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Ecological Aesthetics in Shakespeare’s The Tempest

   As a representative work of Shakespeare’s late stage, “The Tempest” covers a variety of supernatural elements such as magic and elves. In the play, Prospero, the Duke of Milan, is usurped by his younger brother Antonio because he is obsessed with research and careless about government affairs. Then Antonio expels Prospero and his three-year-old daughter from the palace. drifting. Twelve years later, King Alonzo of Naples sent his daughter to Tunisia for marriage, but encountered a sudden storm on the way back. The ship that Alonzo and his party took is not only a means of transportation, but also a miniature society including sailors, clowns and even princes and nobles. “The Tempest” is the wedge through which the drama unfolds. And “man” is the protagonist of the play, which revolves around the revenge and forgiveness of the protagonist Prospero. The ecological environment plays a huge role in the development of the plot in the play and the transformation of the protagonist Prospero’s character.
   In fact, ecological aesthetics is not just the study of the aesthetic state of balance between human beings, the ecological environment, and nature. Its research object is expanded to the ecological aesthetic state of people and society as well as people and themselves. The introduction of ecological aesthetics marks that human beings no longer look at the world with narrow “anthropocentrism”, but use an ecological view of harmony and unity between human beings and nature to deal with their relationship with nature (Zeng Fanren, 2002: 12). Man is not the measure of all things, nor can man transform and conquer nature. Not only with nature, but also with human beings, society, and themselves need to maintain a dynamic balance. This dynamic balance is the most basic theory of ecological philosophy and ecological aesthetics. Professor Zeng Fanren stated in his article “On Ecological Aesthetics” that the object of ecological aesthetics consists of multiple levels, namely the dynamic balance between man and nature, society and man himself. Its fundamental connotation is a concept of existence in which the ecological aesthetic relationship between man, nature and society achieves a dynamic balance and harmony (Zeng Fanren, 2002: 11). This article will analyze the ecological consciousness and ecological aesthetics embodied in “The Tempest” from the aspects of the dynamic balance between man and nature, man and society, and man and himself.
   1. Man and nature: harmony and unity
   Shakespeare is undoubtedly the most representative playwright of the Renaissance, and many of his works embody the theme of humanism. Humanism affirms the value of man, who is the essence of the universe and the primate of all things. In “Hamlet”, Shakespeare used Hamlet’s mouth to express the praise and praise of human beings. This is also reflected in “The Tempest”. When meeting Alonzo and his party for the first time, Miranda exclaimed, “How beautiful human beings are, there are such outstanding characters in this novel world!” (Translated by Zhu Shenghao, 1978: 77). Alonzo and his party are intruders on the island, but from another perspective, Miranda is a foreigner who strayed into human society. Before that, she had never been in contact with other human beings other than her father, so it was most appropriate to express the value and dignity of human beings through her mouth.
   Starting from anthropocentrism, it is not difficult to see that even in the isolated natural environment of the island, human beings are also in an absolute dominant position. From Caliban’s self-report, we can know that when Prospero first came to the island, he lured Caliban to tell where the various precious resources on the island are located. Prospero then treats Caliban as a slave, beating and cursing him. Ignoring the other “residents” on the island, Prospero declared his sovereignty over the island, and all the plants, trees, flowers and birds on the island belong to him. The island is his land, and Caliban and Ariel are his servants.
   Human beings claim to be the essence of the universe, higher than nature. In the play, in addition to Prospero using Caliban to rule the island, jesters such as Trinculo and Stephano, when they mistakenly believe that they are the only human beings on the island, immediately declare themselves ownership of the island. It’s easy to think of Robinson in “Robinson Crusoe”. After living on a deserted island, he claimed to be the king of the island, and the whole island belonged to him. Robinson, like God, has the power to “name” the savages he rescued by accident. The relationship between Robinson Crusoe and Friday is more like master and slave than father and son. Also in The Tempest, Prospero is also a god-like being. He frees Ariel with magic, captures Caliban, and even creates the storm that opens the play. Prospero’s rescue of Ariel is not entirely out of kindness, he hopes that Ariel can be used for himself. There are also many scenes in the play where Ariel and Prospero “bargain” on the number of years of freedom. Ariel’s surrender is not voluntary, but forced by the situation. As the island’s natural elf, Ariel is a symbol of nature. It is used by Prospero, which symbolizes the enslavement of nature by humans. Prospero wants to use the power of nature to achieve revenge, and all his magic comes from “knowledge”. “Knowledge” is the discussion of human truth and experience. Prospero learned magic through books, and through magic, he controlled the natural forces. This plot in the play hints at the desire of human beings to conquer and transform nature.
