is interesting to notice that, almost simultaneously, the 2012 docu-drama Tempest, directed by Rob Curry and Anthony Fletcher, seeks to explore a less glamorous London, by filming a group of teenagers who reluctantly rehearse for a performance of The Tempest, to portray problematic literary legacy, urban violence and identity. Much has been said about postcolonial rewritings of The Tempest, from Aimé Césaire onwards, exploring and revisioning the implications of the rebellious character of Caliban, the monster and "thing of darkness" whom Prospero is forced to acknowledge as his (5.1.275). In this paper we wish to focus on a narrower issue, the way in which contemporary intertextual allusions from Angela Carter to Ted Hughes2 revisit the problematic relationship between Prospero, Ariel and Caliban as metaphors for desire, repression and an unresolved conflict with the father, as well as cultural legacy.

2One of the most haunting echoes of The Tempest is the return of the motif of the drowned body, with "pearls that were his eyes" (1.2.399), in T.S. Eliot’s 1922 modernist manifesto, The Waste Land. The lines are part of the cultural flotsam and jetsam shored against ruin and woven into the poem as metonymies of the great literary legacy, lost fragments that can never be pieced together, in a dual movement of fragmentation and retrieval, loss and radical innovation. For experimental writer Tom McCarthy, the poem, famously composed of a plurality of voices, is akin to a radio system, as the poet tunes in and out of frequencies; and Caliban’s famous speech about the isle being full of noises offers a paradigm for intertextuality which strangely foreshadows our modern world, where radio systems constantly broadcast a cacophony of billowing voices:3 "it seems to me that with modern communications’ technology this becomes true, it’s not some fantasy […] it turns the air into a psychic space […] with radio it’s true, there are voices." Angela Carter’s 1979 radio play Come Unto These Yellow Sands chooses to collect such billowing fragments, to use McCarthy’s image. The play is a burlesque assemblage of voices, mingling genres: the professor’s lecture (here delivered by Oberon), the witnesses’ accounts (the painter Frith, Sir Thomas Phillips, Dadd’s companion during the fateful Oriental journey, Dadd’s father, Crazy Jane, doctors), a mock trial or examination of a medical case, a radio programme (complete with embedded radio announcer), an address to an unruly audience composed of goblins and fairies to begin with, to which are later added various allegories despatched by Puck to front rows or back rows, which include a long list of "Pre-Christian survivals, fertility symbols" (23) and "emanations of the id" or "apparitions from the subconscious" (22-23): "[…] death-signs, stormwarnings, to the left. Œdipal fantasies into the front row, please." (23) The playful pastiche adds to the island’s noises the hubbub, "Squeaks, gibbers, objects being thrown" of the troublesome audience, cheering or babbling throughout the play. As Michelle Ryan-Sautour points out, "Carter’s appropriation of Shakespeare is often one of carnivalesque frolic." (Ryan-Sautour 109) Angela Carter is an iconoclastic writer, who seeks to debunk here both the clichés of psychoanalysis, the conventions of textual politics, the ideological value ascribed to Shakespeare’s plays as part of a canon, and the Victorian bowdlerization and appropriation of Shakespeare. The radio play is a patchwork of echoes, but its most daring feat is an attempt at synaesthesia through ekphrasis. Carter believes in radio’s ability to conjure up three-dimensional pictures: "Yet, as with all forms of story-telling that are composed in words, not in visual images, radio always leaves that magical and enigmatic margin, that space of the invisible, which must be filled in by the imagination of the listener." (Carter 7) Thus, as Charlotte Crofts puts it, she "celebrates the elasticity of the medium," playing on open-ended collage and montage, to achieve "aural hallucination" (Crofts 22-23).4 The play revisits Richard Dadd’s paintings; in the published version, reproductions of the paintings are inserted; in the radio play, of course, no such thing is possible, and so listeners must rely on descriptions, delivered by a male and a female narrator, or by the depicted characters themselves, such as Puck or Titania. Descriptions allow a running commentary not simply on Dadd’s journey into madness, but of Victorian society as a time of repression, so that the murder of the father is construed not so much as personal deed of revenge than as the backlash against social repression. Guido Almansi reads the radio play as being "heavily conditioned by the ideology of the sixties," including views of Victorian repression. (Almansi 228) In the eponymous painting, Dadd adds to the scene conjured up by Ariel a "wild saraband on a deserted beach, at evening" (Carter 25). The whirling, scantily clad elves and fairies file past, flying then dancing across the beach, through a wide stone arch. The commentary takes the scene as an example of Victorian sublimation:

