1) Consider one of the three texts and the ways in which it represents the possibilities and limits of alternative, “other” worlds. What follows is a series of questions meant to provoke your response—you’re not obligated to answer every single one of them in your essay. Use these questions as a starting point for your own inquiry into commonalities and differences between the texts. Your assignment requires you to formulate a coherent thesis that offers an argument and follow up that thesis with a structured cogent analysis.
How do these texts address real world historical problems of monarchy and colonialism? How do they imaginatively resolve (or not) these issues? Do the authors repeat certain assumptions or perspectives about these worlds that are outside of Britain? Or, if they differ, on what specific terms do they differ?
How do the portrayals of the residents of these outside lands compare to the authors’ portrayals of the British (or the characters meant to stand for the British—Prospero, etc)?
2) Henry VIII’s three children were all considered illegitimate by different groups of people but all were still rulers. This points to the changeability of status and interrogates the importance of a title. Ariel and Caliban in the Tempest and Friday and other enslaved characters in Robinson Crusoe are prominent characters that are essential to the function of their worlds. To what extent does one’s external social status as servant/slave compare to their real function within the narrative? What is the importance of an authoritative title? How does the text illustrate the disconnect between one’s title or social position and one’s impact on the narrative and surrounding world? And to what extent do the texts reinforce the import of title and position and the possibilities of social/economic mobility? And how might this changing emphasis be indicative of a world transforming from a medieval perspective to a more familiar and contemporary modern perspective?
3) Consider the construction of an anti-hero and the particular conditions under which the anti-hero is positioned either by author, the other characters, or by you as reader as the protagonist of the text (Raphael, Prospero, and Crusoe would all easily fit this label). Are these deployments of the anti-hero performed in order to generate some kind of ironic commentary on the historical or philosophical or religious context of the text? What other devices does the author use to support or undermine this commentary? Are these protagonists clearly anti-heroes, or is there ambiguity for interpretation and/or reader mapping? What might the purpose of this ambiguity be?
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