   There are many times in “The Tempest” that the characters in the play want to use the power of the ocean to take revenge on human beings. For example, when Gonzalo was treated disrespectfully by sailors, he once hoped that he could use the storm at sea to drown these disrespectful sailors. Under the circumstances at the time, Gonzalo could not use class power to punish them, but could only hope for natural forces beyond his control. When she saw the damage caused by the storm caused by her father, Miranda also hoped that she had the ability to control nature and call the wind and rain, so that she could save the people who suffered in the storm caused by her father’s magic.
   But is nature really the enslaved party in The Tempest? The answer is obviously no. There are many places in the play that imply human beings’ fear of nature and their powerlessness in the face of nature. This also explains why Antonio did not kill Prospero, but just banished him and his three-year-old daughter to the sea. For humans, the sea is a symbol of mystery and danger. Being exiled at sea means that there may never be a chance to return to land. Nature cannot be controlled, just as natural disasters cannot be predicted. In the face of natural life and death, human beings are equal. The first scene of the first act of “The Tempest” shows the scene where the princes and nobles have to please the bosun’s social class inversion when they encounter shipwreck. The storm doesn’t care who is king and who is a commoner. To ride out a storm, even a king has to keep quiet and make sure the boatswain can continue to steer the ship.
   In the face of the “dehumanized” nature, there is no distinction between high and low. But humans themselves have class divisions. After the storm is over, Ariel is driven by Prospero to resettle the crew. Ariel didn’t place them at random; each class got its place. Just like in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, after the big dream, the lover gets what he wants, the fairy king and queen talk to each other, and Burton, who had a “spring breeze” with the fairy queen, still performs “the most beautiful scene” with his craftsman brothers. A pathetic comedy”. In Ariel’s placement, the King of Naples stays with his courtiers and nobles; the jester and the cook keep each other warm and dream of conquering the island; the boatswain and other crew members are rarely even mentioned.

   Although man and nature seem to be opposed, in the play “The Tempest”, the unity and balance between the two is the key point. Although the people on this boat were forced to come to the island because of the storm, most of them had a good impression of the island. Antonio and Sebastian even felt that the island’s climate was “a lovely girl” with a “gentle” temperament and a “gentle manner” (translated by Zhu Shenghao, 1978: 28). It can be seen that the unique ecological environment of this island keeps the characters in the play in a happy and contented state of mind for a long time. In this environment, Ferdinand and Miranda’s love at first sight and their union became smooth. If the play had taken place in Macbeth’s castle or the “Great Prison” in Denmark, Prospero would not necessarily give up his revenge, and the ending would not be happy.
   As the god of the island, Prospero orchestrates a masquerade at the wedding ceremony of Ferdinand and Milanca. The gods who sent blessings to the couple included Iris, the goddess of the rainbow, and Ceres, the goddess of the earth. As messengers of nature, they wanted to bless the true lovers of Ferdinand and Milanka. Prospero’s arrangement at the wedding also shows that nature still has divinity in the human heart. Only when lovers are blessed by the messengers of nature can they get real happiness.
   Prospero enslaves Caliban, drives Ariel, and intends to use the power of nature to achieve his goal of revenge. On the surface, he and nature are in a state of opposition. However, it is not difficult to see from the development of the plot that the relationship between the two has been changing and tends to be balanced. Prospero finally broke his wand and left it at the bottom of the sea, letting the forces of nature return to nature; he returned the island to Caliban and Ariel her freedom. He finally understood that human beings cannot conquer and transform nature. Man can only change himself so that he can adapt to the environment and coexist harmoniously with nature.
   “Everything in the past is just a prelude” (translated by Zhu Shenghao, 1978: 36). This sentence can also be understood as Shakespeare’s prediction and warning of human ecological behavior. Every human behavior today, big or small, will have unpredictable effects in the future. Human beings do not pay attention to ecological protection now, and it will be too late when the ecological environment deteriorates in the future. But as Ferdinand said in the finale, the sea looks fierce, but its heart is full of kindness and kindness. Nature is benevolent, human beings have awe of nature, and nature will be friendly to human beings, and human beings and nature can coexist harmoniously and maintain a benign dynamic balance.
   2. Man and society: communication and integration In the
   play , the communication relationship between Prospero and human society is also developing towards a balanced state. Twelve years ago, part of the reason why Prospero was usurped was that he was busy with his own academic research and ignored state affairs, so that his younger brother Antonio took advantage of the loophole. Under the deliberate interference of his younger brother, Prospero’s relationship with the country and society has gone out of balance. Prospero was not without fault, for as Duke of Milan he did not fulfill his duties and responsibilities well. The biggest reason for his being usurped is that he focused too much on himself and ignored the connection with the outside world. If at the beginning, he realized his social role and responsibility as a duke, opened diplomatic relations with Naples externally, and actively managed the subjects of Milan internally, then Prospero would definitely not be replaced by an acting duke.