The pleasures of the flesh, rendered unsubstantial as dreams.
The rising moon applies a coat of mother o’ pearl to the ambiguously sexed beings. Half the eldritch company float in a great curlicue upon the air, immune to gravity, while the leaders of the dance pass through an arch of rock as through the eye of a needle. (25)

3Such immaterial substance is indeed "such stuff / As dreams are made on" (4.1.156-7), materializing both Ariel’s magic and Victorian fantasies. The play harps on the contradiction between Victorian prudishness and the exposure of naked bodies sanctified by the translucent dual alibi of fairy tale and Shakespearian intertext.

4But the image of the fairy through the eye of the needle brings to mind implicitly the saying about the camel going through the needle’s eyes, and the pleasure principle immediately clashes with the reality principle, as Dadd travels to the yellow sands of the Orient. At Damascus, a camel blocking the way is hacked to pieces, an image of unbearable dismemberment which functions as the trigger for Dadd’s madness, but also implicitly for the return of cruelty, a reverse model of the colonial practice not of "civilizing," but of hacking countries to pieces and appropriating them for colonial purpose. The heat of sunstroke may drive Dadd mad, but so does the patriarchal system of Victorian repression. Dadd becomes a social monster, yet the doctors probing into the paintings he keeps producing after being locked up in Bethlem Hospital can find few clues, if any, to his madness. The violence lurking in Shakespeare’s plays (brother against brother or, in the case of Caliban, surrogate son against father figure) is unleashed, let loose, with no hope of either containment or explanation: sentenced to the asylum for the rest of his life, Dadd remains apparently sane yet as mad as when he committed the murder called for, perhaps, by his name. The doctors are no Prospero capable of restoring order, of fostering reconciliation: they act too little and too late. Carter’s Dadd is a scapegoat, fostered by the Victorian system of representation, as "Oberon" suggests:

In this pre-sexual fairyland, dreams may indeed come true. (He’s working up to a lecturer’s joke.) And I need hardly remind our Œdipal friends here in the front row what happens when dreams come true in reality! (24)

5Murder comes as the return of the repressed. Playing with psychoanalytical concepts, Carter moves away from the Œdipal model to propose a wider, sociological reading. Just as Shakespeare’s Tempest, in Boyle’s pageant, becomes the degraded alibi for the Industrial Revolution, here Orientalism is born from the wealthy, emergent middle-class’s taste for escapism:

It looked at the smoky evidence of the Industrial Revolution that had nurtured its prosperity and turned away its face. These rich dissatisfied men and women saw the world they had made in their own image and they did not like it, although they depended on it to stay alive. (31)

6But the effort is too great and is soon replaced by emissaries like Dadd, who allows middle-class people to enjoy the splendours of the East vicariously, via normative watercolours, "without stirring a step from their drawing-rooms" (32). Angela Carter’s play, here, seems to apply Said’s concept of Orientalism (Said’s ground-breaking book was published in 1978).

  • 5 "These form a motley audience held in trance-like immobility witnessing the Fairy Feller’s prowess (...)

7The play soon shifts from initial signs of madness to the actual murder of the father, and without dwelling on the deed returns to Dadd’s masterpiece, The Fairy-Feller’s Master Stroke, describing at length both the composition of the painting, the shifting sense of scale, the multiplicity of tiny characters,5 the thick relief of the surface compared to Braille for the blind, an echo of the tragic blindness of hallucination and murder. Above all, the scene remains still, forever waiting for the axe to fall:

And yet a frozen calm holds all the weird actors still. The picture offers a scene from a narrative just before the conclusion; it illustrates a story that has not begun and therefore cannot end, it tells an anecdote the point of which is never made. (46)

8The ensuing fairies’ babble mediates affect for the actual listener of the radio play, emphasizing the baffling aspect of the painting which resists all interpretation and precludes closure, with its focal character forever about to let his axe drop. Carter’s "frozen time" corresponds to what Davoine and Gaudillière call the frozen time of trauma, a compulsion to endlessly revisit and mentally repeat the breaking-point, a hallucinatory inability to move on.

