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The Big Picture Many students face the challenge of reading and interpreting literature with ease when a classroom and a professor provide a safety net Reading and interpreting literature on ones own is a more difficult task While there is no right way to interpret literature understanding some external factors surrounding the period that the work was written in the audience it was written for the events that inspired it the biography of the author and many other external factors are helpful for students to develop their own interpretations of literature Frank Kermode is a traditionalist critic who helps explain William Shakespeares The Tempest the context of the larger picture His analysis illuminates the characters symbolism and overall meaning of the play itself by looking to Shakespeares other works and inspiration to write the play the characteristics of the period and the controversy surrounding the natural world versus the civilized world Kermodes research informs readers that this was probably the last play written by Shakespeare This fact according to Kermode is cause for liberal speculation on the pattern of the poets entire career 174 This external factor can help students shed light on the theme of the tempest Although Kermode does not specifically refer to the points in the play where many speculate Shakespeare makes personal references and says goodbye to the theatre the knowledge that this was probably his last play allows readers to pick up on the lines and appreciate them Kermodes biographical information on Shakespeare also includes his interest in travel literature Kermode refers to the Sea Adventure and History of Travaile as works that inspired The Tempest 175 Knowing the inspiration of a work can shed light on facets of that work In this case the character of Caliban is compared to a character from History of Travaile who is partly the savage of the New World partly the wild man of European pageant church architecture and poem 175 The
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