In this Honors thesis, I examine the roles of wit and violence in Shakespeare's The Tempest, exploring my original suspicion that the play is a pacifist work. Noticing references to "bloody thoughts" in both Hamlet and The Tempest, I hypothesized that while Shakespeare resolves his tragedies using violence, he resolves his comedies using wit, making the two foil plot devices. I discovered that the plot is not propelled by either violence or wit on their own, but by Prospero's cunning. Rejecting the conventional reading of Prospero as a sorcerer, I read Prospero as a Machiavellian figure. I examine how The Tempest points to the violent capabilities of language, and demonstrate how the play, although it does not feature onstage killing, is no less violent than Hamlet.
Dr. Marcia McDonald
Keller, Aubrey. Bloody Thoughts: Violence and Wit in Shakespeare's The Tempest. 2020. Belmont University, Honors thesis. Belmont Digital Repository, [link]