   On the island twelve years later, the relationship between Prospero, Caliban and Ariel still faces the dilemma of unequal relationship. Through magic, Prospero forces the two to obey his orders. Caliban resented Prospero for taking away the island that belonged to him, and let himself become Prospero’s “only servant” from the free king of the island (translated by Zhu Shenghao, 1978: 18). His vain attempt to humiliate Miranda is mainly for revenge on Prospero. In order to persuade Stephano, whom he thought to be the “heroic god” (translated by Zhu Shenghao, 1978: 43), to avenge Prospero, Caliban gave up his freedom and swore to become a “loyal servant” again (translated by Zhu Shenghao, 1978 :43). The elf Ariel stayed with Prospero for the sake of freedom. Prospero rescued her from the spell of Tesiracus, and kept Ariel by his side for his own selfish revenge. Every time after Ariel completes the task assigned by Prospero, she will inevitably have a “talk of words” with Prospero about her own freedom. Whenever Ariel reminds Prospero of the oath he made to her, Prospero always shirks in every possible way, relying on his own rescue of Ariel. Faced with such a capricious Prospero, Caliban and Ariel are resentful.
   In the beginning, Prospero was unequal to his enemies, Antonio, Alonzo, king of Naples, or to Ariel and Caliban. But at the end of the play, despite the malice on the island, Shakespeare writes an unexpectedly happy ending. Prospero chose to return to human society, forgave Antonio and Alonzo who had persecuted him, returned the island to Caliban, and returned Ariel to freedom. For Prospero, his daughter Miranda is the only bright color in his miserable life. Despite her life in exile, Miranda remains curious and kind to human society. It is not difficult to see that Prospero did not educate his daughter with hatred, he still hoped that his daughter would love human beings and human society. The combination of Miranda and Ferdinand in the play is inseparable from Prospero’s careful design, and this marriage made in heaven can be seen as his signal for peace. Prospero realized that his previous self was incompatible with society, so he got an opportunity to integrate into society with the help of his daughter’s marriage. The relationship between him and society is gradually becoming balanced from unequal.
   3. Man and Self: Soul Salvation
   From creating a shipwreck in the first act to putting down his wand in the last act, Prospero is by no means just an “Avenger” duke obsessed with hatred for the throne. At the very beginning of the play, Prospero appeared as the master of the island, casting magic to revenge Alonzo and Antonio and his party. At this time, Prospero manipulates everyone’s fate with the help of magic. But even with the ability of “God”, in essence Prospero is still just a human being with human emotion and character weakness (Zhao Jun, 2016: 205). For example, in dealing with Caliban, Prospero loses the ability to remain objective and calm. Even though he is aware of his oppression and enslavement to Caliban, he still insults Caliban with words such as bastard, mud, and slave. These insulting titles give the role of Prospero a sense of separation. Why was Prospero, who forgave his enemies, so cruel to Caliban alone? For Prospero, Caliban is his own evil side, a reflection of his inner darkness. This also explains why even though Caliban intends to take revenge on Prospero through others, Prospero does not take any measures against him. Because only by reconciling with his own evil side, Prospero can truly achieve the balance of his spiritual home.
   As Prospero wrote in the closing poem of his last speech: “There are clearly two paths in front of me. Either I will be imprisoned here by talismans for a lifetime, or I will return to my homeland with your strength” (Zhu Shenghao Translated, 1978: 83). By forgiving the enemies who hurt him and his daughter, Prospero achieves inner spiritual balance. With the help of the benevolent natural force, he not only escaped from the lonely desert island materially, but also broke free from the shackles tied to his own soul.

   Ecological aesthetics is not just an interdisciplinary subject of ecology and aesthetics, but actually “a brand-new view of human existence that has emerged under the economic and cultural background of the new era. A consistent view of existence in the state of ecological aesthetics” (Zeng Fanren, 2002: 11). Human beings are not the center of the universe. Human beings need to respect and revere nature and coexist harmoniously with nature. Only when Prospero respects nature can he gain the power of nature and get the opportunity to unleash the storm; he forgives his enemies who persecuted him and re-establishes ties with society, so that he can return to the Principality as the royal family of Naples; Release the shackles on the soul. Only when man and nature, society and man achieve harmony and dynamic balance, can the ecological aesthetic meaning of human beings revering nature, revering life and revering the heart have lasting aesthetic value.

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