9We are tempted to see, in this gesture, the exact opposite of Prospero letting his magic staff fall, breaking it to renounce power and re-enter humanity. The axe that falls can never bring reconciliation, it is always the deed which, like Macbeth’s murder, can never be undone.

10And if the scene, like Prospero’s island, is full of noises, with the cackles and cry of the audience, the lines themselves bring back floating echoes of Shakespeare’s text: the famous picture of the wide-eyed Dadd actually painting The Fairy-Feller’s Master Stroke, a photograph taken in the asylum, recalls Ariel’s song: "His eyes, opaque, as if they had been put out by pearls" (44), while madness also revisits the image of the father drowning full fathom five, in this deceptive tale told by Ariel to Ferdinand, concealing the fact that the father is actually safe. In this version, the father is not safe but long dead, and the son who has killed him drowns in turn:

FEMALE NARRATOR. He soon resumed painting. But his work suffered a sea change. As if his delusion were an ocean in which he had drowned, full fathom five—or, more deeply still; drowned, fathom upon fathom, lost to us more profoundly than if he had been dead in an abyss of loss, the cruellest of all losses, the loss of reason. (39)

11Pathos, which may seem sentimental, is counterbalanced by the carnivalesque patchwork of voices, turning Victorian England into the equivalent of Eliot’s "Waste Land," a barren place where the vulnerable may drown. For all the obvious comedy there is something haunting in those paintings struck by the curse of "magical petrification […] frozen in time at the moment the blow was struck" (Carter 39). Through synaesthesia, the listener is called upon to see (whether to remember or to imagine) those distorted images that reveal, like a glass darkly, the other side of Victorian bowdlerizing. Whitewashing Shakespeare into a fairy-tale island of magic and innocence is here shown to lead to the curse of repression and the scapegoat’s failure to perform Ariel’s and Prospero’s reconciliation, in a world where Ferdinand never meets Miranda. Angela Carter thus uses the Tempest as a reservoir of myth that may be used to demystify Victorian repression, but also highlight Œdipal and social repression.

  • 6 For David Birrell, this electrifying shamanistic study turns Hughes into the "witness to the apocal (...)
  • 7 David Golz, "Diamonds, Maidens, Widow Dido, and Cock-a-diddle-dow," Comparative Drama, Vol. 43 n°2, (...)

