Textual Conversations In Hag-seed And The Tempest

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The concept of textual conversations is greatly explored throughout both Margaret Atwood’s Hag-seed and the text of its origins, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. One textual conversation that is evident in both texts is the idea of freedom and imprisonment, both metaphorical and literal. This is further explored through the main protagonists of Prospero from The Tempest and Felix from Hag-seed.

Within the texts of Hag-seed by Atwood and Shakespeare’s The Tempest forms of metaphorical and psychological imprisonment is represented through the protagonists of each text, Prospero from The Tempest and Felix from Hag-seed. One thing that both characters have in common is the way in which they are both restricted by their past trauma. For Prospero, he is imprisoned by the guilt that he feels for not being the leader his country deserved as well as the guilt and grief he feels for his daughter Miranda as they were both exiled when Antonio took over Prospero’s role as Duke of Milan. It can be seen in The Tempest that Prospero is blinded by the trauma he has experienced in his life, this later causes him to perceive his past actions as crimes and that he may have been deserving of the punishments that were placed upon him. In Atwood’s Hag-seed, Felix, the protagonist of the novel expresses various signs of his own personal imprisonment that may have been brought on by the trauma of losing both his wife and daughter as well as his job in the theatre. In the novel, it is clear that the more Felix begins to lose control the more confines himself by his past and finds comfort in his illusions. “Fool, he tells himself. She’s not here. She was never here. It was imagination and wishful thinking, nothing but that. Resign yourself. He can’t resign himself.” This is a quote from the novel, and it was spoken by the narrator. From this quote, the reader gains further insight into the psychological imprisonment that Felix put himself through as well as the way in which it caused him to experience hallucinations. This is done through the use of visual imagery.

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Within the texts of Hag-seed by Atwood and Shakespeare’s The Tempest forms of literal imprisonment are greatly expressed through the main protagonists Prospero and Felix. In Hag-seed literal imprisonment is expressed through the Fletcher correctional facility where Felix teaches Shakespeare to prisoners. The theme of imprisonment is enhanced by Atwood as the correctional facility is the main location or setting of the novel. This allows the

This facility is the equivalent to the ‘prison’ of The Tempest which is the enchanted island that Prospero and his daughter Miranda are exiled to.

The connective concept of Freedom is one that is widely explored throughout Margaret Atwood’s novel Hag-seed and William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. This is done once again through the protagonists in each text Felix and Prospero. In both the play and the novel Both Prospero and Felix gain a sense of freedom by letting go of their past griefs and moving on with their life. For Prospero, this is coming to terms with the fact that he wasn’t fulfilling his role as the Duke of Milan to the best of his ability. It is evident in the play that Prospero’s trauma and past grief blind him from acting consciously, which later causes him to feel guilt and perceive his actions both current and past, as crimes that deserving of the punishment, he received from his brother Antonio. “Unless I am relieved by prayer, Which pierces so that it assaults Mercy itself, and frees all faults As you from crimes would be pardoned be Let your indulgence set me free.” This is a quote from Prospero in Act 5 of the play. During this part of the play, the audience becomes involved with Prospero’s ‘fate’ and are the ones who are asked to make the decision on whether he is worthy of freedom. However, for Felix, he becomes free by coming to terms with his past griefs, for example, the loss of both his wife and daughter as well as his job.

To conclude it is evident through an analysis of both William Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Margaret Atwood’s Hag-seed that Atwood’s appropriation Shakespeare’s classic ‘tragic comedy’ “…is both remarkable in its awareness of its textual origins and remarkably original.” This is shown through the textual conversation and connective concept of imprisonment and freedom between the two texts and how it is explored through Prospero and Felix, the protagonists of each text. 


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