| Quote #1
Gonzalo's speech about how he'd rule the island is taken from Montaigne's famous essay "Of Cannibals" (1580), where the Brazilian Indians are described as living at one with nature. Montaigne writes they have "no kind of traffic, no knowledge of letters, no intelligence of numbers, no name of magistrate or politic superiority, no use of service, of riches or of poverty, no contracts, no successions...no occupation but idle, no respect of kindred but common, no apparel but natural, no manuring of lands, no use of wine, corn, or metal" (from John Florio's 1603 English translation). This liberal concept is a pretty big deal, especially since at a time when Europeans were running around calling natives in the Americas "savages," Montaigne suggests that the Brazilian Indians live a utopian lifestyle while European colonizers are the real barbarians. (This essay, by the way, is where the concept of the "noble savage" comes from.)
What's interesting is that Shakespeare puts this speech in the mouth of one of his characters. Is Shakespeare endorsing Montaigne's ideas? Maybe. Gonzalo, after all, is the play's ultimate good guy. On the other hand, Caliban, who is a kind of exotic "other," is portrayed as a complete savage in this play.
| Quote #2
Nature has always interacted in Prospero's affairs. Here, he highlights that nature is not one big capital "N" Nature, but a mix of different elements, each with moods and tendencies. At the time of their exile, Prospero remembers the sea like an enemy, and the wind like a lover.
| Quote #3
Was it in Caliban's nature to ignore Prospero's nurturing? When Caliban tried to violate Miranda, was he compelled by his own natural forces, greater than his moral reasoning?