12Ted Hughes also returns to The Tempest to explore trauma and a variation on Œdipal attachment, its feminine analogon, the Electra complex, the girl’s attachment for the father. But Hughes’ own reading of The Tempest is ghosted by repression too. In his formidable, almost six-hundred-page long study of Shakespeare’s work, entitled Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being, published in 1992, Hughes reinvents himself as a literary critic and runs against the grain of post-structuralist criticism (not to mention Derridean deconstruction in its prime), to offer an inclusive model of all of Shakespeare’s works, which he calls the "tragic equation:" two myths, emblematized by two poems, Venus and Adonis and Lucrece, correspond for him to the contemporary struggle between the Catholic and the Protestant religions. Hughes’ writing is forceful and seeks to offer, if not Casaubon’s key to all mythologies, at least a syncretic palimpsest which descends from Robert Graves’s The White Goddess and Northrop Frye’s reading of literary archetypes, a study which may baffle the reader.6 The Tempest, for instance, is presented as a tale of usurpation and potential revenge, where Prospero’s usurping brother is a composite, "Antonio/Alonso/Sebastian" (Hughes 1992, 458). Hughes lays emphasis on the Masque and the figures of Juno, Ceres and Iris; Caliban is cannibal and Polyphemus, but above all the archetypal "boar." Sycorax becomes "Tiamart-Astarte-Venus-the Queen of Hell/Persephone-Sycorax (Dido)" (Hughes 1992, 478), the queen of the “archaic pagan world” (478); and when Ariel enters as a Harpy, he becomes the voice of the great Goddess too. Beyond literary analysis, in the alchemical melting pot of Hughes’ argument, what emerges is not so much "the goddess of complete being" as Dido, the abandoned woman, whom Hughes associates both with Sycorax and Miranda: "I have tried to indicate the evidence which more than suggests, to my mind, that the ur-tragedy behind The Tempest is the story of Dido, the beloved rejected by Aeneas—who is the classic shamanic figure, composite of all his predecessors, son and beloved of the Great Goddess (rejector of the Great Goddess as Dido) founder of the Roman Empire." (Hughes 1992, 485) Yet in The Tempest, Dido is merely (and comically) alluded to as "the widow Dido," in a brief dialogue between Antonio and Sebastian. The allusion to the Aeneid may add a more epic dimension to the shipwreck and raise the shadow of the peril of abandonment as far as Miranda is concerned, but all doubts are quickly dispelled by Ferdinand’s personality as he undergoes Prospero’s test; David Golz suggests that the strange phrase "widow Dido" is in fact merely used to create a sound echo to the refrain of Ariel’s "Come Unto these Yellow Sands" song.7 The way in which Hughes hinges his whole argument on this allusion reveals perhaps as much about Hughes as it does about Shakespeare’s work. Indeed, the preface to the whole book strays briefly, for a couple of pages, from Shakespeare to discuss Sylvia Plath’s use of myth, again positing two myths that become fused, Phaeton and Icarus, encapsulated by "Ariel" and by "Sheep in Fog" (Hughes 1992, 45). Strangely enough, Hughes does not connect "Ariel" here with the Tempest, and the reference remains submerged, even though it surfaces through the return of the "full fathom five" phrase, like a musical key to absent discourse: "Clearly, by these point in her career those two myths, her early obsessions, had lost their Greek settings, their name, gone down the full five fathoms, and had become the expressive symbols of her soul’s story." (Hughes 1992, 46) The brief shift from Shakespeare to Plath is a significant slippage, revealing what the book is attempting to negotiate: the silence surrounding personal tragedy, as much as the neat tragic formula solving all of Shakespeare’s plays. Speaking through the mask of criticism rather than about the Masque of The Tempest, Hughes is seeking for a crossing towards the unspeakable. He soon finds it, not by inhabiting Shakespeare’s text, but by ghosting Plath’s poems, revisiting the myth of Narcissus and Echo, so that they both play the myth of Narcissus and he becomes the echoing voice lost in the Minotaur’s labyrinth seeking, if not atonement or working through, the liberation of mourning, at least an impossible thread, embracing poetry to find a way through the past.

13The Tempest was the first play that Plath saw, and she entwines two of her most powerful poems with Shakespeare’s play. For Taina Tuhkunen-Couzic, Plath thus seeks to resist being positioned only in the tradition of female writers. (Tuhkunen-Couzic 1296) The eponymous swift horse Ariel owes much to Prospero’s spirit Ariel, just as Plath entitles one poem, about the memory of the father (surfacing dangerously, Poseidon-like, from the sea of subconscious souvenirs), "Full Fathom Five." Just as "Ariel"’s exhilarating ride also leads, "suicidal," straight into the red eye of the sun at dawn, "Full Fathom Five" ends with the poet’s persona longing to "breathe water."

14Published in 1998, "Birthday Letters" is a collection of poems that, for the first time, addresses Hughes’ relationship with Plath and tragedy directly. And the journey is an elegiac, stormy one:

[…] Once, as we bent there, I asked:
'Shall we be famous?' and you snatched your hand upwards
As if something had grabbed you from under.
Your tears flashed, your face was contorted.
Your voice cracked, it was thunder and flash together: (Hughes 1998, 55)

15The poem is entitled "Ouija," a metapoetic mise en abyme of Hughes’ attempt to recall Plath’s voice and presence through poetry. But the true prophecy comes not from the spirits that manifest themselves via the Ouija board but from Plath herself, aware that fame will bring disaster. The repetition of "flash" revisits the Keatsian topos of melancholy (looking deep into the lover’s angry eyes) and may act as a metaphor for the flash of presence recalled by each poem, before the shadow vanishes again, in the manner of Eurydice. For Erica Wagner, Birthday Letters reveals the "ecstasy of influence," an unexpected collection published in the last year of Hughes’life, "one of the most intimate and personal collections of poetry ever written" (Wagner 2). In "St Botolph’s," the scene of first encounter strays from the criteria defined by Jean Rousset in Leurs yeux se rencontrèrent; it is marred by the presence of a girlfriend in tow, yet the vividness of love at first sight is there, through the metaphor of the photograph printed in the mind, as it were, by full stops ("First sight. First snapshot isolated / Unalterable, stilled in the camera glare" (Hughes 1998, 15). The topos of missed opportunity, in the manner of Hardy, harps on the speaker’s own inability to see ("As if I saw you that once, then never again") while the "crush of diamonds" and the "crush of tears" lead from the simple crush (infatuation) to epiphany (suggested by the repetition of "joy"). But just as ominous as the red ring of Sylvia’s unconventional bite that marks his face (to his current girlfriend’s dismay) are the allusions to shipwreck (the hall becomes a silent film, "Like the tilting deck of the Titanic" 14) while The Tempest surfaces, not as a promise of trial, magic and reconciliation, but as an inverted reference to star-crossed lovers:

[…] I had predicted
Disastrous expense: a planetary
Certainty, according to Prospero’s book.
Jupiter and the full moon conjunct
Opposed Venus. Disastrous expense
According to that book. Especially for me. (14)

16The repetition acknowledges Hughes’ debt to Plath, but also his own pain, since he too will have to pay an exacting, impossible price. The Tempest is revisited, appropriated, as Prospero’s book becomes the almanac of disaster. For Neil Corcoran, the allusion to Prospero’s book suggests that "Hughes reads the relationship with Plath, at least in restrospect, as itself mythologically plotted or predestined" (Corcoran 232). In "Setebos," "a poem about portent" (Corcoran 233), Hughes delves into Shakespeare’s characters like a pack of cards that may be played at random:

Who could play Miranda?
Only you. Ferdinand—only me.
And it was like that, yes, it was like that. (132)

17The dash suggests a form of acknowledgement on the lover’s part, a strong connection confirmed by the affirmation, "yes," creating symmetrical balance in the middle of the line. But poise and fragile equilibrium are instantly disturbed by the casting of Plath’s mother as Prospero, and the sweet songs of Ariel create the lovers’ "aura" (a term which is repeated twice) but are inverted by Caliban’s "[reverting] to type." Hughes’ hair prickles when he hears "you" telling about being "freed from the elm" (a line which may allude to electric shocks in the asylum, and recalls the way in which Ariel was cursed by Sycorax and freed by Prospero). In turn, Hughes becomes a parodic Ariel: "I lay/In the labyrinth of a cowslip/Without a clue" (132-133). The ending blends the struggle between Sycorax and Prospero and the irruption of Otto, King Minos of the Minotaur:

[…] Which play
Were we in? Too late to find you
And get to my ship. The moon, off her moorings
Tossed in tempest. […] (133)

18The moon recalls the moon that is enmeshed in branches that let it go in Plath’s "Elm;" the tempest, here, connotes Hughes’ pain as he represents his own disorientation, after having failed to read the scenario of their lives. Neither Otto nor Aurelia Plath may function as Prospero (Prospero who endangers but ultimately shelters the ship of life). Hughes becomes one of the shipwrecked lesser characters in the tale:

[…] I heard your cries […]
‘Who has dismembered us,’ I crawled
Under a gabardine, hugging tight
All I could of me, hearing the cry
Now of hounds. (133)

19The comical scene (Trinculo hiding with Caliban from the storm) mingles with the later image of the hellish hounds (created by Ariel) to express loneliness, the poet trying to hold himself together as the world is ready to tear him to pieces (presumably the "hounds" refer to all those who entirely blamed Hughes for Plath’s death). Comic relief is replaced by an isolation stressed by the dwindling last line, severing connection both with Plath and the world. After "Sam," "Night-Ride on Ariel" rewrites Plath’s ecstatic poem "Ariel," as white noise and the "electrocuting moonlight" break the "failing flight," mingling Icarus and The Tempest:

As you clung to the sun—to the last
Shred of the exploding dawn
In your fist—

That Monday. (175)

20The blank line freezes time on the horrifying shred of time, the last moment. Thus, Hughes’ final, confessional dialogic collection of poems attempts to resume the conversation with Sylvia Plath. The poems are letters addressed to a lost lover, a gift for an anniversary, hoping to recreate, perhaps, a true birthday, to force Plath to rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes of loss.

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Almansi, Guido, "In the Alchemist’s Cave: Radio Plays", in Lorna Sage (ed.), Flesh and the Mirror, London: Virago, 1994, 216-229.

Carter, Angela, Come Unto These Yellow Sands, Newcastle upon Tyne: Bloodaxe books, 1985.

Corcoran, Neil, Shakespeare and the Modern Poet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Crofts, Charlotte, Anagrams of Desireu Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012.

Davoine Françoise and Jean-Max Gaudillière, History Beyond Trauma, trans. Susan Fairfield, New York: Other Press, 2004.

Eliot, T.S., Selected Poems, London: Faber & Faber, 1954.

Frye, Northrop, Anatomy of Criticism, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957.

Golz, David, "Diamonds, Maidens, Widow Dido, and Cock-a-diddle-dow", Comparative Drama, Vol. 43 n°2, Summer 2009, 167-196.

Graves, Robert, The White Goddess: a Historial Grammar of Poetic Myth [1948], New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013.

Hughes, Ted, Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being, New York: Barnes & Noble, 1992.

-----, Birthday Letters, London: Faber & Faber, 1998.

Maas, Jeremy, Jane Martineau, Pamela White Trimpe and Charlotte Gere, Victorian Fairy Painting, Royal Academy of Arts, London: Merrell Holberton, 1997

McCarthy, Tom, Interview., August 15, 2014.

Plath, Sylvia, The Collected Poems, New York: Harper Perennial, 1992.

Rousset Jean, Leurs yeux se rencontrèrent, Paris: José Corti, 1981.

Ryan-Sautour, Michelle, "Behind the Scenes of Sexual/Textual Politics in Angela Carter’s 'Overture and Incidental Music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream'", Journal of the Short Story in English, 51 Autumn 2008, 109-122.

Said, Edward, Orientalism, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978.

Shakespeare, William, The Tempest, Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 1994.

Tuhkunen-Couzic, Taina, Sylvia Plath : une écriture embryonnaire, Paris: L’Harmattan, 2002.

Wagner, Erica, Ariel’s Gift: Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and the Story of 'Birthday Letters', London: Faber & Faber, 2001.

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1 She was rewarded by being awarded an honorary BAFTA award.

2 I thank Natacha Seneviratne for bringing this to my attention.

3 Tom McCarthy (interview).

August 15, 2014. Transcription mine.

4 Crofts asked her students to draw the paintings described in the play, with striking differences, showing how subjective the responses to those "acoustic images" were. (Crofts 29-30)

5 "These form a motley audience held in trance-like immobility witnessing the Fairy Feller’s prowess in splitting a hazel nut with his axe." (Maas et al, 102)

6 For David Birrell, this electrifying shamanistic study turns Hughes into the "witness to the apocalyptic rupture of the Reformation" (Foreword x); the response of Shakespearian scholars was, needless to say, more subdued, as Birrell recalls in his foreword, blaming academic obtuseness. See Corcoran for an in-depth analysis of Hughes’portrayal of Shakespeare as shaman, and his connexion with, and distance from, traditional literary criticism.

7 David Golz, "Diamonds, Maidens, Widow Dido, and Cock-a-diddle-dow," Comparative Drama, Vol. 43 n°2, Summer 2009, 167-196.

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Bibliographical reference

Catherine Lanone, « Noises in the Isle: Revisiting Echoes of Shakespeare’s Tempest », Caliban, 52 | 2014, 217-228.

Electronic reference

Catherine Lanone, « Noises in the Isle: Revisiting Echoes of Shakespeare’s Tempest », Caliban [Online], 52 | 2014, Online since 22 April 2015, connection on 24 February 2020. URL : ; DOI :

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About the author

Catherine Lanone

Université Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle.

By this author

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Licence Creative Commons
Caliban – French Journal of English Studies est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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